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AVMA Survey Confirms Cat's Status as Top Dog

Cats still rule the roost as America’s number-one pet, but dogs rule more roosts overall, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s latest national survey on pet ownership. Results of the recent survey—the first since 1996—appeared in the Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association (Vol. 221, No. 11).

Researchers analyzed surveys completed by more than 54,000 individuals (out of 80,000 U.S. households selected randomly) to investigate pet ownership trends. The survey polled respondents on companion animals living in their households during 2001, including dogs, cats, pet birds, horses, fish, ferrets, and rabbits. Pet owners could also volunteer data on small mammals or exotic species, such as guinea pigs, snakes, and hamsters.

Half of all U.S. households own dogs, cats, or both, according to the survey results. And while dogs were found in 36.1 percent of those households and cats were found in only 31.6 percent, cats still took their place as the most popular pet species. About 69 million of them were present in American homes, compared with only 62 million dogs.

The following are among the AVMA’s other findings:

  • 58.3 percent of households owned at least one pet during 2001. 56.1 percent owned a pet on December 31, 2001.
  • Dog and cat populations increased significantly from 1996 to 2001: dogs by 16.5 percent and cats by 16.6 percent.
  • Multiple-pet ownership is common; in fact, the majority of pet-owning households (60 percent) had more than one pet.
  • Exotic pet ownership declined after 1996, except for ownership of ferrets and turtles. Ferret ownership increased by one quarter, although less than one percent of households have one or more ferrets.
  • Popular “specialty and exotic pets” were fish (6.1 percent ownership rate) and rabbits (1.7 percent).
  • Pet livestock numbers decreased greatly from 1996 to 2001, by 52 percent (from 6 million to 2.9 million). Population numbers also decreased for hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, snakes, lizards, and other reptiles.
AVMA Household Pet Survey
Percentage of households owning cats 31.6%
Percentage of households owning dogs 36.1%
Number of owned cats 69 million
Number of owned dogs 62 million
Source: American Veterinary Medical Association’s U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, 2002.


APPMA National Pet Owners Survey
Percentage of households owning cats 34%
Percentage of households owning dogs 39%
Number of owned cats 73 million
Number of owned dogs 68 million
Source: American Pet Products Manufacturers Association National Pet Owners Survey 2001-2002.


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