MSPCA Dorr Research

Dog and Cat Populations in Massachusetts

Research conducted in November 2011, October 2006, October 2001, October 1996, and October 1991 by the MSPCA and Dorr Research Corp. In 2011, 1,716 households were contacted (margin of error = +/- 2.4%), and 602 surveys were completed (margin of error = +/- 4.1%).

Populations

35.1 % of households own a dog and/or cat (33% in 2006, 30.7% in 2001, 31.4% in 1996 and 36.0% in 1991.)

18.1% of hh own a cat (19% in 2006, 18.5% in 2001, 20.2% in 1996, 22% in 1991)

22.4% of hh own a dog (20% in 2006, 17.1% in 2001, 16.5% in 1996, 21% in 1991)

There are 1.6 cats per cat-owning hh (1.6 in 2006, 1.6 in 2001, 1.8 in 1996 and 1.6 in 1991)

There are 1.3 dogs per dog-owning hh (1.3 in 2006, 1.2 in 2001, same in 1996 and 1991)

738,000 owned cats in 2011 (744,000 in 2006; 723,000 in 2001; 817,000 in 1996 and 791,000 in 1991)

742,000 owned dogs in 2011 (639,000 in 2006; 502,000 in 2001; 444,000 in 1996 and 566,000 in 1991)

Annual Births

4% of owned adult female cats (including those that are sterilized) have had at least one litter.  

5% of owned adult female dogs have had at least one litter.

Acquisitions

Since 1996, there has been a significant increase in shelters serving as a source for acquiring a cat, although this dropped to 28% in 2011 from the peak in 2006: (31% in 2006, 23% in 2001, 17% in 1996). Dogs obtained from shelters is about the same: 24% in 2011 (23% in 2006, 24% in 2001, 16% in 1996).

Two months is the median age of a cat at acquisition (compared with 6 months in 2006 and 2 months in 2001). In addition to shelters (28%), other significant sources of cats are those received from an acquaintance (34%) and strays (18%).

Three months is the median age of a dog at acquisition (compared with 5 months in 2006 and 2 months in 2001). Private breeders are the primary source for dogs (35%), along with shelters (25%) and those received from an acquaintance (16%).

Sterilization

Sterilization rate of owned dogs - 84% (87% in 2006, 89% in 2001, 77% in 1996)

Sterilization rate of owned cats - 94% (94% in 2006, 89% in 2001, 1996, and 1991)

The two most cited reasons for not having their cat sterilized is the desire to breed their cat and reasoned that their cat would always be indoors. This has changed from prior studies citing that their cat was thought to be too young and the cost of spay/neuter surgery.

Dog owners cited the same two reasons as cat owners.

Other findings

Cat / Dog-ownership Profiles and Trend Diagnostics

Compared with Massachusetts Census figures, owners of both cats and dogs are heavily skewed toward relatively larger households with children living in owner-occupied homes enjoying higher-than-average income:

 Census

Own Cats 

 Own Dogs

 Mass.

 Mean people per household

  2.7

 3.1

 2.5 (in 2010)

Presence of child(ren) under age 18 

 39%

 46%

 28% (in 2010)

 Own home   

77% 

 86%

 72% (in 2010)

 Median household income

 $53,500       

 $74,500         

  $62,100 (in 2010)

Single people continue to represent about one-quarter of cat owners, but comprise only 8% of dog owners.

Median duration of ownership:

For cats:

6.0 years if purchased from a store

5.9 years if obtained free from an acquaintance

5.7 years if obtained from own litter

5.5 years if obtained from a shelter

5.4 years if obtained as a stray

2.8 years if purchased from a breeder

 

For dogs:

6.7 years if purchased from a store

6.0 years if obtained as a stray

5.6 years if obtained from a shelter

5.5 years if obtained from a breeder

5.0 years if obtained free from an acquaintance

3.5 years if obtained from own litter
 
Declawing:
14% of owned cats are declawed (17% in 2006).

 

Summary of Apparent Factors in Pet Population Increases

The populations of owned dogs inMassachusettshave undergone a significant increase during the past five years, rising from 639,000 in 2006 to 742,000 in 2011. Dog ownership in MA households has increased from 17% to 22% in the past 10 years, although is about the same as in 1991 (21%).

The populations of owned cats inMassachusettshave undergone a slight decrease from 744,000 in 2006 to 738,000 in 2011. Cat ownership in MA households has decreased slowly from a high of 22% in 1991 to the current 18%.

Substantial increases in prime pet-owning population segments:

  • The median ages of both cat and dog owners have increased by approximately 8 years since 1991. Most notably, the 65+ age group now comprises 46% of cat owners and 41% of dog owners – both significantly higher than the corresponding 26% represented by that age group in theMassachusettspopulation.
  • Cat-owning households have significantly lower incomes than dog-owning households. Only 53% of cat-owning households earn $50,000+, compared with 69% of dog-owning households.
  • Presence of children is significantly higher in cat-owning households (39%) and dog-owning households (46%) than among the general population (28%).
  • Single-person housing units comprise 28% of theMassachusettshouseholds but account for a significantly lower 8% of the owned cats and 7% of the owned dogs.
  • Growth of cat/dog ownership has been most pronounced among owners 65+, households in rural communities, and households with children.