Cat population as a percentage of human population

by Michael
(London, UK)

Cat mosaic on house façade, Brussels, Belgium - photo by Dr Les Sachs

On my internet travels this morning, I bumped into a chart that set out the population of domestic cats in various countries for the years 1998 and 1996. Please note that these figures relate to domestic cats not feral cats.

I thought that it would be nice to compare the figures with the human populations of these countries to make a comparison. Cat population figures alone don't say much.

The result is the spreadsheet below:

So what does this tell us? Well, I am not entirely sure but I will make some guesses.

It is probably accepted that the United States is the country where the domestic cat is the most popular companion animal. The chart above supports this. However, I cannot ignore the other fact, which is at the other end of the spectrum, namely that the USA is the only country that allows widespread declawing of cats for non-therpeutic reasons. There are about 20 million declawed cats in the USA. This is a paradox. One set of figures says that the USA is the place where domestic cats are loved and kept the most. And the other figures say it is the place where the domestic cat is legally abused the most. Nothing comes close to the abuse figures. In fact they are unique in the world. I am sorry to go on about it but declawing is a horrible stain on a great nation that I like.

Also I am compelled to say that the preference for keeping domestic cats can go hand in hand with an irresponsible attitude to keeping cats. The result? More feral cats. Irresponsibility is bound up with selfishness (see my conclusion below).

The other figure that stands out a bit for me is that Britain is not a close second to the United States coming 17th in this ratio of cats to people.

Britain is said to be a land of animal lovers. This is true in a sense but there is still a good amount of animal cruelty in Britain.

The figures do not include dogs. And this leads me nicely to the figures for Spain. Spain is an EU country. It has been for a long time. But there are precious few domestic cats as pets in Spain in comparison to the USA.

However a different source (/www.snvel.fr), tells me that Spain ranks 3rd in the European region of countries for total number of cats and dogs as pets. That indicates that the Spanish prefer dogs. Why I wonder? Once again I am not sure but it may be because there are more rural communities in Spain than say in more densely populated Britain. In dense urban environments where there are small homes (apartments), and where people work away from home at the office, a cat must be the more practical and humane choice. Dogs are ideal as working animals on farms etc.

There also seems to be a culture of hunting in Spain that is quite naturally not in the interest of animals. This indicates to me a barrier to accepting the domestic cat on the right terms

There also seems to be a division along the lines of the cooler and wetter countries where there are more domestic cats per head of population than in the drier and warmer western countries.

The bottom four are all warm to hot countries, Spain, Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. In these countries there is the potential for greater numbers of feral cats as living outside is more practical. The overt presence of feral cats may turn people away from keeping domestic cats and/or people may keep cats but they may be stray cats and not domesticated.

These, as I said, are guesses no more. It has to be said too that in some of the warmer countries, whose economies are somewhat based on tourism, the feral cat can be persecuted by being exterminated rather than managing them with proper trap, neuter and return programs.

I think that the lack of sensitivity towards the cat (or perhaps animals generally) is indicated in this maltreatment of feral cats.

These warmer but less economically rich countries (Israel is the exception as it is pretty rich), have poor animal welfare laws. They have an underdeveloped animal welfare system. If there is animal welfare legislation it is not enforced properly. There is a lack of will. This informs us as to their attitude to the domestic cat. The people of these countries probably prefer the dog, seeing it as more useful and the cat as not at all useful. They are incorrect in that assessment as the cat was domesticated for the very reason that it is useful as a rodent catcher.

In the middle ground we have countries such as Australia. Australians like domestic cats on the basis of these figures. But in general they hate feral cats and treat them brutally on occasion. They are allowed to shoot them in some states. This is also a paradox as feral cats originate from domestic cats and they are essentially the same animal.

In conclusion it seems that many people, no matter where they live, love their cats but it has to be on their terms. The keeping of a cat for many is for the benefit of the person. It is not an entirely equal relationship. This is what underpins the horrible practice of declawing. People are so inured with the idea that the cat is there for their convenience that they deceive themselves into justifying declawing. They do this despite declaring that their cat is a member of the family!

The relationship between domestic cat and human should be firmly based on one of equality. This ensures a balanced relationship and respect for the cat. Respect for the domestic cat will always express itself in the best form of animal welfare.

From Cat population as a percentage of human population to Cat Facts

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Cat population as a percentage of human population

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Sep 29, 2010
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Hi Rudolph
by: Michael

I wish there were figures for Asian countries. There probably are somewhere. The source I used didn't have them.

I will try and find some figures and add them. If you bump into a website that has cat population figures for Asian countries please tell me - thanks.


Sep 29, 2010
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Cat population as % of human population.
by: Rudolph.A.Furtado

I was very surprised to find not even a single Asian country included in the "cat survey" of the 1990's era. I have personally visited Japan, Korea and Singapore a few times in the 1980,s and 1990's, finding their living standards on par with most developed Western and American country's as also their pet ownership. Cats are a favourite pet in Japan and honestly, i took a fancy to cats after my Tokyo visit in 1995, also purchasing a "cat souvenier",sculptor of a cat in a sitting posture called "Dayan".my first cat, "Trixie" a albino-siameese mix was a "Pet-shop discard" that i adopted in 1995 after my arrival to Mumbai from my shipboard employment as a "Marine engineer". Since then, i have become a "cat-Man" owning cats, for personal living convenience reasons as well as taking a fancy to them, previously being a "dog-Owner".Sure, a survey of cats conducted in 2000's would include Asian and African country's where "Pet ownership" is gaining momentum with a parallel increase in personal incomes and effects of a "Globalised world".


Sep 28, 2010
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Well said Ruth
by: Michael

I agree with you Ruth. It is sad but it seems to be true.

I find it odd. The love for the domestic cat in the USA coupled with all that seems to be wrong.

It is said, by the way, that the shelters really don't have to kill cats as there are enough homes but the shelters are not trying hard enough to rehome them. There seems to be a culture of killing (euphemistically called "euthanasia") rather than rehoming in many shelters - but not all. Some are amazing. It is a question of commitment and organisation.

And we know that cats need not be declawed. And we also know that cats can easily be spayed and neutered. So what is happening in the richest country in the world?


Sep 28, 2010
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Many are kittens
by: Ruth

That is really interesting Michael.What is very wrong about the USA having so many more cats than any other country is that thousands of them are in Rescue Shelters and many of those will be killed because there are not enough homes for them all.
Helping to do a data study for a good while now for an American vet I find it shocking that there are thousands of little kittens in Shelters.So many that we are now doing a kitten count twice weekly too. Entire litters from 8 weeks old, obviously handed in because the irresponsible people who let the mother cat breed didn't know what else to do with them. Worse still, some Shelters offer the incentive of having those tiny kittens declawed before adoption.These Shelters are encouraging people to think a declawed cat is better than a clawed one !
The Vets over there should concentrate on encouraging the neutering of cats by educating clients about it and by giving discounts on that rather than encouraging the declawing of them.
Thankfully not everyone is alike in the USA but to many, cats are just another possession and to the declawing ones their worth is less than their treasured furniture.


Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

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