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Cats or Dogs: Which Are More Popular in the US? (2023 Update)

Cassidy Sutton

By Cassidy Sutton

Dogs and Cats

This may upset some of you, but America is generally a dog country. Sorry cat lovers! It’s unsurprising, considering you can’t turn a corner without seeing a dog on a leash (hopefully). More than ever, pet businesses are popping up everywhere. And the pet industry has grown to be a billion-dollar industry.

But how did America come to love dogs so much? Do Americans not like cats? We’re answering these questions today with some juicy pet ownership statistics.

Keep in mind, we’re only talking about cats and dogs in this post. Fish, guinea pigs, reptiles, and other exciting pets won’t be discussed. Now, let’s find out what Americans have to say about dogs vs cats.

Dogs vs Cats: US Pet Ownership Statistics

Of the 85 million households in America, approximately 63.4 million own dogs. There are several reasons why people choose a particular pet. We can’t chalk it up to a straightforward answer, and there’s so much information we could cover. Instead, we’re keeping it simple by focusing on three major categories. Let’s break it down.

cat and dog resting together on sofa indoors
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

A Closer Look by State

Looking at pet ownership state by state is a good foundation. Of all the 50 states, Wyoming has the highest percentage of pet ownership at 72%.

The other top nine states include:
  • West Virginia (71%)
  • Nebraska (70%)
  • Vermont (70%)
  • Idaho (70%)
  • Arkansas (69%)
  • Indiana (69%)
  • Oklahoma (65%)
  • Mississippi (65%)
  • Colorado (65%)

Rhode Island has the least percentage of pet ownership at 45.4%. South Dakota, Massachusetts, Illinois, and New Jersey also drop below 50%.

A Closer Look by Region

As of 2020, more dogs are in the southern states than the Northeast Coast. So, it seems that Pennsylvania and the upper East Coast are mostly cat states. This makes sense since these states are highly populated.

The Midwest is a mix. People like to have cats and dogs in their homes. The West Coast is also a mix except for Washington and Oregon—they really like their cats.

Overall, data shows that more people across the country prefer having at least one dog in their home.

The Generational Gap

Generation is a huge contributor to pet ownership. Of all the generations, millennials and baby boomers are more likely to have pets. Millennials are even choosing pets over kids. As of 2022, 32% of all pets owned in the US have millennial pet parents. Baby boomers follow closely behind at 27%.

This information makes sense since West Virginia and Vermont, two of the highest pet ownership states, are mostly baby boomers and millennials. But these two generations seem to go back and forth with who has the most pets, so these numbers could change.

cat and dog together on the floor indoors
Image By: New Africa, Shutterstock

Why Do Americans Like Dogs More Than Cats?

People love dogs for one simple reason: dogs love unconditionally. That’s not to say that cats don’t show love. They just show it differently.

Dogs are more compliant and feel more like children than pets. Because many millennials choose pets over kids, it makes sense why many would choose an animal that acts like a child.

There are also mental health benefits to owning pets, specifically dogs. For instance, dog owners are more likely to enjoy sports activities than cat owners. In fact, 45% of dog owners say their dog improves their life through exercise. With mental health concerns on the rise, it makes sense why people need an excuse to leave the house.

But if you’re a cat owner, don’t be discouraged. Cat ownership is on the rice as much as dog ownership. Cat owners also have the upper hand with stress management. Nearly 70% of cat owners report their cat reduces their stress levels. Only 66% of dog owners could admit to this. It shows that cats and dogs have much to learn from each other.

Wrapping Up

Even though the information shows that the US is a dog country, this could change. Generations come and go, and everyone moves on to different stages of their lives. Maybe you have a dog now but realize you might not want the responsibility when you’re older. Maybe it’s the opposite.

In any case, America loves pets, plain and simple. Be it a dog or a cat, America wants to snuggle up with their fur babies at the end of the day.

Featured Image Credit: huoadg5888, Pixabay

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