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US Maps: Which States Love Dogs or Cats Most
[ 3 approaches and a conclusion ]

Published by Gilles Ventejol


5 min read

In this post you'll find 4 interactive maps illustrating 3 different approaches and a conclusion about how much dogs and cats are loved in the U.S. states:

It is often said that there is a chasm between cat and dog lovers.

Because the two species are so different, pet lovers praise them for almost opposite reasons.

Dogs constantly express their love for their 2-legged companions. They are dynamic, trustworthy, and affectionate. Some may point out they need much more care, are messy, always hungry and noisy. They also need more space. In the end, owning a dog costs more.

Cats are cute, especially when they are very young. They are calmer, softer, independent, even though they may seem sometimes indifferent or selfish. Some cats are playful. And also, think about protecting your furniture from cat scratches!

But, at the end, who win the race? Cats or dogs?

Probably neither of them. They meet different expectations. But in this never ending debate, we can offer some food for thought by showing you which states prefer cats to dogs and vice versa.

First approach: cats and dogs population

The first approach is rather straightforward: which states harbor the greater proportion of dogs or cats!

At a national level, dogs recently overtook cats: in 2016, they were 77 million vs 58 million domestic cats.

However, there are some states where cats still have the edge.

[ Hover over the map below to get the figures state by state ]

Difference between cat and dog population as a percentage of the total pet (dogs + cats) population.

source: 2016 AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook

Second approach: pet ownership

Now that you've got an idea of the pet population in your state, we can go a step further.

As we're willing to find out how many people love more dogs or cats, it makes sense to know if they actually own a dog or a cat.

As, in average, there are more cats in cat owning households than dogs in dog owning households, it changes the figures quite a bit and the new map is noticeably different from the previous one. But once again, in favor of dogs:

[Hover on the map below to get the figures state by state]

Difference between the percentage of dog owning households and the percentage of cat owning households relative to the total number of households in a U.S. State.

source: 2016 AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook

Note that households owning both dogs and cats are double counted.

Third approach: Internet queries

Some will argue that owning pets doesn't necessarily mean that we love them.

Humm? Maybe!

Or doesn't measure the extent of the love we have for them.

OK then.

Let's figure another way of measuring how much we love dogs compared to cats using statistics. Got an idea: let's look at how many queries there are in Google for "dog care", compared to "cat care".

Should give a god idea, right?

This time it's a done deal. Dogs trigger twice as much queries as cats do:

This is consistent with the number of consultations in veterinary practices or with the turnover of animal health companies: dogs generate more activity. Dogs are actually more cared for.

Is this really because we love them more?

It might not be so simple.

A possible explanation is that they actually need more care. Dogs age quicker. And, when they are ill, they exhibit their symptoms more evidently.

In addition, there is a greater variety of dog breeds. Some of them develop specific diseases or behavioral disorders that we don't see often in cats. When wounded or in distress, cats often hide or stay quiet: the owner not always notices these signs.

Anyway, as our goal is to highlight the differences between states, let's see by how much each state's queries vary from the national average i.e. 69% of queries for "dog care" and 31% for "cat care".

[Hover on the map below to get the figures state by state]

Proportion of web surfers asking for "cat care" vs "dog care" as a difference with the national average of 31% (cats) vs 69% (dogs).

Source: Google Trends as of November 9th 2020 over a period of one year.

The final: which states prefer cats to dogs

The first conclusion is that, obviously, dogs are preferred to cats. They are more numerous, more often owned, and generate more questions about their care. Moreover, in our recent post on Veterinary Services, we showed that dogs generated 75% of the turnover of pet veterinary clinics.

But there are still a few states where cats seem to be preferred to dogs. In our conclusive approach, we aggregated the results from the previous maps to find out our final winners.

Each state was awarded points according to how well it ranked in each of the 3 previous analyzes.

[Hover on the map below to get the figures state by state]

Our final winners are:

Of course, changing the way our grades were applied would have changed the final result. But by looking at the map you've got the general picture.

For your information, here is how the points were allocated: