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US Cat Population and Neuter Status

“[A]ny attempts to increase the proportion of neutered cats in the United States must include stray and feral cats.”
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2009; 234: 1023-1030, Chu K, Anderson WM, Rieser MY. Population Characteristics and Neuter Status of Cats Living in Households in the United States.  Read More »


The vast majority of cats in U.S. households are neutered, according to a new, nationally representative study. In particular, 80% of cats are neutered in U.S. households, and over 90% of them are neutered in households earning over $35,000/year. Even in households earning less than $35,000, the majority of cats are neutered.

But household cats represent only a part of the total national cat population. Scientists in the field estimate that there may be as many stray and feral cats in the United States as there are cats living in households. Various studies have also estimated that stray and feral cats produce approximately 80% of the kittens born each year. In contrast to the high neuter rate of pet cats, the most comprehensive research to date indicates that less than 3% of stray and feral cats are neutered.

The lives of all cats—pet, stray, and feral—are improved through neutering. Because virtually all pet cats are neutered, our policy attention should be turned to the stray and feral cat population.

What US Cats are Neutered?

  • 80% of pet cats 
    • 93% in homes earning $35,000
    • 51% in homes earning < $35,00
      (only 7% of the total US cat population)
  • <3% of stray and feral cats