How Many Cats Are in the World? A Statistical Overview

The state of Vermont in the US should change its motto to “Cat Lovers Only” since 45% of households there own them. And in all of America, there are oodles of millions of cats. Meowza! So, are you curious to know how many cats are in the world? We were, too, so we found out.

These stunning creatures have permeated the entire world. Some have become domesticated, some know how to survive in the wild, and some are free-roaming cats.

So let’s get familiar with the statistics on how many cats are in the world… which countries adore them and which countries don’t, and along the way, you’ll learn cat facts that will delight you.  

House cats live on every continent in the world except Antarctica. They’ve been idolized and demonized ever since the beginning of time, but one thing’s for sure – Everyone has an opinion on them. 

We wish we had a crystal ball and could know the exact number of cat populations around the world today, but we do have a range of statistics. There are 600 million to 1 billion cats living in the world today. The USA has the most number of cats, followed by China and Russia.

Latvia, Ireland, and Sweden are three countries, among many, with low numbers of household felines.

The lowest cat ownership statistic goes to Spain and Greece, coming in at 10-15% of households.

How Many Cats Are in the World

Here are some worldwide statistics about our favorite felines.

Statistics Show There Are 600 Million to 1 Billion Cats in the World (The Ecology Global Network)

Previously, the World Atlas indicated a global cat population between 300 million and 600 million. However, The Ecology Global Network currently estimates the total number of cats to be within the range of 600 million to 1 billion. 

It does depend on the source, but these are good ballpark figures. It would be impossible to calculate the true number of feral cats and strays there are in the world.

Around 100 Million Cats Are Wild (Scientific American)

These 100 million include cats like cougars, servals, leopards, and tigers. Many wild cats are threatened, decreasing in numbers, and endangered. The main reasons for these shocking facts are poaching, habitat loss, and disease. Human beings are the biggest danger to these majestic animals.

There Are 480 Million Stray Cats (Science Direct)

Feral cats are a problem to human and cat health and to the environment. However, we must also be aware there’s a difference between feral and stray cats. 

“Pet and stray cats are socialized to people… ferals are not.” – Alley Cat Allies

Stray cats are cats that escaped from home or previously had some other form of contact with humans. Ferals are born in the wild and continue to populate. To muddy things further, the term “community cats” refers to cats of the Felis catus species and includes both feral and stray cats. 

You can help control the cat population through the Trap-Neuter-Return process.

The Number of Cats Owned Worldwide Is 373 Million (Nestle)

In 2018, dogs emerged as the most popular pets, with over 470 million worldwide. Cats followed closely with around 373 million.

In the top cat-ownership countries, it’s loud and clear that a cat’s “Meows” is their favorite sound. Here are the countries with the most pet cats globally, according to World Atlas.

  • USA
  • China
  • Russia
  • Brazil
  • France

From a Total of approximately 600 Million, 400 Million Cats Reside in Asia (World Animal Protection)

The numbers have increased in the last decade, and the trend is they will continue to rise.

According to Stats for 2023, 11 Million Pet Cats Are in the UK. (PDSA)

As of 2023, the UK has 11 million pet cats, and 24% of UK adults own a cat. Ninety percent (90%) of cats in Britain have free access to the outdoors. Only a small percentage (10%) of British pet cats live indoors (some Brits consider it to be too confining), and those are mostly purebred. They’re seen more as companion animals rather than “fur babies.”

The Highest Number of Cats in the European Union (EU) Reside in Germany (FEDIAF)

Germany and France are home to the highest number of cats in the EU.

In 2022, a FEDIAF survey revealed that pet ownership is thriving in Europe, with 91 million households (46%) caring for Europe’s 340 million pets. This rise aligns with a growing market valued at 29.1 billion euros.

The Number of Stray Cats in Istanbul Is Around 200,000 (The Other Tour)

In Istanbul, around 200,000 cats have found a home, receiving care from people and communities. Residents provide food, water, and even shelter for them in colder times.

Prophet Muhammad has been said to have been a respecter of cats. Historical books about Islam mention his affection for felines. Therefore, it is considered to be disrespectful to threaten them.

There is a community network where it is agreed that street cats should be cared for by everyone, and “cat stations” (with food, water, and shelter) can be seen in public areas.