Which are more popular pets: dogs or cats? According to pet ownership statistics, this varies from one country to the next.
Overall, there are more pet cats than pet dogs in Canada, the United States, most European nations, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia (though in the US, there are more dog-owning households because dog owners often have just one whereas cat owners tend to have more). Pet dogs outnumber pet cats in Mexico, many South American and African nations, India, Australia, and China.
Nations where many more households have cats than dogs (5%+ difference in pet ownership rates) include Sweden, France, Germany, New Zealand, and Russia. Nations where the rate of dog ownership is at least 5% higher include the US, South Korea, Spain, Poland, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, and Italy. Nations with balanced cat-dog ratios (a difference of 2% or less ) include Canada, the UK, and the Netherlands.
More affluent nations tend to have similar rates of dog and cat ownership or favour cats, whereas those with underdeveloped or emerging economies tend to favour dogs, with a few exceptions. This makes sense because in places where survival is more challenging, dogs are often used for protection, hunting, or other functional purposes. Although cats also perform vital rodent control services in many of these nations, protecting food stores against rats and reducing the risk of rodent-borne diseases, they tend to be ferals rather than pets (feline rodent control benefits can be gained without sacrificing scarce resources to feed and care for cats).
Within the US, there are major state-by-state differences in cat-versus-dog preferences. Pet owners are more likely to choose cats in the Northern states (except for Montana), whereas dogs predominate in the southern states (with the exceptions of California and Florida). Dogs are most strongly favoured in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Missouri, New Mexico, and Arizona. States where cat-dog ratios indicate a strong cat preference include Oregon, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio.
People in cities are more likely to have cats, likely because it’s more challenging to keep dogs in urban areas. The rural-urban cat-dog divide is also evident in international pet ownership statistics, as those in affluent nations are more likely to live in urban centers where it is easier to keep cats.
- Ferdman, R.A., and Ingraham, C. (2014). Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.—and all over the world. The Washington Post, July 28. www.WashingtonPost.com.
- GfK. (2016). Pet ownership: Global GfK survey. www.GfK.com.
- The New Zealand Companion Animal Council. (2016). Companion animals in New Zealand 2016. www.nzcac.org.nz.