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Cats.
The UK loves them.
It's official!

Download full PDF report See our regional reports
 
 

CATS (Cats and Their Stats) first annual report.

Packed with cat statistics, this report gives a broad picture of cats in the UK. An insight into their lives, their relationship with us and the role they play.

We spoke to over 10,000 people in early spring 2020, both cat owners and potential cat owners. The result? Up-to-date cat statistics on everything from ageing to allergies.

Forget the cold and aloof perception – our cats are comforters, confidantes, entertainers. They shape our lives, improve mental health and reduce stress.

But we found that cats aren’t without stress of their own. Cats are complex creatures and need to be understood. Through small changes, we can help enrich their lives… and reduce their stress too!

This is just the beginning. Every year from now, we’ll build a greater understanding of cats in the UK with updated cat statistics.

If you need a cat stat, make it a CATS one.

 

People and cats

Many people ask how many cats there are in the UK. Did you know there are 10.2 million owned cats in the UK? That’s almost 1 for every 6 people!

  • 23% of 27.8m households own a cat
  • 1.6 cats per cat-owning household
  • 5.3m cats are female and 4.9m are male
  • 37% of owners have more than one cat
 

Age is just a number

Cats are considered ‘mature’ from the age of seven (44 in human years) and almost half (43%) of the UK’s cats are mature.

Cat ownership is highest among people aged 25-54 (28%), while those under 45 are more likely to buy a cat than adopt one (33%).

 

Breeds and mogs

Want to know about the most represented cat breeds in the UK? We surveyed owners.

70% told us their cats are moggies, 6% didn’t know and 24% said they thought their cats were pedigree breeds.

 Did you know? When it comes to cat breeds in the UK, the only valid proof of pedigree is to get a certificate from a breed association such as the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).
 

So much love

Cats bring joy. Ok, we might be biased but 87% of owners agreed! There’s joy to be had online too, with 64% viewing funny and cute cat pictures and videos.

Cats offer companionship and can relieve stress and loneliness too – 59% said so, which rose to 62% for those aged 18-34.

A huge 91% said their cats are part of the family, and 86% even talk to their cats.

Of course some cats have less endearing habits. 36% of owners have experienced scratched furniture and 22% have received prey from the garden.

But whatever the worry about cat behaviour, there’s great advice from our cat experts.

Our cat is very loving and loyal to the family, he loves to cuddle up on the sofa. He is much loved and a member of the family.

[Female, 56, Greater London]

Cats are fabulous company and when you are feeling sad they just know how to cheer you up with their witty characters and personalities. They make my house feel like a home.

[Female, 28, Scotland]

You guarantee they will always be there, even if it is just for food. I love playing with them as kittens then as they get older they like to keep my lap warm.

[Male, 44, Wales]

 

Cats and their people

One of the best things about having a cat is sitting down after a hard day and giving them a stroke, and 90% of owners said they did this every day. Overall, 78% considered themselves to be heavily involved with their cat; feeding, playing and being there for them.

67% of cats enjoy indoor and outdoor life but 31% live exclusively indoors. Indoor-only living is also more common in urban areas.

 Did you know? Some cats have to live indoors for their own safety due to conditions such as FIV, or having a disability like poor eyesight or hearing. Find out more about indoor cats.
 

Cats in the night

46% of cats were able to come and go freely during the night. Dawn and dusk is when cats are most active, a prime time for them to hunt prey.

We recommend keeping cats in at night to keep your cat safe. Cats are at increased risk from road traffic injuries at night, are more inclined to fight and can come to harm by other animals.

 

Cats get stressed – how to tell?

45% of cats show signs of stress, but despite owners’ best intentions, it can be difficult to spot the signs. The most frequent signs of stress in cats are:

  • bites/scratches me or others - 12%
  • toilets outside litter tray - 9%
  • hides for long periods - 11%
  • urinates outside litter tray - 9%
  • fights with other cats - 11%
  • runs away from me - 9%

Worried your cat might be stressed? Find out more in our guide.

 

Cats and their welfare

 

Neutering

88% of cats are neutered, although 16% of neutered females have a first litter before they are spayed. Indoor cats are less likely to be neutered (81%), but cats can easily escape, so we’d recommend neutering them too.

We recommend that cats should be neutered from four months old as kittens can get pregnant from this age. For many cats (60%), however, they were neutered at five months of age or later.

 Did you know? Female cats that haven’t been neutered can have up to three litters a year and 18 kittens a year! Find out more about neutering your cat.
 

Microchips reunite

Microchipping is a safe, permanent and low-cost way of identifying a cat. There are many benefits of microchipping cats. However, there are still over 2.6 million owned cats not microchipped across the UK (26%).

 Did you know? Microchipping has been compulsory for dogs since 2016 but still not for cats. Find out what makes it important, including the benefits of microchipping cats.
 

A weighty issue

Obesity is a growing problem in cats, with 32% of owners believing their cat to be overweight. 35% believed their cat was underweight, 28% said ideal weight and 5% didn’t know.

Is your cat overweight?

If your cat is overweight, consider their diet, lifestyle and environment. Find out more in our guide.

Know your cat's body shape

Think your cat might be overweight? You should be able to feel your cat’s ribs easily when you stroke them and clearly see a waistline when you look at them from above.

 

A clean bill of health

There are plenty of common cat illnesses to watch out for. Our report finds that 79% of cats don’t have diagnosed health issues, which is great news! For those that do, the most common issues were dental disease and obesity (both 3%), both treatable with a visit to the vet.

Regular check-ups are routine for most owners but 43% of owners miss out on them – a recommended amount is at least once a year which can be combined with vaccination. Concerned about cat health problems? Read our guide to common cat illnesses.

 The most commonly occurring health issues or concerns are dental disease (3%), obesity (3%), lower urinary tract disease (2%), overgrooming (2%) and allergic skin disease (2%).
 

Accidents and cruelty

Thankfully, 74% of cats have never been injured. However, 1 in 4 cats have sustained significant injuries, most likely caused by fights with other cats (11%) or other animals (7%). Road traffic accidents were also stated as cause of injury (3%) while 1.7% said their cat had been poisoned.

Sadly, 1.6% of owners reported injury from air guns or pellets – equating to 100k households across the UK.

 Did you know? Air guns are not licensed in England or Wales. We’re campaigning for licensing across the UK to protect cats from harm. Find out more.
 

Barriers to cat ownership

We also spoke to many non-cat owners, those that had owned a cat, or those that would like to about why they don’t have a cat currently.

  •   21% Other pets make a cat unsuitable
  •   19% Can’t afford a cat
  •   19% Others in household don’t want a cat
  •   18% Rent accommodation and aren’t allowed a cat
  •   16% Accommodation unsuitable for a cat
 

Unsuitable property

Living somewhere with minimal access to the outdoors? A cat might still be an option. Some cats need to live indoors due to health issues like FIV or sight loss, while some older or more timid cats can live indoors very successfully. All cats are different – talk your situation through with your local Cats Protection branch or centre for more guidance.

 

We need more Purrfect Landlords!

An estimated 1.6m more cats could be rehomed if ALL landlords allowed pets. 47% of potential cat owners live in rental properties where it’s common to have ‘no pets’ policies. With more people renting, cats that could be rehomed are missing out – and so are owners. Find out how to approach your landlord.

 

Allergies

Allergic to cats but want one? Allergies may not be a barrier for owning a cat. Often, people may react to some cats but not others and there are a number of ways to counteract allergic reactions. Find out more about how you can keep cat allergies at bay.

 

So what have we learned about cats?

We’ve learned just how much cats are loved and how they play a vital role in our individual and family lives and in society as a whole. They’re our constant companions, from their first morning stretch to their last goodnight purr. They brighten our days, keep us company and make us laugh.

Still, there is always more we can do to better understand our cats. With small changes that meet their needs, the relationship between cats and us gets better and better.

Every year, we’ll be building on our CATS report to ensure a better world for cats – from identifying trends, tailoring our advice or just being there for you.

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