We’ve all encountered a stray cat at some point. And it’s heartbreaking. But just how many cats are in the world?

Unfortunately, if you see one, there are usually 100 in the same situation right behind it. That’s why we need programs in place to keep cats healthy and safe. 

Getting an exact estimate on the number of cats worldwide is nearly impossible, but we’ve searched long and hard for the information we think you should know.

Meow, without further ado, let’s have a look at how many feline friends we have. 

Fascinating Facts on the Number of Cats in the World

  • There are between 200–600 million cats worldwide.
  • In 2018, humans kept around 373 million cats as pets worldwide. 
  • 31% of cats come from animal shelters. 
  • 100,000 shelter cats manage to find their way back home. 
  • Only 3% of cats are from a breeder. 
  • Close to 26% of US houses own a cat.
  • Over three million cats enter US shelters each year.
  • Cat owners spend around $201 on average for surgical vet visits a year.
  • 47% of cat owners make over $55,000 a year.

How Many Cats Are in the World Now? 

It’s a challenging question to answer because cats are known to hide away. So we may never know the global feline population, but here’s what we do know:

  1. There Are Between 200–600 Million Cats Worldwide. 

(Source: WorldAtlas)

  • In 2018, humans kept around 373 million cats as pets worldwide. 
  • 31% of cats come from animal shelters
  • 28% of owners got their kitties from a friend or family. 
  • Additionally, 27% simply take in a stray. 

That’s today, but what was the world cat population like before? 

  1. In 2007, There Were Around 158 Million Cats Worldwide. 

(Source: WorldAtlas)

  • In 1998, Australia had over three million cats.
  • In the same year, Japan had around seven million.
  • Also, Europe was home to 76 million

We often think of the domestic cat population when we think of cats, but what about the others? 

Feral Cat Population Statistics

Since cats can have so many litters, the number of stray cats is too much to count. But we do know how many get into shelters. 

  1. Over Three Million Cats Enter US Shelters Each Year. 

(Source: ASPCA)

  • Cat statistics show that shelters euthanize around 530,000 cats annually. Not for lack of trying but because there are simply too many to care for.
  • Still, 2.1 million cats get adopted from shelters.
  • Surprisingly, 100,000 cats from shelters manage to find their way back home.

So, how many cats in the world are strays? It’s impossible to know, but here’s what we can tell you about the US. 

  1. 27% of Owned Cats Started as Strays. 

(Source: ASPCA)

  • 46% of kitty owners learned about them through word of mouth. 
  • Only 3% of cats are from a breeder. 
  • In seven years, one female cat and her babies can have a staggering 370,000 kittens. That’s why trap neuter release (TNR) programs are so crucial. 

Cat owners don’t care much about breeds. But if you genuinely want to know more about your kitty, we recommend trying a DNA test for cats.

How Many Cats Are in the US?

The US has the largest owned cat population worldwide. Let’s explore what this means. 

  1. Close to 26% of US Houses Have a Cat. 

(Source: AVMA)

  • The average number of cats per household in the US is 1.8. 
  • One in four US households owns a cat.
  • The US has close to 59 million owned cats. 

So we know how many cats there are in the US. But what does it take to own a cat?

  1. Cat Owners Spend Around $201 on Average for Surgical Vet Visits a Year.

(Source: APPA)

  • The average routine care visit costs per year are about $178. But they can go up dramatically if you have one of the more popular breeds
  • Owners spend over $250 a year on cat food and $72 on treats.
  • Plus, about $30 on professional grooming or tools.
  • One of the fastest-growing markets is cat CBD oil. The CBD pet market was worth over $27 million in 2019 and is estimated to grow to $1.7 billion by 2025. 

Knowing the number of cats in the world and how much it costs to take care of a cat, what can cat owner demographics show us?

Cat Ownership Statistics

  1. Across All Pet-Owning Households, Around 50% Had an Income of Over $55,000 a Year.

(Source: AVMA)

  • Breaking that down, 47% of cat owners earn more than $55,000 a year. 
  • White households own the most cats, with 31.8%. 
  • Meanwhile, Hispanic households have the most dogs — 44.6%. 

Understanding demographics can give us a much better picture of cat population stats. 

Wrap Up

So how many cats are in the world? No one can give you a straight answer. Cats are notorious loners, especially if they aren’t domesticated.

Still, you can be sure that there are millions of cats worldwide. More importantly, many strays need a home. So if you’re ever in the market for a kitty, please adopt and don’t shop.

FAQ

What country has the most cats?

The US comes in first place with close to 59 million cats. The numbers vary dramatically, but that’s the most accurate one. China is next with 53 million cats and the third-largest pet industry worldwide. Finally, Russia has close to 13 million cats and the largest kitty population in Europe.  

How many species of cats are there in the world?

There are 38 cat species globally — these range from tiny domestics to the largest wild cats, like the Siberian tiger. But we’ve distinguished between 40–70 breeds. The International Cat Association (TICA) recognizes 71 breeds. 

How many sand cats are left in the world?

The sand cat is native to the Sahara desert, and it’s recorded in parts of Asia, too. The breed is reclusive besides mating, so finding them remains challenging. Sand cats don’t do well in captivity, with only around 200 in European zoos. While the breed isn’t endangered, that could change soon as humans take over its habitat. Plus, they’re popular on the black market. 

How many big cats are in the world?

There are seven species of big cats — the tiger, lion, jaguar, and four leopard species. Each one is endangered due to human involvement or habitat loss. One of the most critically endangered big cats is the South China tiger. We don’t know whether there are any left in the wild, and there are less than 200 in captivity.

How many big cats are poached in the world?

The main target was Asian tigers. But since there are less than 4,000 left, other big cats are at the top of the poaching list. Lions are now a massive target in Africa, where their population decreased by 43% between 1993–2016. There are more tigers in captivity than in the wild.

How many wild cats are there in the world?

There are 38 species of wild cats worldwide. Each has varying populations, and some are secluded, so gathering information is a challenge. But one thing is for sure — we can’t afford to continue pushing these cats out of their habitat. The chance to see these beautiful creatures in the wild is dwindling quickly.

Are there more cats or dogs in the world?

In 2018, there were more dogs than cats. Dog populations were around 470 million, while cats stood at about 373 million. The numbers vary by location, but the US has more dogs. Meanwhile, China prefers cats. Surprisingly, 91 countries prefer cats over dogs, but dogs win in terms of the worldwide population.

What person has the most cats?

A couple in Kingston, Ontario, holds the Guinness World Record for the most cats with 689. They don’t turn any feline that makes its way into their home. Meanwhile, Lynea Lattanzio houses over 1,000 cats. But don’t worry. They’re all at her cat sanctuary in California — The Cat House on the Kings. 

How many stray cats are there in the US? 

In 2018, estimates suggested there were around 58 million stray cats in the US. But the numbers vary dramatically between 35–75 million. Unfortunately, most strays live under the radar, so they aren’t tallied in population polls. If you come across a stray, call local shelters to find out what to do. 

Which country has no cats?

If learning how many cats are in the world gives you anxiety, you may want to look into moving to Antarctica. You’ll find no living cat breeds there. Still, you won’t find very many people either. Antarctica has some of the harshest weather conditions, making it near impossible for most animals, including us, to live there for long periods.

  1. WorldAtlas
  2. ASPCA
  3. AVMA
  4. APPA
  5. AVMA
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