How Many Cats Are in the World? A Statistical Overview

population of cats in the world

The state of Vermont in the US should change its motto to “Cat Lovers Only” since 45% of households there own them. And in all of America, there are oodles of millions of cats. Meowza! So are you curious to know how many cats are in the world? We were, too, so we found out.

These stunning creatures have permeated the entire world. Some have become domesticated, some know how to survive in the wild, and some are domesticated and free-roaming cats.

So let’s get familiar with the statistics on how many cats are in the world…which countries adore them and which countries don’t, and along the way, you’ll learn facts that will delight you.  

Overview of How Many Cats Are in the World

how many cats are in the world

House cats live on every continent in the world except Antarctica. They’ve been idolized and demonized ever since the beginning of time, but one thing’s for sure – Everyone has an opinion on them. 

We wish we had a crystal ball and could know the exact number of cat populations around the world today, but we do have a range of statistics. There are 300 million-600 million cats living in the world today. The USA has the most number of cats, followed by China and Russia.

Latvia, Ireland, and Sweden are three countries, among many, with low numbers of household felines.

The lowest cat ownership statistic goes to Spain and Greece, coming in at 10-15% of households.

How Many Cats Are in the World

Here are some worldwide statistics about our favorite felines.

world cat population

Statistics Show There Are 300–600 Million Cats in the World (World Atlas)

It does depend on the source, but these are good ballpark figures. It would be impossible to calculate the true number of feral cats and strays there are in the world.

Around 100 Million Cats Are Wild (Scientific American)

These 100 million include cats like cougars, servals, leopards, and tigers. Many wild cats are threatened, decreasing in numbers, and endangered. The main reasons for these shocking facts are poaching, habitat loss, and disease. Human beings are the biggest danger to these majestic animals. 

There Are 480 Million Stray Cats (IAPWA)

Feral cats are a problem to human and cat health and to the environment. However, we must also be aware there’s a difference between feral and stray cats. 

“Pet and stray cats are socialized to people…ferals are not.” – Alley Cat Allies

world population of cats

Stray cats are cats that escaped from home or previously had some other form of contact with humans. Ferals are born in the wild and continue to populate. To muddy things further, the term “community cats” refers to cats of the Felis catus species and includes both feral and stray cats. 

You can help control the cat population through the Trap-Neuter-Return process.

The Number of Cats Owned Worldwide Is 373 Million (World Atlas)

In the top cat-ownership countries, it’s loud and clear that a cat’s “Meows” is their favorite sound. Here are the percentages of the population in different countries owning a cat.

  • China – 59.5%
  • Russia – 57%
  • Romania – 48%
  • France – 41%
  • USA – 39%
  • Argentina – 32%

From a Total of 600 Million, 400 Million Cats Reside in Asia (World Animal Protection)

The numbers have increased in the last decade, and the trend is they will continue to rise.

cat population in the world

“The fast pace of urban life, small living areas, and strict restrictions on dog ownership in some Chinese cities all contribute to the popularity of cats”… – South China Morning Post

According to Stats for 2020, 10.9 Million Pet Cats Are in the UK. (PDSA)

As of 2020, the UK has 10.9 million pet cats. Ninety percent (90%) of cats in Britain have free access to the outdoors. Only a small percentage (10%) of British cats live indoors (some Brits consider it to be too confining), and those are mostly purebred. They’re seen more as companion animals rather than “fur babies.”

The Highest Number of Cats in the European Union (EU) Reside in Germany (World Atlas)

Germany and France are home to the highest number of cats in the EU. In 2019, a survey revealed that only 5.4% of cats in Germany had not been vaccinated.

cats population in the world

“A history of traveling abroad or visiting cat shows or a cattery, and thus regulatory requirements had the greatest positive impact on the current vaccination status”…–  

The Number of Stray Cats in Istanbul Is Above 125,000 (Legal Nomads)

Muhammad has been said to have been a respecter of cats. Historical books about Islam mention his affection for felines. Therefore, it is considered to be disrespectful to threaten them.

There is a community network where it is agreed, stray cats should be cared for by everyone and “cat stations” (with food, water, and shelter) can be seen in public areas. 

How Many Cats Are in America

Here are some US cat statistics for you.

cats world

There Are More Than 58 Million Cats in America (AVMA)

There were numbers from 30 million to 90 million pet cats in the US online. Fifty-eight million, close to 60 million, was the statistic that stood out the most and the one you can rely on.

The Number of Feral Cats in America Ranges From 30 to 100 Million (NCBI)

The US has an average of 65 million feral cats, so this number is preposterous and should be addressed by the government. The only way to stop the growth of the overpopulation of cats is to have laws aimed at people who refrain from spaying and neutering their cats and to encourage community involvement.

As per Stats, 25.4% of US Households Have a Pet Cat (AVMA)

Cats provide Americans with more than mouse-catcher talents. Love, affection, and companionship are three of the biggest reasons why people have cats as pets.

The Average Number of Cats per House Is Almost 2 (AVMA)

how many cats in the usa

Most parents would say it’s easier to have two children than one since they can each have a companion and someone to watch over them. It’s similar with two cats.

Although cats (that share 95.6 of their DNA with tigers) are generally loners, that’s on the open plains. Domesticate cats can learn to enjoy a partner in crime that’s added to the family.

2.1 Million Cats Are Adopted Annually (ASPCA)

Shelters receive 3.2 million cats each year, so there’s still room to improve. With programs like Best Friend’s Animal Society’s “Save Them All” campaign, it’s a goal we can reach. If you don’t have a cat (or dog), adopt one, and if you do, adopt another one. You’ll be part of the solution.

Cat Population in China

population of cats

Chinese love cats as much as we do. Here are some numbers to prove that.

In Urban Chinese Households, Almost 58 Million Cats Are Kept as Pets (The Paper)

 58 Million Cats Are Kept as Pets

China’s pet industry is forecasted to be around 66.1 billion dollars in 2023. To put things in perspective, this is ten times greater than in 2013. The market has been influenced by countries that welcome kitties for companionship into their homes.

This number also gives an idea of how much does a cat cost.

The Pet Industry in China Ranks Third in the World (China Internet Watch)

There has been a sharp decline in births in China, and younger generations are choosing to have a pet instead of a baby. The trend is it will keep moving up, and China is currently a major player in the pet industry.

Statistics From 2017 Show There Are More Than 200,000 Feral Cats in Beijing Alone (China Dialogue)

This is one reason why so many are being acquired as pets. They’re easy to find. The good news is…

“The International Center for Veterinary Services (ICVS) is promoting awareness and guiding the development of community-wide TNR programs. [in China]” – ICVS Asia

Cat Population in Russia

Below are some cat statistics specific to Russia.

how many cat

According to Stats for 2021, There Are 22.95 Million Domestic Cats Recorded in the Country (FEDIAF)

22.95 Million Domestic Cats Recorded in the Country

In 2019, there were 6 million more domestic cats than pet dogs in Russia. They’re well known for being a “cat” country, and the trajectory of domestic cat owners is rising.

In 2019, Almost 60% of Russian Households Owned at Least One Cat (WAF)

Some people even open their homes to cats to provide shelter, food, and water for them. However, in March of ‘22, cats from Russia were banned from international competitions due to the war in Ukraine.

The Top Breed Cat Adopted in Russia Is the ‘Russian Blue Cat’ (Daily Paws)

Named after where it originated, today’s breed is a descendant of the highly-favored cat owned by Russian czars. Russian Blues are actually dark charcoal gray in color and came to the US in the early 20th century.

Cat Population in Brazil

Let’s look at the cat numbers in Brazil.

how many cats

Almost 18% of Brazilian Households Own at Least One Cat. (World News Report)

In contrast, …” some 44.3 percent of Brazilian households have at least one dog” – World News Report. In 2013, only 75.4 percent of cat owners had vaccinated their cats even though rabies vaccines are mandatory. 

According to Stats From 2013, There Are 22 Million Cats Residing in the Country (NCBI)

There was an increase of around 5 million cats in Brazil from 2013-2021. Arguably the most well-known cat is the Brazilian shorthair.

Paulo Samuel Ruschi, an engineer, was passionate about developing a purebred from street cats. The breed was eventually approved in 1998 by the World Cat Federation.  

Due to the Pandemic, the Large Number of Feral and Stray Cats Have Also Increased the Cats’ Population (NY Post)

On the famous/infamous “Island of the Cats” in Mangaratiba, Brazil, an island overview led by the Navy produced significant results. Due to the horrific treatment the hundreds of cats have received, like neglect and the manner by which they’re “disposed of,” harsher penalties have been created by Congress.

Are There More Cats or Dogs in the World

Keep in mind there are pet (domesticated) cats and dogs, and there are feral cats and dogs. So let’s get the important answer out of the way first… 

cats in the world

No one knows exactly how many cats and dogs are in the world. There are literally too many to gather into one “numbers house.” 

But worldwide, there are roughly 700 million to 1 billion dogs and, as we’ve mentioned, 300 million to 600 million cats.

Cats in the US Outnumber Dogs by 4 Million (AVMA)

This is due to the high feral cat count in the country. When you’re talking about 60 million domestic cats and 60 million ferals in America (and we are), that’s a huge number to top. 

The Arkansas State in the US Is Dog-Friendly; Hence, Dogs Outnumber Cats by a Ratio of 1.35–1 (AVMA)

At the end of 2016, Arkansas had 52% of households that owned a dog. In addition, it was considered to be in the AVMA’s top 10 states with the highest percentage of dog owners. 

Massachusetts State Cats Outnumber Dogs by 1.87 Cats (AVMA)

how many cats in the world

They also reported that in 2018, only 29% of Massachusetts households owned dogs. This makes cats king! And queen. In addition, many more people have more than one cat as opposed to more than one dog.

In the US, the Number of Cats as Pets Is Higher Than the Number of Dogs by 5 Million. (III)

It’s easier in almost every way to have cats rather than dogs as pets because they are low maintenance. Cats do need special care but generally don’t need to be walked, aren’t as interactive with their owners, and can be content in even the smallest lodging.

Cat Islands

Finally, here are some cat island statistics for all you feline lovers.

cat population

There Are 1.5 Million Cats on Cyprus Island, While Only 1.2 Million Inhabit This Island (Cyprus Mail)

“…the earliest archaeological evidence of the relationship between humans and cats can be found in Cyprus. It is a burial of a man and a kitten, which dates back to… 7500 BC! “– Cypress Mail

Syros Island Offers a Job for a ‘Cat Whisperer’ Who Feeds and Cares for More Than 50 Cats and Gets Free Accommodation and Wage (Global News)

Responsibilities include feeding them and taking them to the vet. Another of the Syros Island cat rescue makes its needs known via a workaway ad describing the job of a cat overseer. They’ve had many delighted people who took the plunge and came out grinning like a Cheshire cat. 

The Cat Population in Japanese Cat Island Is 6 Times More Than the Human Population (HIS)

how many cats are there

There are around a dozen “cat islands” in Japan, and Aoshima Island is one of them. Hundreds of cats inhabit it, while there are less than ten people. It isn’t a designated tourist attraction, yet it attracts thousands of them every year. 

Almost 65 Russian Cats Are Serving Russian Art by Living in Russian Hermitage Museum (CBC News)

One of the largest museums in the world, housing three million-ish works of art, is home to cats in the basement. But they’re very well cared for since Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, signed a decree for the arrangement.


Below are some frequently asked questions related to your beloved feline companions.

How Many Cats Are Killed Each Year?

Five hundred and thirty thousand. 530,000. It’s egregious, it’s despicable, and it’s morally wrong. (The figure is also closer to one million. Remember, all shelters don’t report their numbers.)

If the government, the public, and the animal advocates/shelters worked together to discuss the facts, brainstorm, and make some decisions, America wouldn’t be tossing cats (and dogs) away like trash.

How Many Cats Reside in Shelters?

3.2 million cats are surrendered to US shelters every year. According to the ASPCA, 2.1 million cats are adopted yearly. This makes numbers get skewed a bit between how many cats are taken in, how many are killed, and how many are adopted, but let’s pull back the curtain here… 

Animal organizations vary in reporting numbers depending on their agenda or their viewpoint. For example, I’ve found that animal advocates’ reports and animal shelters’ reports differ. I’ve also found that animal mega organizations and veterinarians’ reports differ. And not just by small amounts. 

Therefore, it’s increasingly difficult for the public, people like you and me, to really know what’s happening in and by animal shelters across the country. Plus, if they don’t report, we’re not even going to have their statistics.

Horrific, “under the table” practices continue to and probably always will happen. Things like non-veterinarians performing euthanasia, animals being killed by cruel and unusual means (PETA), and non-reporting in order to cloak numbers.

There are too many cooks in the kitchen and not enough oversight. The people who are entrusted to care for animals sometimes go rogue for whatever reason (greed, stupidity, meanness, etc.). And those are the facts.       

Which City in the World Has the Highest Number of Cats?

Istanbul, Turkey is also called Cats-tanbul due to the number of cats living there. We’ve touched on it in this article (over 125,000 feral cats). Most cats even have permission to enter mosques. 

In Conclusion

Hopefully, by now, if you weren’t already, you’re a cat person. Just hearing the statistics should give you a certain respect for them.

Cat breeds have changed the world, and with or without us, they’re going to survive. And that’s good news for everyone unless you’re a mouse. 

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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