Cats are man’s best friend if you strictly look at the numbers. There are 86 million owned cats compared to 78 million owned dogs. In fact, cats have been the most popular pet in America for many years.
Yet, despite their popularity, cats are sometimes treated as second-class citizens. Cats are relinquished to shelters more often than dogs. And sometimes they’re just booted outdoors to fend for themselves. A significant percent of people value cats so little that when lost, they don’t even search for them and never contact local shelters. At least five times more dogs than cats wear some sort of ID and/or are microchipped.
Here’s some more data:
- 81 percent of people believe cats are so self-sufficient that they don’t require veterinary care.
- 33 percent of indoor cat owners say their cats don’t require vet care because they are indoors only.
- Most can’t recognize subtle signs of illness in their own cats, as cats mask illness better than dogs are able to. We also tend to better understand what dogs are “saying.”
- Most cat owners don’t think cats need more veterinary care as they age.
- Cat owners are comfortable with longer periods between vet exams compared to dog owners. Most cats, as adults, never see a veterinarian for check-ups or wellness exams, but instead only visit the veterinarian if something is apparently or clearly wrong.
- It’s far easier to raise dollars for research for dog health studies than cat health studies.
Do pet owners value dogs over cats?
A new study from LendEDU, an online marketplace for private student loans, student loan refinancing and consolidation, and personal loans, researched how much dog and cat owners are willing to spend on their pets, and it doesn’t look good for the cats (or at least it is complicated).
- On average, dog owners would spend $10,725 to save their dog from a life-threatening condition, compared to cat owners, who suggest they’re willing to spend at the most only about a third of that number—$3,454—to save their cat.
- Cats fared a lot better in mixed-pet homes who have both species. People who own both a dog and a cat said they were willing to spend $10,200 to save their dog and $10,393 to save their cat. Go figure?
Does this disparity, the apparent contradiction in numbers, negate the entire study? Or does it mean something else?
Also according to LendEDU’s study, dog owners estimate they spend an average of $2,033 per year on their canine, while cat owners spend $1,042. Also, other studies confirm people spend more on dog products, including food and treats, compared to cat products.
(Additional references for this story include Winn Feline Foundation Board President Shila Nordone, PhD; CATegorical Care, authored by CATalyst Council, edited by Steve Dale; Bayer Veterinary Usage Care Studies; American Pet Products Association.)