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Looking for a cat statistic? Our CATS report summary shows statistics at a glance

If you're looking for cat statistics on everything from cat ownership to how cats improve our wellbeing, here's our CATS (Cats and their Stats) report at a glance.

Our methodology

  • We spoke to over 10,000 people for the CATS 2021 survey
  • The survey was carried out between 8 March 2021 and 12 April 2021


Read the full CATS report

Cat population

  • There are around 10.8 million owned cats in the UK in 2021, which is an increase of 600,000 from 2020
  • The pandemic contributed to this increase in ownership with 7% of owners saying they got a cat for a reason directly linked to the pandemic such as being furloughed or generally spending more time at home, which equates to approximately 0.8m cats
  • 6 million owned cats are female and 5.2 million owned cats are male
  • According to owners, 65% of cats are moggies, 23% are pedigrees, 5% are cross-breeds. For the remaining 7%, the owners were not sure of their cat’s breed
  • 74% of cats obtained more than five years ago were moggies, compared to 51% in the last 12 monthsOver time, the percentage of cats that owners are obtaining and believe to be pedigrees has increased:
  • 16% of cats obtained more than five years ago being considered pedigrees compared to 36% of cats obtained in the last 12 months
  • Just over one in four UK households (26%) own a cat
  • Each cat-owning household has an average of 1.5 cats

The cat market

  • Owned cats are generally bought (28%), adopted from a UK rescue (25%) or have been taken on from a neighbour, family member or friend (19%)
  • Of cats obtained in the last 12 months, 34% of cats were bought and 19% adopted from UK rescues – for cats obtained over five years ago, just 24% were bought and 27% adopted from UK rescues
  • An estimated 70,000 pet cats have been brought to the UK from overseas in the last 12 months (either through adoption from an overseas charity or from a specialist breeder overseas)
  • This represents 5% of all cats obtained in the last 12 months – for those cats obtained over a year ago, just 1% came from overseas
  • Just over half of all purchased cats were found online (52%), but this seems to be increasing – for those purchased in the last 12 months 68% were found online
  • For cats purchased in the last year, 21% were found on Facebook – equating to an estimated 90,000 cats and kittens

Neutering and microchipping

  • 86% of all owned cats (around 9.3 million) are neutered
  • We estimate that 12% of all owned cats (around 1.3 million) are not neutered. The remaining 2% answered ‘don’t know’
  • Cats Protection recommends that cats should be neutered from four months of age, which is when they reach puberty
  • Encouragingly, the number of cats neutered under four months of age rose from 22% in 2020 to 24% in 2021, a welcome increase in the uptake of pre-pubertal neutering by the veterinary profession
  • An estimated 7.6 million owned cats are microchipped (70%) and 2.8 million cats are not microchipped (26%). Owners of the remaining 400,000 (4%) cats were unsure if their cat was microchipped
  • 91% of owners of microchipped cats told us the contact details registered to the chip were up to date

Health and diet

  • 79% of owners say their cats don’t have any specific diagnosed conditions. 18% of owners say their cat has at least one health condition. Dental disease is the most prominent condition (3%) followed by a number of conditions including obesity, arthritis and hyperthyroidism (2% each)
  • 89% of owned cats are registered with a vet. Whereas 55% of owners say they go for a routine visit to the vet every year, this fell to 47% during the pandemic, meaning approximately 5 million cats are not routinely visiting the vet
  • 43% of cat owners have taken out pet insurance, compared to 40% in 2020. The rise has been driven by many more cat owners in the 18-34 age group taking out insurance
  • 69% of owners say their cat is up to date with their vaccinations compared to 72% in 2020, which may be linked to the limited access to veterinary practices during the pandemic
  • 31% of owners think their cats are overweight, while vets think that around 44% of cats are overweight

The role that cats play in our lives

  • The top reasons people gave for adopting cats were to provide companionship, to reduce stress and to reduce loneliness (51%). These reasons were especially popular in the 18-34 age group (55%)
  • 62% of owners say their cat gives them something to get up for in the morning
  • 87% of owners regularly talk to their cat
  • 64% of owners play games with their cat each day
  • 58% of owners say they put their cats’ needs before their own

Threats to the safety of cats

  • Just 47% of cat owners are aware that lilies are toxic to cats
  • Over one in four cats (27%) have sustained significant injuries or accidents. 11% of these were fights with other cats not part of the household and 7% from other animals. Road traffic accidents were stated as cause of injury for 4%
  • 63% of owners say their cat is adversely affected by fireworks in some way, including hiding, running away or increased jumpiness

Rental issues

  • It is estimated that 1 million households across the UK would like to have a cat, but can’t because they are in a rental property
  • Based on the average number of cats per household, this means there are 1.6 million cats that could be given homes if all landlords allowed pets

Facts and figures about Cats Protection

For more information about Cats Protection as an organisation and how many cats we have helped, visit our media centre.

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