Friday 27 March 2009

Percentage of Cats in Households

Costa Rica guard dogIn my opinion the percentage of cats in households measures a country's development. We all know that the world has developed at different rates. It could be argued that some countries are literally hundreds of years behind others engaging in tribal warfare and living in anarchy (Somalia, as at the date of this post, is an example). There are many others. I am not critical of these countries. It is just a sad fact of the world and unsettling because it makes unified action impossible. We all pull in different directions.

What I mean when I say that the percentage of cats in households measures a country's development is this. Cats are considered non-utilitarian. They cannot perform a duty for the "owner". Well that is what people in certain countries think. In fact cats perform a major "work function" namely to make us happier and to slow us down (and healthier). But people from some countries perceive "utility" in a more tangible way. If a pet can be a companion and be useful as well, so much the better, and in countries where human survival is more problematic a useful pet is more interesting to people and more valuable as it facilitates survival.

On that argument we would expect to see the domestic dog more popular than the domestic cat in countries where life is harder. There are few surveys of this kind but one on Costa Rica serves the purpose:

Country % households keeping Dog % keeping Cat
Costa Rica 53.0 14.8
Australia 39.7 26.5
USA 32-39.4 27-32.4
UK 28 22
Incidence of cats and dogs among households expressed as percentages of all households. The USA figures are quite old and I believe there are more cats than dogs currently but the point of the post is made.

There is a stark difference in the percentage of cats in households in Costa Rica to the other countries listed. The void is filled by the domestic dog. A popular use for a dog is as a guard dog (see picture above of a Costa Rica guard dog). Sometimes they are cruelly chained up all the time. In some parts of the world (or areas of countries of the world) the cat is considered so useless as to be only fit for consumption (yes, a use but a wrong one I argue - Cat Meat Name and Shame and Cat Meat Philosophy).

Percentage of Cats in Households -- Source:
  • - Costa Rica, USA and Australia figures
  • - UK figures
Photo of a Costa Rica guard dog by dipthongasaurus rex and published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License -- this site is for charitable purposes in funding cat rescue.

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