Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Cat lovers come in all ages and from all countries, including the UK. If you’re a UK pet lover who’s ever wondered how many other cat-obsessed people inhabit your country, you’ve come to the right place!
The 10 UK Cat Statistics
- 59% of UK households own at least one pet.
- Approximately 12.2 million cats are currently being kept as pets across the UK.
- Each household owns an average of 1.5 cats.
- The majority of owned cats in the UK are mixed-breed cats.
- The most popular breed of cat in the country is the British Shorthair.
- The second most popular UK cat breed is the Ragdoll.
- A total of 24,992 purebred cats were registered in the UK in 2020.
- An estimated 250,000 stray cats are living in cities across the UK.
- Over 130,000 cats wind up in UK animal shelters each year.
- 25% of new cats acquired this year were adopted from shelters and rescues.
UK Cat Ownership
1. 59% of UK households own at least one pet.
Of these, 27% of households owned cats, only slightly less than the 33% that owned dogs. Dogs and cats are by far the most popular pets in the UK, with rabbits and indoor birds next on the list at a whopping 2% each.
2. Approximately 12.2 million cats are currently being kept as pets across the UK.
The methodology of the survey used to find this data changed due to the pandemic so it’s hard to compare these numbers to those of previous years. However, 12.2 million is a higher number of pet cats than has previously been recorded by this study. After cats, the next highest pet population of rabbits and indoor birds clocks in at about 1 million each.
3. Each household owns an average of 1.5 cats.
Based on this stat, it’s clear that many UK cat owners aren’t satisfied with just one feline companion! Having more than one cat adds to the cost of cat ownership but can also be positive for both the cats and their owners.
UK Cat Breeds
4. The majority of owned cats in the UK are mixed-breed cats.
65% of UK cat owners report owning mixed-breed cats. While this is still a majority, there also seems to be a trend towards owning purebred cats, with only about 51% of the newly adopted or purchased cats being mixed breeds in the past year.
5. The most popular breed of cat in the country is the British Shorthair.
9,111 British Shorthairs were registered with the Governing Council Of The Cat Fancy (GCCF) in 2020. This represents a 19% increase over the number registered in 2019. British Shorthairs have been the most popular purebred cat in the UK for at least the past 10 years, according to the GCCF registrations.
6. The second most popular UK cat breed is the Ragdoll.
4, 397 Ragdoll cats were registered in 2020, a 24% increase from the year before. This ranking is also consistent going back at least 10 years. UK cat lovers clearly know which purebred cats are their favorites! The Maine Coon, Siamese, and Burmese round out the top 5.
7. A total of 24,992 purebred cats were registered in the UK in 2020.
The GCCF recognizes a total of 40 different cat breeds. Overall, 3, 520 more purebred cats were registered in 2020 than in 2019.
UK Homeless Cat Statistics
8. About 250,000 stray cats are living in cities across the UK.
A study published in October 2021 estimated the number of stray cats living in UK cities at 247, 429. This count focused only on urban areas, meaning there are likely many more stray cats in rural areas uncounted. The researchers theorize that the numbers might have been pushed higher last year by the difficulty in getting pet cats spayed and neutered due to pandemic-related veterinary closures.
9. Over 130,000 cats wind up in UK animal shelters each year.
Homelessness in cats is a worldwide problem and the UK is no different. Spaying and neutering remain the best way to help control the cat population.
10. 25% of new cats acquired this year were adopted from shelters and rescues.
Counting the 19% of cats adopted from friends or family and the 7% found as strays, UK cat lovers did their part to make a dent in the number of homeless pets in 2021.
Frequently Asked Questions
Has the pandemic impacted the number of cats owned in the UK?
Much like other countries, such as the US, the number of people who bought or adopted a cat in the UK increased during the pandemic and stay-at-home times. Based on internet search trends, interest in pet adoption worldwide peaked in March and April 2020, up 250% based on the same period in 2019.
Of the countries studied, the UK had the 5th highest interest in cat adoptions. Interestingly, while interest in dog adoption has decreased since the peak, interest in cat adoption has stayed consistently high. (Frontiers)
Have more cats been given up to shelters during the pandemic?
While there’s not much in the way of hard data to support this, shelter and rescue groups do say they’ve noticed an increase. The data is more complete for dogs, who’re being abandoned in larger numbers. It’s suspected that most of the cats are being given up for financial reasons, while the dogs are probably falling victim to owners who didn’t do their research before choosing their “pandemic puppy.” (Guardian)
Has cat veterinary care been impacted by the pandemic?
Official surveys have found consistently decreased numbers of available veterinary consultations during periods of lockdown in the UK since early 2020. Compared to dogs, cats were taken to the vet less frequently during this time.
We talked earlier about how the increase in the number of spayed and neutered cats was contributing to the stray cat population in the UK. This development is directly related to the availability of veterinary care during the pandemic. Financial issues, also related to the pandemic, could also be playing a role in this decline in seeking veterinary care. (University of Liverpool)
What are some common health issues seen in UK cats?
According to the RSPCA, the most commonly occurring health issue seen in the cats of the UK is dental disease, which impacted 15.1% of cats in their study. The rest of the top 5 problems seen were trauma, skin problems, digestive problems, and parasite infestation. (RSPCA)
I heard two cats in the UK caught COVID-19. Is this true?
Yes, unfortunately, this is true. Cats are believed to be the animals most likely to catch COVID-19 and pass it to other cats. The two UK cats who were infected are thought to have caught the disease from infected humans.
Although there’s no evidence that cats (or other animals) can pass COVID-19 to humans, concern for this possibility may also play a role in the number of cats being abandoned during the pandemic. (WebMD)
With the benefits of cat ownership well known both scientifically and anecdotally, the UK’s cat lovers are firm believers in this phenomenon. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning some more facts and statistics about cats in the UK. If you don’t yet have a cat but are considering it, please remember to do your research first and make sure you’re prepared for the responsibility of owning a pet. You don’t want you or your cat to end up one of these statistics!
Featured Image Credit: rock-the-stock, Shutterstock