Yes, it is estimated that there are more dogs than cats in the world as at 2020. In fact there are more dogs by a factor of two (100% more). The word “estimated” is important because nobody is actually counting. We are of course referring to domestic dogs and domestic cats and their feral or stray counterparts (i.e. I am not including true wild cats and wild dogs). The situation is complicated because in the developed world a dog is meant to be a pet dog living with a family but in the developing world it appears that pet dogs are relatively uncommon and there are many village, community or feral dogs. Something similar can be said about cats. The default situation in many developing countries is the community cat rather than the domestic cat living inside a home with a family.
Percentage of feral, stray or community animals?
It is said, that between 17 and 24% of dogs are “pets” in the developed world and the remainder are community dogs. You might read information on the internet about a fairly equal number of feral cats and domestic cats. But people don’t count how many feral cats there are and we estimate the number of domestic cats. If, example, there are about 90 million domestic cats in America then some people say there are 90 million feral cats. Other people say the number of feral cats is much lower than that. As I said we don’t really know because no one is counting.
Although estimates, Wikipedia says that the global population of dogs is 900 million of which 83% are “unrestrained”. Unrestrained must mean dogs which are in the community and not strictly speaking owned by an individual or family. The same source says that the global population of cats is estimated to be between 200 million and 600 million. Personally, I have always believed that the number is something in the order of 400 million or 500 million.
Community animals dominate worldwide
On these figures, you can see, that the number of dogs is about twice the number of cats on the planet. This must be because there are more community or unrestrained dogs relative to their overall number compared to cats. It is perhaps difficult for people in the West End in developed countries to visualise a completely different set of rules and circumstances governing how people interact with cats and dogs in developing countries.
Dogs are utility animals – domesticated for longer than cats
The reason for the the much larger population of dogs must because they have been domesticated for much longer i.e. since about 20,000-30,000 years ago compared to about 10,000 years ago for cats. And dogs were and still are utility animals. They work. They are useful in developing countries. Their usefulness means they are more common.
The website statista.com tells us that there are over 470 million domesticated pet dogs worldwide compared to about 370 million pet cats worldwide as at 2018. If these figures are correct and if we compare them to the Wikipedia figures, the number of feral dogs is about the same as domesticated dogs on the planet and the number of feral cats is much lower than the number of domestic cats. These figures are therefore misleading in my view. I would favour the Wikipedia figures because we have to accept that the bulk of dogs and cats are made up of community animals which makes counting them far harder.
Vague and domestication is a fail it appears
My answer is somewhat vague and perhaps disappointing but it has to be. You won’t find clear cut numbers presented with certainty. Humankind does not have control over the domestication of dogs or cats. They lost that thousands of years ago. This is why arguably the domestication process has turned out to be a failure because it was never meant to be like this. Each individual cat and dog should be individually cared for by a person or a family. That would be an ideal arrangement. As we are so far from that that ideal, we have to judge ourselves as having failed.