Tuesday 19 April 2011

Cat Statistics

Feral cats - we need better stats
Photo by dimitridf

Either there are no cat statistics, or they are disheartening cat statistics. In the USA there is a need for a proper government compiled and managed national statistics database on matters pertaining to cat adoption, cat abandonment, cat rescue and cat cruelty.

We need to get a handle on cat ownership in the USA. The same can be said incidentally about most countries. I am mainly writing about the US because that is the biggest domestic cat market and perhaps the most advanced market for companion animals although there are some peculiarities and anomalies in the USA companion animal market. I am thinking of cat declawing (legal in USA, illegal elsewhere) and the huge number of pet tigers (believed to be about 12,000) far more than wild tigers worldwide.

ASPCA provides some cat statistics but says that there is no government body that is responsible for compiling the figures.

What figures we do have paint an uncomfortable picture of a nation that has what could only be described as a dysfunctional relationship with companion animals. Despite the many millions of cat and dog lovers 5 to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters each year. Seventy-five percent of the cats that enter shelters are killed. ASPCA calls it "euthanized" but with respect to them, this is incorrect. Euthanasia is the humane killing of animals that are sick. Most of 3 to 4 million killed in shelters are not sick. But it appears that we don't know the statistics. The statistics that we have are sometimes estimates. How many feral cats are there in the USA? Seventy million? Maybe. Some say the number of ferals is the same as the number of domestic cats. How many domestic cats are there? We don't know the exact figure. HSUS says 93.6m. ASPCA says 85m. HSUS uses American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, while ASPCA uses Pet Food Institute for these figures.

In a more functional relationship with the companion animal there would be a balance between supply and demand. The number of animals available for adoption (A) would be the same as the number of people who want to adopt (B). Supply (A) = demand (B).

As about 2,600,000 cats are killed each year (75% of of 3.5m estimated in shelters) supply outstrips demand by 2.6m (C).

A = B + C

This is probably incorrect because it does not take into account abandoned cats that die outside after becoming strays. As there are about 70m feral cats which possibly includes stray cats it might be fair to deduce that, of these, about 5 million are simply abandoned strays that do not find there way to shelters where they are killed.

Some basic cat statistics for USA:
  • 2.45 cats per household
  • 93.6 million owned cats
  • 38 m people want a cat (93.6 divided by 2.45)
  • 3.5 m in shelters
  • 75% killed (2.6 m)
  • 70 m feral - estimate
There needs to be an oversight government body on cat statistics and dog statistics to allow people to formulate an informed strategy into reducing supply and upping demand in the formula above. In addition I would prefer a government department tackling the feral cat problem and irresponsible cat ownership. All this should be supported and instigated through obligatory, nationwide registration of domestic cats. Perhaps one county or state might start a pilot scheme.

Here are some cat and pet statistics from across the world:

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