What Country Do Most Cats Live In?

Cats are one of the most popular pets in the world, with over 600 million domestic cats living alongside humans. But did you know that cats were first domesticated in ancient Egypt some 4,000 years ago? Fascinating feline facts aside, this article aims to explore cat populations by country and determine which has the highest number of cats.

Global Cat Population

There are an estimated 600-700 million cats in the world, with the global population estimated between 500-600 million domestic cats and at least 60-100 million feral cats according to https://a-z-animals.com/blog/how-many-cats-are-in-the-world/. This represents a significant increase from an estimated 200 million domestic cats in the 1980s. The cat population has grown rapidly alongside the human population.

Of the global cat population, only about 35% are owned house cats according to https://blog.catbandit.com/how-many-cats-are-there-in-the-world/. The other 65% are stray and feral cats living on the streets. Stray cats are socialized to humans but do not have an owner, while feral cats are not socialized and avoid human contact. The large stray and feral population presents challenges for controlling cat overpopulation and protecting wildlife preyed upon by cats.

Factors Influencing Cat Populations

Cultural attitudes towards cats vary greatly around the world and impact cat populations. In ancient Egypt, cats were revered and worshipped as deities like the cat goddess Bastet. Killing a cat carried severe punishment in Egypt [1]. In contrast, cultures like China historically viewed cats as pests and carriers of disease. These cultural views influenced how cats were treated and impacted cat populations in these regions.

Economic factors like income levels also enable or limit cat ownership. Wealthier countries with higher disposable incomes have higher rates of cat ownership and larger cat populations. Poorer developing countries often have more limited veterinary care, fewer pet stores, and lower cat ownership rates. Climate suitability also impacts cat populations. Cats thrive in temperate regions but struggle in extremely hot or cold climates. This means cat populations tend to be lower in areas with more extreme temperatures.

Countries With the Most Cats

According to the first source, the countries with the largest cat populations in the world are:

  1. United States – Approximately 80 million house cats and up to 80 million feral cats
  2. China – Around 53 million house cats according to one estimate
  3. Russia – Over 12 million cats
  4. Brazil – Around 12.4 million house cats
  5. France – 9.5 million pet cats
  6. Italy – 7.4 million pet cats
  7. United Kingdom – 7.4 million pet cats
  8. Ukraine – Around 7 million cats
  9. Romania – 5 million house cats
  10. Poland – Over 4 million cats

The large cat population in the US can be attributed to the high rates of cat ownership. Cats are the most popular pet in the country. Stray and feral cats also contribute to the high totals. In China, cats have become increasingly popular as pets in recent decades as the country has grown wealthier. The UK and France also have long-standing cultural appreciation for cats as pets. Countries like Ukraine and Romania have high numbers of stray cats that boost totals. Overall, cats are one of the most common pets globally.

#1 Country for Cats: The United States

Research shows that the United States has the largest cat population in the world. With an estimated 76-96 million cats, America surpasses other countries by a significant margin when it comes to the total number of pet cats living within its borders.

Cats are deeply ingrained in American culture and daily life. Over 30% of American households own at least one cat. This feline-loving culture is reinforced by popular media like memes, viral videos, and famous celebrity cat owners. The climate in much of the U.S. also allows cats to live outdoors year-round.

High ownership rates coupled with large numbers of unowned and feral cats contribute to the massive tally of cats across the country. American cat lovers go to great lengths to care for this huge cat population. The large numbers do present challenges, but it’s clear cats have firmly cemented their place in American homes.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are approximately 76-96 million pet cats in the United States as of 2022. This dwarfs the pet cat populations of other countries like China and Russia, solidifying America’s status as the global leader for total feline inhabitants.

Source: https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/reports-statistics/us-pet-ownership-statistics

Reasons for High Cat Populations

The United States has a very high population of cats for several reasons. First, it is a large and wealthy country that can support a massive pet population. Americans spent over $103 billion on their pets in 2021 alone. This allows many households to have one or more pet cats.

Additionally, cats are a popular pet choice in American culture. Cats are seen as lower maintenance than dogs, and American lifestyles tend to accommodate cat ownership. Apartment living and smaller households both lend themselves to cat guardianship.

Spaying and neutering are not as universally practiced in the U.S. as in some other developed countries. As a result, there is a larger intact cat population that contributes to ongoing reproduction and population growth. The mild climate across much of the U.S. also allows cats to thrive and breed outdoors year-round.

While animal welfare efforts have grown, the U.S. still has large numbers of unowned and feral cats. These free-roaming cats reproduce at much higher rates than owned pets. Overall, these cultural and economic factors have created ideal conditions for a huge domestic cat population in America.

Impacts of Large Cat Populations

Large populations of domestic cats can have significant environmental impacts. Cats are natural hunters and will prey on local wildlife like birds, reptiles and small mammals even when well-fed. According to a study, cats kill between 1.3-4 billion birds and between 6.3-22.3 billion mammals each year in the United States alone. This predation can threaten populations of small native animals and birds.

Cats also spread diseases that can infect wildlife populations. For example, toxoplasmosis is a disease cats carry that has been linked to deaths of marine mammals like sea otters. Large outdoor cat populations increase the risk of spreading such diseases to wildlife.

In terms of health impacts, large feral cat colonies can spread parasites and diseases to pet cats and potentially even humans. Fecal contamination from cats can also enter waterways and spread illness. Trap-neuter-return programs may help control feral cat populations while avoiding euthanasia.

Efforts to Control Cat Populations

Over the last few decades, many initiatives have been launched in an effort to control rapidly growing cat populations around the world. Two of the most common and widely supported approaches are spaying/neutering programs and adoption initiatives.

Spaying or neutering cats is considered the most effective and humane way to stabilize cat populations long-term. Animal welfare organizations and local governments often run trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs to spay/neuter community cats and then return them to their outdoor home. Studies show TNR programs can successfully reduce colony populations and kitten births over time. According to research from the University of Florida, a TNR program in Alachua County, Florida helped reduce the county’s feral cat population by 66% over a decade [1]. Many communities now mandate and subsidize spaying/neutering of adopted cats and offer low-cost services to make it accessible for all pet owners.

Adoption initiatives also play a key role by transitioning cats from shelters/rescues into forever homes. Creative marketing campaigns and community partnerships help increase adoption rates. For example, New York City Animal Care Centers increased cat adoptions 149% over 4 years through partnerships with adoption events, retail spaces, and foster programs [2]. However, adequate spay/neuter and vaccination resources are still needed to prevent adopted cats from further contributing to uncontrolled breeding and disease transmission.

While TNR and adoption programs have seen measurable success, consistently implementing these initiatives takes immense community coordination and resources. Reducing cat populations to sustainable levels remains an ongoing challenge worldwide.

The Future of Cats

While pet ownership trends can change, cats are expected to remain one of the most popular companion animals worldwide. According to Slate, the global cat population is predicted to continue growing to nearly 2 billion by 2050. This growth will likely be driven by increasing rates of cat ownership in developing countries.

We may also see new cat ownership trends emerge. As reported by Inverse, there is growing interest in unique cat breeds like Bengals, Savannahs, and dwarf cats. Advances in genetics and breeding may lead to new hybrid cat breeds in the future. There is also a trend toward more intensive cat parenting, with owners investing more time and money into premium foods, toys, and accessories for their cats.

While the future is uncertain, it seems clear cats will continue to hold a special place in homes around the world. Their popularity and adaptability suggests cats are poised to remain one of humanity’s favorite animal companions.


In summary, while cats are popular pets around the world, their populations are concentrated in certain countries due to factors like culture, climate, and public policy. We examined how the United States has the most cats of any nation, with around 76 million felines, partly due to high rates of pet ownership. Stray and feral cats also thrive in the US. We also explored reasons for abundant cat numbers in countries like China, Russia, and Brazil. Large populations of stray and feral cats can have detrimental impacts like predation on wildlife and the spread of diseases. Control methods involve spay/neuter programs, reducing abandonment, and re-homing cats. Looking ahead, promoting responsible pet ownership and humane population management will be key to ensuring healthy lives for cats while protecting ecosystems.

With cats living on every continent except Antarctica, their global population likely exceeds 200 million. While cats bring joy to many as beloved pets, managing their numbers responsibly remains an important challenge worldwide. Through humane policies and public education, cats and humans can coexist while protecting nature’s balance.

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