Cats and dogs are two of our most common companions, and both can be found in homes across the globe. But have you ever wondered which is more common? Reports on population sizes vary, making it hard to know for sure how many cats and dogs exist worldwide. But overall, most estimates agree that there are more dogs than cats in the world, with 700 million to 1 billion dogs worldwide and only 400 million to 700 million cats.
Figuring out how many dogs and cats exist worldwide is a big challenge. It’s practically impossible to make an accurate survey of pet owners from all across the world, so data scientists have to use the numbers they do have in order to make a good guess.
In some countries, the number is pretty certain; for example, most sources agree that the US had around 58 million cats and 76 million dogs at last count. But trying to fill in the gaps worldwide is harder. Statista estimates 471 million dogs and 373 million cats kept as pets and doesn’t have a figure that includes strays and feral pets. Other sources suggest that there’s around 600 million cats and 900 million dogs in total. Although the exact number is debated, most agree that there are more dogs than cats overall.
Although it can be tricky to take a global pet census, the biggest challenge is actually counting strays. Feral cats and dogs live all over the world and getting more than a rough estimate can be a challenge. Feral dog and cat populations around the world make up a significant chunk of the population, and most countries don’t have reliable estimates.
Cats reproduce more quickly than dogs, making it even more difficult to keep track of how many live without humans. Stray and feral populations can also vary seasonally in areas where cats and dogs can only reproduce part of the year, with annual “kitten booms” that make the number vary from season to season.
So What’s in the Future?
It’s hard to know what the future holds, but pet ownership is continuing to grow in popularity worldwide. The population of pet cats and dogs will continue to grow as well. Stray populations of cats and dogs, on the other hand, might eventually shrink. Responsible pet ownership, such as spaying, neutering, and not abandoning unwanted pets, can help curb feral populations.
Health and sanitation concerns have also made stray dogs less common in most developed countries, and it’s possible that stray dog populations will fall dramatically as developing countries grow.
Overall, figuring out the numbers of cats and dogs out there is a tricky business, but it isn’t impossible to get a good estimate. Even though numbers vary, it’s clear that there are more dogs than cats. It’s also clear that global pet populations are growing. Some of this growth comes from more pet ownership, but we can’t forget the problem of strays around the world, either. Maybe someday, we’ll have a plan that can help us keep cats and dogs off the streets and in our homes, but we haven’t reached that solution yet.
Featured Image Credit: Andrew S, Unsplash