Thursday 28 October 2021

2.3m unowned cats in the UK and 70m in the USA

If anybody is interested, there are 2.3 million unowned (stray and feral) cats in the UK. The figure was worked out by Cats Protection. Is it accurate? They decided that there were 9.3 unowned cats per square kilometre in the UK. As the UK is 248,532 km² there are 9.3×248,532 unowned cats which makes 2.3m.

2.3 million unowned cats in the UK and 70m in the USA.
2.3 million unowned cats in the UK and 70m in the USA. Stray, scavenging cat. Photo in public domain.

However, they also said that there are about a quarter of a million stray cats living in UK cities or urban areas. That would mean there are around 2 million unowned cats living away from urban areas, in the countryside. I don't think their calculations are correct, I have got to say. I don't think there are about 2 million unowned cat wandering around the British countryside. There might be but I would doubt it.

My distinct impression is that nearly all feral cats in the UK are in urban areas. They used a computer model I think to work out an average of 9.3 unowned cats per square kilometre in the UK. They also admit that this figure varies from 1.9-57 dependent upon the location.

USA comparison

On a like-for-like human population basis with America, the figures don't really add up because the experts say that there are about 70 million feral cats in America. The human population of America is currently 330 million which is about five times that of the UK. If we take the human population as a guide as to the number of feral cats in the US there should be around 11 million feral cats in America i.e. 2.3×5 which is around 11 million. This is about one seventh of the estimated figure.

It is hard to know what is going on. Perhaps the problem is that both the estimated number of feral cats in America and the calculations of Cat Protection are simply not that precise and therefore you can't really make a comparison between the countries on this matter. 

USA - overestimation of feral cat numbers?

Perhaps Americans have overestimated the number of feral cats in the USA? It is possible. A lot of the information about feral cats concerns predation on wildlife and this comes from ornithologists who want the numbers to be high as it fits their agenda of keeping cats inside.

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