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 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.
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.
“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,” commented Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies.
“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.”
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.
Click here for additional information about the study, including a link to the article abstract and related images.