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Pdsa Paw Survey 2019 Shares A Fascinating Snapshot Of Cat Ownership In The Uk

The PDSA is the UK’s dedicated veterinary charity, and every year they care for and provide assistance to the owners of thousands of pets all over the country, with cats, dogs and rabbits being the most common of these.

However, providing veterinary care and keeping pets like cats safe and well involves much more than simply looking after them when they are sick; it also means providing education and preventative healthcare too, to reduce the chances of animals developing health conditions or becoming injured as well.

In order to provide effective veterinary care and preventative health care, pet owners first need to know what this entails; which means that the PDSA also works hard to educate pet owners in this regard too.

In support of this, the PDSA has conducted a large-scale annual survey every year since 2011, encompassing 10,000 people to determine facts like how many people in the UK own a pet (50%), and of those that do, how knowledgeable and responsible they are about caring for the pets that they do own.

The survey – called the PAW PDSA Animal Welfare Report – asks a large, comprehensive range of questions to the pet owners that participate in it, covering everything from broad topics like what type of pet said respondents own, right down to what they feed them and how well they understand the species in question.

The results of the survey itself runs to tens of pages, and is comprehensive and fascinating reading if you have the time to go through it all in detail! 

When it comes to cats, the PAW survey 2019 revealed some fascinating facts about cats and cat ownership in the UK at the present time, and in this article, we’ll summarise and share some of the most interesting ones. Read on to learn more.

Quick Cat Facts for 2019

The survey established some broad and quite informative findings about the UK cat population as a whole whilst surveying pet owners.

  • There are around 10.9 million pet cats in the UK.
  • 24% of UK adults own a cat.

Do cats in the UK live indoors or outdoors?

  • 73% of the UK’s cats have access to outdoors, or live outdoors.
  • That means that 27% of the UK’s cats – or 2.9 million cats in total – live indoors only, which is significantly more than many people expect, given that keeping cats as indoor-only pets used to be virtually unheard of here in the UK.

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What do the cats of the UK eat?

Not including small rodents and other nasties that many cats are adept at catching for themselves, the survey revealed that 50% of the UK’s cats are fed a mixed diet of both wet and dry food.

  • In terms of what makes up the bulk of the diet, 48% feed mainly dry food, and 39% mainly wet food.
  • 2% of cats I the UK are fed a raw diet, in an even split of 1% being fed a readymade/bought raw diet for cats, and the other 1% having their diet prepared from scratch by their owners. 
  • This means 220,000 cats in the UK are fed a raw diet rather than a commercial diet.
  • 13% of cat owners feed their cats fish like tuna or prawns as the bulk of their cat’s diet, and 10% feed their cats cooked meat as their main source of food. 9% of cats in the UK are fed mainly human food and scraps from human meals.
  • Whilst such alternative approaches might seem more in line with the type of things cats like to eat, feeding cats in such a manner can lead to severe nutritional deficiencies, and the PDSA strongly advises against feeding cats anything other than a complete balanced diet.
  • 78% of UK cat owners give their cats treats regularly.
  • 54% of cat owners that feed treats give their cats shop-bought treats, and 34% give meat, fish and other human foods or scraps. 20% of cats are given dental treats.
  • 13% of cats in the UK are regularly given specially designed milks for cats, and 9% are given regular milk.

Pet sitting provisions

Dogs tend to stay in kennels when their owners go on holiday without them, but what about cats?

  • 56% of cat owners leave their cats at home whilst they themselves are away, and have someone come in to feed and possibly, stay with the cat rather than taking the cat out of their own home.
  • 12% of cat owners have not been on holiday or had to face the issue of what to do about the cat since they got the cat, either by coincidence or design!
  • 16% of cat owners put their cats in a cattery when they need to leave them, but 10% of these owners don’t undertake checks to make sure said cattery is properly licenced and insured first.
  • 9% of UK cat owners board their cat with friends or family instead of using a cattery or paid facility.

Feline friends

How many cats live with other cats, and how well do they get on with each other? How do cat owners view their pets in the greater scheme of their lives?

  • 43% of the UK’s cats live with at least one other cat.
  • 18% of multi-cat owners stated that their cats aren’t overly friendly with each other, or outright don’t get on. Cats are, by nature, solitary animals that do not out of choice tend to live in social groups, other than with littermates that they grew up with.
  • Between 70% and 91% of cat owners agree that having their cat makes them feel less lonely. The percentages were quite variable across different age demographics, with 91% of people falling within the 18-34 age bracket agreeing, falling to 70% of people in the 65 plus age bracket.

If you want to read the full PDSA PAW survey 2019’s findings and learn more about cat ownership norms in the UK in 2019, you can download a copy of the full report here.


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