How Many Cats Are in the USA? What Greater Gift than the Love of a Cat?

how many cats in USA

If you’re a Cat Lady, or if you just love the little critters, you’re in the right place. You’ve probably thought about things like, ‘How many cats are in the USA?’ or ‘What’s the most popular cat breed?’

We have both answers as well as share how many cats are in the world, which generation owns the most cats, and what kind of money people spend on their furry ones.

Cats as pets are here to stay, and any knowledge you can learn about them will help both of you in your relationship. We’ll begin with the US, move around the world, and even talk about shelter cats.

By the end, you might be thinking what every cat all over the USA is… that cats rule the world!

Top 10 Most Interesting Facts

How Many Cats Are in the USA

Whiskers, purrs, and playful leaps: have you ever wondered just how many feline friends call the USA their home? Let’s take a look!

According to AVMA 2022 Pet Ownership Notebook, There Are Around 60.2 Million to 62 Million Pet Cats In The USA (AVMA)

There were 58.3 million pet cats and 50-80 million feral cats living in US according to old estimates. As per the latest stats from AVMA, the USA has an estimated 60.2-62 million pet cats, emphasizing the widespread presence of feline companions across the nation.

In 2021-2022, 5% of people in the US fostered a cat. This can certainly be improved upon and is important since fostering allows for one more space for a cat in a shelter.

According to Cat Stats in 2020, 26% of US Households Own at Least One Pet Cat. (AVMA)

how many cats are in the usa

There was an increase in cat ownership between 2016 and 2020 (from 25-26%) and then again in 2022 (29%). Forty-five percent (45%) of households owned dogs in 2020, while remote workers were eight times more likely to acquire a pet the same year.

“The size of the U.S. pet population remained relatively stable over the past six years…” (source)

We learned from 2020 that the economy and labor market highly affect pet ownership. Working remotely or at the site and having more or less money because of it makes a difference in the willingness to acquire a pet.

The Number of Cats in the US in 2017 Was 94.2 Million, According to the American Pet Products Association. (APPA)

As suggested by APPA, there were 94.2 million cats in the US in 2017. Between feral, stray, and community cats, there are so many there’s not one exact answer, but it’s estimated there are between 50-70 million feral cats in the US. This figure should be included in the number above.

46.5 Million US Households Own at Least One Cat. (APPA)

percentage of how many cats owned

“According to the 2023-2024 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 66% of U.S. households own a pet, which has been decreased from 2020…”

Dogs took the lead with 65.1 million, followed by 46.5 million U.S. households own at least one cat, which represents approximately 35.39% of the total 131.43 million households.

Basic annual expenses for cats total around $900/year and include:

  • Vet costs (Routine and surgical)
  • Food
  • Boarding
  • Treats
  • Vitamins
  • Toys
  • Groomer/Grooming aids

An Average of 1.78 Cats Is Owned per Household in the USA. (AVMA)

how many pet cats are there in the united states?

Compare that with the average American household owning 1.6 dogs, 2.1 birds, and 2.1 horses. The trend we’re seeing is households owning more than one cat.

Owners usually acquire more than one cat for companionship purposes for both the human and the cat.

The American State That Owns the Most Cats (45%) Is Vermont. (2022-statista, AVMA)

Vermont has the highest rate at around 45% of cat ownership. In 2018, Maine and West Virginia were right behind them at 44% and 38%, respectively.

In Vermont, cat adoptions are beginning to slow down. The VT Digger reports that during COVID, animal shelters could barely keep a kitten due to so many adoptions. Now, the market is becoming saturated.

In the last several decades, there has also been an influx of cats being transported from the south, where pet overpopulation is rampant. More homes could be found in the north. This activity hasn’t decreased and is adding to the oversaturation of cats in VT. 

The Mean Veterinary Expenditure on Cats per Household Increased From $189 in 2018 to $321 in 2022 Annually. (AVMA)

us cat population

In 2022, the annual total expense for cats was $321. Veterinary expenditure per cat (mean) is $98.

Cost of an annual wellness visit for cats:

  • $141 in 2016
  • $133 in 2020
  • $169 in 2022

There Are Approximately 60-100 Million Unowned or Feral Cats in the US. (NCBI)

how many cats are in the us

The latest statistics reveal that the number of feral cats in America ranges from 60 to 100 million, according to NCBI, updating the previous estimate by the USDA which stated there were approximately 30-80 million unowned or feral cats in the US.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of the feral cat populations call urban areas “home.” The council admits while there are no real numbers of how many feral and stray cats there are in America, this is the best hypothesis.

“One female cat that hasn’t been spayed, along with her offspring, can create 420,000 cats in seven years.”

This isn’t an exaggeration. Not altering your cat can result in devastating circumstances.

how many cats in america

Ragdolls are like hippies… mellow and carefree, so it’s easy to see why the breed was chosen. 

The 10 most popular cat breeds are the following:

DVM360 published a report obtained from the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), the world’s largest registration of pedigreed cats, in 2022. The 10 most popular cat breeds worldwide are the:

  1. Ragdoll
  2. Maine Coon
  3. Exotic
  4. Persian
  5. Devon Rex
  6. British Shorthair
  7. Abyssinian
  8. American Shorthair
  9. Scottish Fold
  10. Sphynx and companion cat

There is a trend with people purchasing cat toy subscription boxes. On top of that, owners are looking for eco-friendly products. (Future Market Insights – FMI)

The international cat toy market size is expected to be appraised at $1.840 million by 2033, which is a huge jump from $1,015.2 in 2023.

Here are some interesting cat stats about feline ownership that might amaze you!

  • Cat owners who see their cats as family members: 76%
  • Cat owners who see their cats as pets: 20%
  • Cat owners who see their cats as property: 3%

How Many Cats Are in the World

From bustling cities to serene countrysides, just how many feline whiskers twinkle under the sun across our vast globe? Let’s take a look!

As per Stats of 2018, There Are Almost 373 Million Cats Kept as Pets Around the World. (Euromonitor, Nestle)

The total number of cats worldwide is estimated to be 600 million to 1 billion. According to statistics from 2018, the global pet cat population reached an impressive figure of around 373 million, signifying the remarkable popularity and widespread ownership of feline companions worldwide.

There could be just as many feral cats, but we just don’t know. We encourage you not to have a litter on your own as there are so many in need of a home.

There Are Approximately 127 Million Cats in European Households. (FEDIAF)

How Many Cats Are In the USA

The FEDIAF’s latest report of 2023 shows there are around 127 million pet cats in the EU. Magnifique! Forty-six percent (46%) of all households in the EU own a pet, and of those pets, dogs come in at 104 million. The burgeoning pet spending is a good thing for Europe’s economy. 

Twenty-six percent (26%) of European households own a cat.

Russia Has the Highest Number (59%) of Pet Cat Ownership. (Quartz)

In 2019, almost 60% of Russians had at least one cat. The country has consistently been at the top of the list as being some of the world’s hugest cat lovers.

Some people even use their homes as makeshift shelters for cats. 

In 2022, the Number of Cats in Russia Was 23.15 Million, Which Marks the Highest Number of Cats in Europe. (FEDIAF)

how many cats in russia

Germany is second with 15.2 million, and France comes in third with owning felines at 14.9 million.

Cats can even affect world relations. USA Today reported in March of ’22 that cats from Russia had been banned from any international competition. This was in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

In 2022, the Number of Pet Cats in Romania Was 4.3 Million. (FEDIAF)

The pet industry boomed while businesses suffered. Many Romanian citizens are choosing to have cats rather than human children. Statistics also showed Romanians bought lower-quality food for themselves so they could feed their pets.

It is estimated by Ziarul Financiar, Romanians spent an estimated RON 3.6 billion on pet foods and other products in 2021.

And the trend is forecasted to continue into the next decade.

The Number of Pet Cats in the UK is 11 Million. (ukpetfood.org)

how many cats in the uk

From their annual survey in 2023 of over 9,000 households, there are approximately 11,000,000 cats in the UK. The highest number of cats reside in southeast England in the UK.

Interestingly enough, the world’s oldest living cat, as of Nov. 2022, is Flossie, who holds the Guinness World Record. She lives in Southeast England and is 27 years old.

8.5 Million Cats Were Owned as Pets in Canada in 2022. (Canadian Animal Health Institute – Cahi)

While domestic cat numbers stabilized from 2018-2020, cats continue to be a Canadian’s pet of choice. In 2022, cat ownership increased from 8.1 to 8.5 million.

Thirty-five percent (35%) of pet cats in Canada are over 8 years old. 

38% of Canadian Households Own At Least One Cat. (Made in CA)

And over 58% of Canadians have at least one pet (cat, dog, or other), among which 38% of the households own a cat. The animal welfare/advocate and veterinarian communities have had great success with promoting altering services… 79% of all cats are spayed or neutered.

That said, Canada has between 1.5 and 4.1 million stray and feral cats.

Shelter Cat Statistics

Diving into the heart of feline havens, let’s unravel the numbers behind our sheltered purring companions.

Annually, 3.2 Million Cats Are Brought into US Shelters. (ASPCA)

us cat population

The US shelter adoption rate for cats was 64% in 2022. The number of dogs that entered shelters was 3.1 million. This means the number of dogs and cats entering shelters has declined from 2011, when there were 7.2 million of them annually.

27% of the Cats Adopted from Animal Shelters in 2019 Were Strays. (ASPCA)

how many cats adopted from animal shelter

This places the onus on the public/society to actively search for a stray cat to adopt from a shelter. Only seven of every 100 cats that enter shelters are reunited with their owners, according to Feline Research.

530,000 Cats Are Euthanized Annually in Shelters. (ASPCA)

This fact supports the numbers above. Of the 2,000,000 cats that are brought into shelters, 530,000 are euthanized, which leaves 26.5% that are adopted.

cat population in us

Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) in Kanab, UT, strives to stop any animal from dying in a shelter by the year 2025. Their motto is “Save Them All.” This is absolutely possible. We only need more people to step up and adopt.

San Francisco, CA, became the first no-kill city in 1994.

Furry Feline Facts

2000s cats

What do the USA, Canada, and Russia all have in common? Besides that they’re gorgeous countries; they all have tons of kitties. Do you know which American state owns the most cats? We do and can’t wait to share it. 

Besides the ins and outs of cat ownership, here are some other interesting cat facts:

  • The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) 2021-22 Top Cats in Championship winner was a Longhair Japanese Bobtail female who won Best Cat and Best of Breed awards.
  • There are more than eight hairless cat breeds. (And you thought the Sphynx was all alone!)
  • Early colonists sailed from Europe and unleashed felines to the USA.
  • For centuries, the Russians have considered cats to be good luck.
  • Although there are several islands with cats, Aoshima, also known as “Cat Island” in Japan, has over 100 cats. Although that may not seem like a lot, the island is only about a mile long and has less than 20 residents. 

FAQ’s

What Age Group Owns Cats the Most?

Millennials have grown particularly in cat ownership, increasing from 30% to 34%, while only increasing one percentage point in dog ownership.” However… here is the breakdown of top cat ownership by age group. (Spoiler alert: Gen X is the winner!)

  • Gen X:  55%
  • Millennial: 53%
  • Gen Z: 46%
  • Baby Boomers: 45%

Interesting note: Although millennials have the highest percentage of pet ownership, Gen Xers top them for cat ownership. 

Which Generation Buys the Most Gifts for Their Pets?

It’s the millennials who take the prize for best in showering their cats with baubles and tiaras, and bows. It should be recognized that it was largely Baby Boomers who raised them (modeled it) and were probably pet parents themselves.     

What Age Group Treats Their Pets as Fur Babies?

Millennials are on the fast track with their careers and are in the sweet spot to choose what to focus on. Many either don’t want children or want to wait a while until they have them.

So their attention and love goes to pets – or fur babies. I know several millennials, some in my family, who take their pets to babysitters and would never take a Christmas card photo without them.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of millennials buy organic food for their pets.

Where is their money going?

  • Toys 51%
  • Special food treats 49%
  • Grooming items 34%
  • High-end food 30%
  • New bed 24%
  • Vitamins/Supplements 19%
  • New crate/kennel 11%
  • Clothing 9%
  • Pet subscription box 9%
  • None of these 5%

How Much Do American Cat Owners Spend on Their Cats?

“The average American spends $25,304 on their friendly fur ball during their life, according to a poll of 2,000 cat owners.” (source)

Although some cat owners just stick to the “normal” stuff like mouse toys and laser pointers, there are people who go all out and redecorate entire rooms for their cats. They like to make sure their kitty has plenty of cubbies to climb in and tunnels to run through. They buy things like ornate beds and entire wardrobes. 

Since felines can live 10+ years, this is definitely something you need to mull over. 

How Many People Brought Cats Home During Covid?

Adoptions were up a scratch compared to how many were taken in. There were 999,530 cat adoptions in 2020, which was down from 2019 and 2021. But there were also fewer cats that entered shelters.  

Percentage of new cat owners whose decision to acquire a cat was influenced by COVID-19: 

40% overall. 

  • 49% male 
  • 33% female 
  • 56% millennial 
  • 40% Gen Z 
  • 27% Baby Boomer 
  • 19% Gen X

Have Lots of Cats Been Surrendered That Were Adopted During the Pandemic?

No. Eighty-five percent (85%) of households still have cats they adopted in 2020. One in five households acquired a cat or dog since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, which would account for approximately 23 million American households based on the 2019 U.S. Census. (source)

In Conclusion

I’ve grown to adore cats and have a deep respect for them. Cats have not only been domesticated from being completely wild, which is no small feat, but they’ve also gracefully walked the tightrope between living with us and living free.

They’ve kept some of their most innate characteristics intact while dealing with people who sometimes don’t understand them.

With so many people discussing them using countless statistics and from being such an impactful part of our culture, they have certainly claimed a stake in our world.

Jen Flatt Osborn
Born with a pen in her hand and a deadline (and probably a tail), Jen considers writing a vocation, an art, and a release. She’s a freelance copy/content writer who specializes in the pet industry. Previously, she was the founder/director of an animal sanctuary for 12 years, taught classes to middle school students about dog behavior, and has lived a life full of devotion to animals and their welfare. As a vegetarian, Jen advocates for the humane treatment of every living creature. She currently lives with one delightful canine who encourages her to put her head out the car window more often.

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