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CATS: Most pet cats neutered & most stray/feral cats aren’t. We got a problem

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, May 28th, 2009 at 7:42 am in Cats.


New Study Shows Majority of Pet Cats Are Neutered

Peer-reviewed analysis finds significant relationship between neuter and household income

BETHESDA, Md., May 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A new study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association reports that the vast majority — at least 80% — of pet cats in U.S. households are neutered, with middle-to higher-income households reporting rates of over 90%.

Feral cat by Alley Cat Allies

The peer-reviewed study, based on data collected for the national nonprofit organization Alley Cat Allies by Harris Interactive, and analyzed by Alley Cat Allies using a rigorous statistical approach, is the first nationally representative study to thoroughly examine household income as it relates to the neuter status of pet cats.

This study indicates that spaying and neutering is an accepted, established practice among the large majority of Americans with pet cats,” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. “This is a very positive finding. As a result, our nation’s pet cats are living much healthier lives.”

The study found that family income was the strongest predictor of whether house cats are neutered. In households earning $35,000 or more annually, 93% of cats were neutered, compared to 51% of cats in households earning less than $35,000.

While both income groups reported a majority of their pet cats to be neutered, the disparity underscores a challenge long observed by Alley Cat Allies, said Robinson.

Feral cat by Alley Cat Allies

“Up until now, there has been a lot of speculation that income is a barrier for neuter in lower-income families, but now we have a scientific study establishing that this is the case nationally,” Robinson said.

“It is also critical to point out that household cats represent only part of the total U.S. cat population,” said Wendy Anderson, director of law and policy for Alley Cat Allies and a co-author of the study.

“Previous research has shown there may be just as many stray and feral cats in the U.S. as pet cats, and most of these cats are intact and breeding. We need to enact smart policies and programs that expand the availability of low-cost, high-volume spay and neuter services, not only to serve lower-income pet owners, but to provide services for feral cats as well,” Anderson said.

The study (“Population Characteristics and Neuter Status of Cats Living in Households in the United States,” J Am Vet Med Assoc 2009; 234:1023-1030) consisted of 1,205 respondents across the continental U.S., contacted by telephone and selected via random-digit dial methodology. Following completion of the data collection, respondents were weighted for region, age, gender, education, income, race and ethnicity to ensure a sample representative of the U.S. population.

Based on the nationally representative sample, the study concluded that there are approximately 82.4 million pet cats in the United States, living in a total of 36.8 million households. One third of these households reported adopting at least one of their cats as a stray.

Feral cat by Alley Cat Allies

Additional information about the study, including a link to the article abstract and related images, can be found at

Alley Cat Allies is dedicated to ending the killing of cats and leading the movement for their humane care. Their web site is

The study concludes there are approx. 82.4 million PET CATS in the U.S. … and that “there may be just as many STRAY AND FERAL CATS in the U.S. as pet cats … ,“ meaning ANOTHER 82.4 MILLION cats.

Oh, yeah, and most of these stray and feral cats are still intact and breeding. So which of these cat populations — pet … or stray and feral — is growing the fastest?

Think about it. /Gary

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7 Responses to “CATS: Most pet cats neutered & most stray/feral cats aren’t. We got a problem”

  1. BirdAdvocate Says:

    I have been predicting for several years the feral pet population outdoors would reach a saturation point so overwhelming the vast majority of voters would begin demanding they be controlled by all expedient means available.
    Expedient means, of course, would exclude the “compassionate, humane, and non-lethal” practice of TNR which only removes a tiny fraction of those pet species for an overnight stay at the Vets then re-abandons them for the rest of their claimed seven year life span.
    Most of our city and county governments have been influenced by a conspiracy of cat enablers to ignore our wildlife protection laws for the last twenty years or so, so this could be interesting.

  2. Gary Bogue Says:

    BirdAdvocate: Film at 11:00, as they say … /Gary

  3. BirdAdvocate Says:

    An article by a fledgling TNR advocate caught my interest recently when she remarked she’d had to maneuver to avoid a dozen or so cats lounging around a parking lot while attending a meeting.
    She investigated and found there were piles of food and water around the area from people who fed them but none of the pets had been spayed and neutered. This inspired her to initiate a TNR project.
    While better than doing nothing I wonder if she ever considers how other visitors to the area view having to avoid the newly spayed-neutered cats again lounging around the parking lot or their excrement? Nowhere in the article was the impact of the feral pets on the fauna of the area mentioned, of course.

  4. Charlotte Says:

    Dear Bird Advocate,

    “A conspiracy of cat enablers….” ??????

    You think there is a CONSPIRACY of cat enablers out there? You must look for UFOs at night, too.

    Have you spent quality time with a cat? Obviously not.

  5. Frank Says:

    “cat enablers”


  6. BirdAdvocate Says:

    Charlotte Says:
    ‘Dear Bird Advocate,
    A conspiracy of cat enablers….” ??????
    You think there is a CONSPIRACY of cat enablers out there? You must look for UFOs at night, too.’

    No, I don’t search for UFOs, though I have heard some eye-witness accounts. Tell me realistically the cat organizations don’t work like a conspiracy. They manufacture and disseminate disinformation, otherwise known as myths, and have common goals.

    “Have you spent quality time with a cat? Obviously not.”

    You assume far too much. I tamed the last feral cat that intruded into my house and found indoor homes for her and her kittens.

  7. BirdAdvocate Says:

    ‘Frank Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    “cat enablers”


    Thank you, Frank, for your enlightened and compassionate attitude toward the disadvantaged.

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