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Press Release

For Immediate Release: May 27, 2009
Contact: ELIZABETH PAROWSKI, or 240-482-1984; FRANCIE ISRAELI, or 202-207-1134


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

BETHESDA — 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%.

The peer-reviewed study, based on data collected for 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.

“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 lowerincome
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.

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


About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the nation’s leading advocate for stray and feral cats. Their website is