Friday, March 18, 2011

Pet Population Statistics

The closest thing to a Census Bureau in the world of pets is the American Pet Products Association, a trade group. APPA has been conducting a household survey since 1988. The survey itself, of greatest use to member companies, is expensive. It costs members of the association $795. That figure indirectly tells us data mavens what we ought to know: it costs real money to produce goods stats. With some effort, however, I was able to find some highlights free. APPA’s home page is here; a page showing household counts and animal numbers for 2008 is available here.

APPA tells me that 62 percent of all U.S. households keep a pet; with some 117.5 million households in 2010, that would be 72.9 million households. Among the four-legged variety, cats  outnumber dogs 93.6 million to 77.5 million. The pet with the biggest share of households, however, is freshwater fish—171.5 million. Physically the largest pet also has the lowest population count: 13.3 million horses. Birds are also in relatively low numbers: 15 million.

Looking around some more (trust but verify), I also found another gatekeeper, the American Veterinary Medical Association (link). They publish U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, available here for $279 for non-members. The AVMA data are for 2006.

The Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2011 reproduces data from this AVMA report in its own Table 1240, accessible here. The table, unfortunately, as it stands, doesn’t tell us what the numbers mean. I bothered to go to the source and therefore I am able to tell you that the first line of that table, showing animal populations, is in millions. Here they are: Dogs - 72.1, Cats - 81.7, Birds - 11.2, and Horses 7.3 million. Again, that’s for 2006. So we are in the ballpark, you might say.

You’ve often wondered, haven’t you? How many wonderful dogs like Katie the Beagle are there in the United States—statistically speaking, of course. There is only one Katie! And how many Mitzis are there? (Mitzi was my Mother’s generic name for every cat she kept. That seemed a bit cavalier to me. With a family of my own, I once offered the name Total Cheese for a new kitty that we’d acquired. The family did not agree—but the name stuck anyway.) Well, you’ve wondered. We all have. As usually, LaMarotte to the rescue!
Silhouettes from Wikipedia Commons here.

1 comment:

  1. This pet project of your's may rise out of some curiousity about the predilections of pet owners: one might think that reptiles and rodents are unlikely to be chosen as pets. Perhaps. But in our own family, El Andy the Rat (Stella's pet)and Jerry the family cat have coexisted for some time now, though not always companionably, but Le Fish did not survive.

    And then there was Michelle's school-friend who had a boa for a pet and who insisted on sleeping in bed with it... that surely are curious choices.