A new study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association reports that
the vast majority - at least 80 percent - of pet cats in U.S. households are neutered, with middle-to
higher-income households reporting rates of over 90 percent.
The study - based on data collected for feral cat advocacy group Alley Cat Allies - is the first study to examine household income as it relates to the neuter status of the estimated 82 million pet cats in the nation.
"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 percent of cats were neutered, compared to 51 percent of cats in households earning less than $35,000.
Robinson said the study results show that greater effort needs to be placed on providing affordable spay/neuter services for low income pet owners and providing greater spay/neuter services to feral cat populations.
"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.
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.