How Many Cats are There in the United States?

Caitlin Dempsey


A gray tabby cat sitting on a blue couch with a dark yellow pillow.

It is difficult to determine an exact number of cats in the United States because there are many cats that are not registered or counted in any official records.

The American Medical Veterinary Association (AMVA) does produce surveys every few years to estimate the number of pets owned by U.S households. The AMVA recently released updated pet ownership statistics for 2020.

The number of cats in the United States that are pets

The most recent AMVA survey was conducted online in 2021 in order to produce estimates of dog and cat ownership in the United States.

A black cat, a gray tabby, and an orange tabby huddled together by some gray rocks.
Cats are extremely popular as pets in the United States. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

The survey calculated that, for 2021, there were between 60,217,861 to 61,910,686 domestics cats in U.S. households. This is up from 58,385,725 estimated cats from the 2016 survey.

The number of households in the United States with a cat

With an average of 1.78 cats per household, that’s roughly 34 million households in the United States that have at least one cat as a pet.

In 2020, the U.S. Census bureau calculated that there are about 123.6 million households. The AVMA calculates that 26% of households in the United States have at least one cat.

The United States is the country with the most cats in the world

With over 60 million cats, the United States ranks number 1 for the most cats in the world. Russia is the country with the second most cats with 23.15 million cats.

How many feral and stray cats are there in the United States?

The number of feral and stray cats in the United States in unknown. There isn’t a coordinated attempt to survey feral and stray cats across the United States.

Some researchers calculates that the country has at least the same number of feral/stray cats as there are housed cats.

Stray cats at the São Jorge Castle in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.
Stray cats in a colony. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.


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

Levy, J. K., & Crawford, P. C. (2004). Humane strategies for controlling feral cat populations. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association225(9), 1354-1360.


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.