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Read the Cats and Their Stats (CATS) UK annual report

Welcome to CATS – the most comprehensive survey of cat owners in the UK. Packed with cat statistics, this year’s survey saw many owners continue to feel the effects of the rising cost of living.

Our report provides insight into how cats and their owners have fared during this period.

Here’s a summary of what we found. You can read a number of cat statistics in our full report as well as reports from the devolved nations.

Read the full report Read the reports from the devolved nations

Cat population and ownership

  • There are around 11 million owned cats in the UK, the same number as in 2022
  • Just over one in four households (26%) own a cat
  • The percentage of pedigree cats obtained has increased over time: 42% of cats obtained in the last 12 months were pedigree or purebred compared with 17% more than five years ago
  • The average number of cats per household is 1.5 cats, with 67% of cat-owning households having one cat, and 33% owning two or more cats
  • A higher proportion of 25 to 34-year-olds own a cat (34%). Compared to this, only 11% of people over the age of 65 are likely to own a cat
  • 14% of cat owners are first timers, with a higher proportion living in central urban areas (18%) and specifically Greater London (20%)
  • First-time owners are less likely to have a moggy (51%) compared to owners who have had a cat since childhood (68%)
  • 43% of cat owners are male and 57% of cat owners are female

Where are owners getting their cats from?

  • Cats tend to be bought (32%), adopted from a UK rehoming charity (24%) or have been taken on from a neighbour, family member or friend (17%)
  • Overall, 63% of cats purchased were found online, up from 61% in 2022. However, those buying from Facebook has decreased to 19% (down from 24% in 2022)

Find out more about getting a cat or kitten.

Neutering, breeding and microchipping

  • 85% of cats (9.4 million) are neutered while 13% of cats are not neutered. The top reason for not neutering is that the cat does not go outside (21%)
  • The number of people who say they have not had their cat neutered because of the cost has increased to 15% (from 10% in 2022). Cats Protection offers a low-cost neutering scheme for eligible owners
  • An estimated 8 million cats are microchipped (73%) while 3 million (27%) are potentially not microchipped. Top reasons for not being microchipped are that the cat doesn’t go outside (27%), the cat doesn’t stray or go far (18%), and the owners hadn’t thought about it (14%)
  • 92% of cat owners that have microchipped their cat say that their contact details are up to date

Find out more about neutering and microchipping.

Cat health

  • 10% of owned cats are not registered with a vet, approximately 1.1 million cats
  • 61% of cats go to the vet every year for a routine visit
  • The top reason for not taking their cat to the vet is the cost for owners (28%, up from 24% in 2022)
  • Over three quarters of owners (77%) say that their cat has no diagnosed health conditions
  • 49% of all owners have insured their cat
  • 72% of owners say their cat is up to date with vaccinations, up from 71% in 2022. However, around 3.1 million cats are not protected against diseases preventable by vaccination
  • 32% of owners identify their cat as overweight, while 27% think their cat is an ideal weight and 37% worry that their cat is underweight
  • More people are turning to the internet for advice about their cat, with 52% using a search engine (up from 49% in 2022) and 19% searching social media (up from 16% in 2022)

Find out more about looking after your cat’s health.

The role that cats play in our lives

  • Companionship, reducing loneliness and reducing stress were collectively the top reasons for owning a cat (55%) for the fourth consecutive year (up from 51% in 2022)
  • 21% of owners said the main reason for having a cat in their life is to help them feel less stressed
  • 73% of owners say having a cat brings them joy
  • 92% of owners consider their cat part of the family
  • 90% of owners spend time stroking their cat or sitting together every day, with 72% regularly talking to their cat
  • 45% of cat owners say their cat gives them something to get up for in the morning, with this statistic being higher for 18 to 34-year-old and female owners, both at 50%
  • Almost a quarter (23%) of those who don’t own a cat say it’s because they couldn’t go through the pain of loss again

Safety of cats

  • 28% of cat owners said that their cat had been injured in the time that they had owned them – 24% of injuries were sustained during fights with other cats or animals and 12% were with cats from another household
  • 3% of injuries were due to a road traffic accident (down from 5% in 2022)
  • Of the cat owners who have seen their cat experience fireworks, 64% say that their cat is adversely affected by them, including hiding (25%) or trying to escape/run away (14%)

Find out more about keeping your cat safe.

Cost-of-living concerns

  • 34% of owners say that they have been significantly and negatively impacted by the rise in living costs
  • 13% of people who used to own a cat but no longer do say that it’s because they can’t afford it
  • 14% said that they worried about how they will meet their cat’s needs in the future and 7% said that they have had to reduce their spending on necessities such as cat food and litter in the last 12 months, an increase from 5% in 2022
  • 3% of cat owners have had to rely on food banks to feed their cat
  • Between January and May 2023, relinquishment of cats for financial reasons was up 48% compared to the same period in 2022

Find out more about how to look after your cat during the cost-of-living crisis.

Where do we go from here?

With owners facing significant changes and challenges over the past few years, the CATS Report allows us a unique insight into cat ownership within the UK. Using this information, we can work to provide the right support and advice to those who need it.

An increase in the overall number of cats does present some challenges. An increased demand for veterinary services puts pressure on veterinary practices, and many of the owners surveyed have started to feel the pinch of the rising cost of living.

As the UK’s largest cat welfare charity Cats Protection is well placed to deliver the support that’s needed. We continue to invest in our neutering programme, have successfully campaigned for compulsory pet cat microchipping and are delivering targeted support to owners.

One of the consistent findings of the CATS Report is that more cats are being purchased and fewer cats being adopted. These market changes may also be fuelling issues that have a detrimental impact on cat welfare such as kitten smuggling and poor breeding practices. Our work to speak up for cats and ensure they are provided adequate protections in regulation will continue to be critical.

Cats Protection’s vision is a society where every cat has their best possible life because they are protected, cared for and understood by everyone. The findings of the CATS Report and other research conducted by Cats Protection enables an improved understanding, so that we can make our vision a reality.

Read the full report
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