Report: UK's cat population grows; more men adopting

UK Pet Food's new pet population report reveals a noteworthy gender difference in pet adoption demographics.

2 Lisa Selfie December 2020 Headshot
More men are adopting cats in the UK, finding them to be great companions as well as entertaining.
More men are adopting cats in the UK, finding them to be great companions as well as entertaining.
Creative Cat Studio |

Adapted from a press release.

UK Pet Food (formerly Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association) unveiled its latest Pet Population Report for 2024, which reveals a noteworthy gender difference in pet adoption demographics with more men opting to adopt adult cats.

According to the report, over the past four years, 27% of men have chosen to take on an adult cat as a pet, compared to 18% of women. This translates to 1.5 million new male households adding an adult cat, compared to around 1 million female households. For the first time since the pandemic puppy and kitten boom, UK Pet Food data notes an appreciation for mature pets across all demographics, with a total of around 2.5 million households acquiring adult cats and adult dogs have been welcomed into 2.1 million households.

“Cats have always been a popular choice of pet, but we’re particularly delighted to see that more men are seeing the benefits of older cats, as well as kittens," said Daniel Warren-Cummings, behavior officer at Cats Protection and owner of Lady Bug the cat. "Just like humans, cats are all different and this is what makes them great pets for people from all walks of life -- whether its indoor cats suited to living in a quiet home or more adventurous ones, which thrive in a busy household and love exploring the outdoors. We often hear from men who tell us their cats are not only great companions, they’re also incredibly entertaining which can be a great stress-buster.”

13.5 million dogs, 12.5 million cats in the UK

The report also confirmed emotional benefits appear to be a strong draw for pet ownership with around one quarter of owners admitting that they enjoy time with their pet more than with their family members. Over a third (39%) confirm that their pet benefits their family’s mental health, around one half of owners over 45 would be lonely without their pet and one fifth would like to see pets available on prescription.

Top Ten Pets 2024UK Pet FoodOther key findings:

  • 17.2 million households (60%) house one of the UK’s 36 million (non-aquatic) pets in 2024.
  • There are 13.5 million dogs and 12.5 million cats in the UK in 2024 - and increase of 1.5 million each.
  • 38% welcomed a new pet into 10.9 million homes over the last four years.
  • Kittens and puppies welcomed into 2.6 million and 3.7 million households respectively over recent years.  
  • Fish are also swimming up the charts in 21% of UK homes.

“This year’s findings prove again the huge popularity of pets in the UK," said Michael Bellingham, chief executive of UK Pet Food  "As the owner of an older cat, I was particularly interested to see that more men are adopting older cats. There could be all sorts of reasons for the increasing popularity of our furry and aquatic companions, but this year’s research highlights the profound therapeutic impact of pets.

"Pets play a significant role in our homes; they help combat loneliness and they can have a positive effect on our mental health," Bellingham continued. "We were pleasantly surprised to see that one fifth of those questioned are calling for pets to be available on prescription. We couldn’t agree more."

This year's Pet Population data is featured as part of the comprehensive 'Pet Data Report,' offering insights into UK population data, regional trends, market data, pet nutrition research and more. For more information, visit

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