Stray Cats in the USA: How Many Are They?

The sight of a stray cat may evoke many responses from people. Some may feel their heartstrings tug as they experience a longing to help the cat. Yet others may be alarmed by problems the cat is causing, whether that be fighting, threatening other pets, passing on fleas, spraying others, or other issues. You may wish you could help but feel uncertain of what to do. In these instances, many people walk by these helpless, unfortunate animals without knowing how to help (or perhaps a lack of desire to help).

The Hidden Costs of Stray Cats

Approximately sixty percent of households in the United States have some pet. Out of the sixty percent of United States houses that are home to pets, about 85 million of these animals are cats. Another third of the 85 million household cats are felines that have been housed or re-homed as stray or feral cats.

On the other hand, feral cats that live in the wild or have been abandoned are estimated to be about seventy million in the United States alone. Why don’t more people adopt cats? There are several reasons that a feline friend may not be the best option for a family.

Lonely stray cat outdoors

One reason is cost alone. When you think that owning a cat can cost $600 to $900 per year on average, it is no wonder that some families cannot afford to house an animal. Some may not consider that figure exceptionally high, but it can add up quickly when large families or low-income families are considered. If an animal cannot be fed or cared for well, it may become a neglected or abandoned stray.

Many people do not know how much money is spent by taxpayers to try and impact the stray problem. Animal control companies and agencies are funded in large part by taxpayer money. These companies get to work when a cat is left alone or neglected or turns into a stray. On average, 50 million dollars per year is spent by these companies. Comparing this to the $900 or less it costs to keep a cat during the year, you can quickly see that owning a cat is much cheaper for everyone in the long run. It is also wise to find a feline a new home in some instances.

Tips for Limiting Stray Cats

You can also spay or neuter your animal to help curb the overpopulation of feral and stray cats. The number of stray cats continues to rise and can be reduced with a few mindful steps. Whether it is your pet or not, a few steps can be taken to help the problem.

Two beautiful homeless cats on street
Two beautiful homeless cats on street
  • Spay or neuter your kittens

    At the start, this may be an expensive cost, but it is a one-time investment and will help in the long run. As time progresses, you will not have to worry about surprise kittens. Statistics have shown that only about 10 percent of cats in shelters have been spayed or neutered.

  • Identify your cat

    Providing your cat with identification via microchipping or a collar makes it easier to return to its owners. The majority of stray cats are those who have become lost, often by wandering off.

  • Allow animal control agencies to help

    When you see a stray cat or an abandoned litter of kittens, please call animal control. One simple phone call to the agency can allow these strays to be rescued, taken to a nice shelter, and prepared to go to a loving home where they can receive care and love.

What Are Feral Cats?

Another category of cats roaming the United States of America is feral cats. Although sometimes used interchangeably, stray cats and feral cats are not the same. For the sake of clarity, here are the definitions. A stray cat is a cat that has run away or been otherwise abandoned by its owner. On the other hand, a feral cat is a wild offspring created by these stray cats.

To paint a clearer picture with numbers, imagine two stray cats meeting and starting breeding. If they can have two litters of kittens each year and breed for seven years, they may create an extremely high figure when looking at all the strays in the US. True, many of these feral kittens will not live beyond a few weeks due to various circumstances, but that is still a vast number!

Although there is no concrete way to determine the number of stray cats in the United States, we can get close with statistics and estimations. These numbers have shown that the number of stray cats in the US could be as high as 70 million. Truly, many of these cats could be re-homed considering that they are not vicious or aggressive with people (usually).

Stray cats will scratch and dig, urinate, and leave droppings in the areas they inhabit. If you see a stray, you want first to call animal control because they may be carrying a type of disease that can be transmitted to humans. This could include rabies, ringworm, toxoplasmosis, cat scratch fever, allergies, feline leukemia, feline distemper, or other secondary bacterial infections.

Stray cats on the streets

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