Worrying Cat Ownership and Veterinarian Statistics

In the USA, the number of companion animal veterinary practitioners has increased significantly. However, the number of cat owners has decreased slightly. A third statistic has always disturbed me: the number of annual visits to a veterinarian by a typical cat owner is less than half that of a dog owner. Is that because dogs are sicker than cats or because owners are less concerned about cat health than dog owners? The reason is likely to be the latter.

Over the ten years to 2007, US companion animal veterinary practitioners increased in numbers by 48% (44,785). At at 2013 there are about 49,000 exclusively companion animal veterinarians or those predominantly involved with companion animals, so the 2007 figure has continued to increase. This is a hefty expansion of providers of companion animal veterinary services chasing a smaller potential client base. For the first time in 20 years cat and dog ownership has declined.

The number of cat visits to vets has declined since 2001 and not risen in the past five years, while dog visits have increased.

Spending by dog and cat owners at vet clinic has been flat since 2006 taking into account inflation. In fact Dr. Chip Beckett, a veterinarian and a recent member of the AVMA’s House of Delegates states that the incomes of most veterinary clinics has dropped since 2008. If a vet simply maintains his turnover and profit margin year on year on year he is happy. This equates to a fall when inflation is taken into account.

The bottom line is that if vets are under financial pressure, the less scrupulous ones will tend to find work and that will probably include the entirely unnecessary procedure of declawing. Or cat vaccinations will be encouraged despite the fact that they might be unnecessary too.

Best veterinarian priortises animal welfare
Post by Ruth aka Kattaddorra
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

The pressure for a vet to find work is set against a slight shift in opinion, amongst the veterinary profession in North America, against declawing. That is what I sense. It would be a shame if the brakes were put on a movement against declawing because there are more vets chasing less consumer spending.

Why has pet ownership declined? The obvious reason in the long recession in America. The rapid expansion of the internet has probably had an impact too. People are more involved with the internet and perhaps also with moving home more to chase work. Cats and dogs make moving home more difficult. It might be the case that pet ownership has reached saturation point in the USA when set against the continuing financial difficulties in the country. I believe that uncertainty about one’s future impacts on one’s decision on adopting a cat or dog. The modern world presents an uncertain future for many people, anywhere. This is why older people are more naturally suited to keeping a cat. Their lives are more stable.

  1. Sources of information (interpretation by MB): AVMA as interpreted by Vin News Service and the AVMA direct.
  2. Thanks: to Ruth aka Kattaddorra for her poster that was originally created for an article on vets generally and declawing as I recall. I reused it here.

8 thoughts on “Worrying Cat Ownership and Veterinarian Statistics”

  1. Sadly, I don’t think a lot of people have as close a relationship with their cats as their dogs.
    They think of cats as being self sufficient.

    Regardless of law, many people toss their cats out the door and don’t pay attention to them except to feed them. They don’t keep track of their annual checks or even if they may need medical attention. Sometimes, they don’t even know that they are gone (killed, animak control, etc.) until they haven’t shown up for some days. By that time, they have been killed in the shelter sometimes.

  2. ‘It would be a shame if the brakes were put on a movement against declawing because there are more vets chasing less consumer spending’

    I think that the battle to stop declawing has gone too far now to be aborted, too many people know the truth about the cruelty of it and declaw vets will have to face up to the fact that their days of making dollars by mutilating cats, are numbered.
    The wonderful Jackson Galaxy (Cat Daddy) is calling for all pet owners to boycott veterinary clinics where they declaw cats, even if they don’t have a cat, he says to take their dog to a no declaw vet.
    It’s getting really serious now and I’m very happy about that because when I joined the anti declaw battle around 6 years ago it seemed hopeless that it would ever stop. A lot of our UK ‘troops’ fell by the wayside but the stalwarts will never give up helping the Americans and Canadians who are determined that declawing will soon be in the history books.

  3. One reason is that in most localities, dogs need to be licensed, and to get that license you need to show proof of a rabies shot. Licenses are renewed every one to three years. I also believe more that more dogs than cats are spay and/or neutered, because the fees are significantly higher for dogs who are not.

    • Where I am, all cats have to be vaccinated and licensed as well as dogs.
      And, spay/neutering fees are about the same for both as well as the licensing fees if they are not.

      • They haven’t licensed cats in my area, but they do limit the number of pets you can own: 3 dogs per household & 9 cats per household. Any more than that, you would need a kennel or cattery license (which is about $300). I have my pets spayed and neutered, and the cats receive shots in their first year to guard against respiratory infections. After that year, I generally don’t, but would for a sickly cat.


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