How Many Domestic Cats are There in the World?

Caitlin Dempsey


A choropleth map with blue shading gradient showing the number of cats per European country.

The domestic cat, scientifically known as Felis catus or Felis silvestris catus, is one of the most beloved pets across the globe.

Cats were domesticated around 10,000 years ago from the African wildcat. From ancient Egypt, where some of the earliest records exist of cats coexisting with humans, to modern households, cats have woven themselves into human culture and history.

A favored companion over the centuries by sailers looking for rodent control, cats have been introduced to every continent in the world except for Antarctica.

Worldwide estimates of how many cats there are

An accurate global estimate of how many domestic cats there are is challenging. A lack of record keeping and a difficulty in surveying feral and stray colonies are two of the main reasons for this. There have, however, been attempts over the years to try and calculate the global domestic cat population.

Rough estimates put the number of domestic cats in the entire world between 600 and 750 million. Since different surveys use different methods to estimate cat populations, the number of cats can range widely from survey to survey. Of that number over two-thirds (480 million) are estimated to be stray cats by the International Aid for the Protection & Welfare of Animals (IAPWA).

Which countries have the highest cat populations?

Countries with a strong tradition of pet ownership like the United States, Japan, and many European nations often have higher numbers of domestic cats than other countries in the world.

The United States is generally regarded as the country with the highest number of cats. Every few years, the American Medical Veterinary Association (AMVA) surveys households in order to estimate the number of pets in the United States.

The AMVA survey estimated that the number of domestic cats in U.S. households for 2021 ranged from 60,217,861 to 61,910,686. This figure marks an increase from the 58,385,725 cats that were estimated in the 2016 survey.

According to a 2017 survey by Dalia Research (now PureSpectrum), Russia has the highest percentage of cat owners with 59% of the population owning a cat in that country.

How many cats are there in Europe?

Cats are the most popular pet in Europe according to the European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) which surveys members. The organization estimated that in 2022, 127 million cats were kept as pets in Europe. The FEDIAF also estimates that 26% of households in Europe own a cat.

Russia is country in Europe with the highest number of cats. The FEDIAF estimates that 23.15 million cats live in Russia. Germany is the country in the European Union with the highest number of cats with 15.2 million. France isn’t too far behind with 14.9 million cats living in that country. Iceland, of the countries with cat estimates, has the smallest population of cats with just 20,000.

A choropleth map with blue shading gradient showing the number of cats per European country.
Number of domestic cats by European country. Map: Caitlin Dempsey.

Number of cats in Japan

Since 2017, cats are more popular pets than dogs in Japan. Known for its cat cafes, Japan in 2020 had 9.6 million cats as pets according to the Japan Pet Food Association (JPFA).

Cat population data sources

American Veterinary Medical Association. (2022). U.S. pet ownership & demographics sourcebook. Amer Veterinary Medical Assn.

Baba, Y. (2020, February 3). Pet Food Market in Japan. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

Cat and dog population statistics. (2023, April 18). Cooper Pet Care.

European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF). (2023, June). Annual report 2023. FEDIAF.

Historical pet data. (2022). UK Pet Food | Pet Food Industry Association.

Sansone, K. (2019, August 14). Malta, a nation of pet lovers.

Stray cats in Cyprus: The issue one cannot neglect. (2023, January 16). Cyprus Mail.

Worldwide cat populations cited in: Dauphiné, N. I. C. O., & Cooper, R. J. (2009, October). Impacts of free-ranging domestic cats (Felis catus) on birds in the United States: a review of recent research with conservation and management recommendations. In Proceedings of the fourth international partners in flight conference: tundra to tropics (Vol. 205).

Related cat population articles

Share this article:

Photo of author
About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey holds both a master's in Geography from UCLA and a Master of Library and Information Science. She is the editor of and an avid researcher of geography and feline topics. A lifelong cat owner, Caitlin currently has three rescued cats: an orange tabby, a gray tabby, and a black cat.