By VICTORIA HEUER
July 13, 2009
One would assume, based on the attention given and money spent, that dogs are the most popular species of pet in America. That assumption would be incorrect. According to the most recent data from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the number of cats kept as pets stands at 81.7 million, while the number of dogs kept as pets stands at 72 million.
Unfortunately, the economic instability that has been plaguing American families for the last few years has resulted in increasing numbers of pets being given up to shelters -- and the number of cats being abandoned has far outweighed that of dogs. Likewise, many families are postponing veterinary visits, resulting in more long-term illnesses and unwanted pregnancies in pets. Of the 81.7 million cats registered as pets, 36 percent did not see a veterinarian in 2006, as opposed to 17 percent of dogs in the same period.
As the cat population continues to rise, shelters are overwhelmed and homeless animals are being euthanized in tragically high numbers.
From this sad compendium of slights arose the formation of the CATalyst Council, a dedicated and enthusiastic group of cat fanciers made up of members from the animal shelter and welfare industry, veterinary medicine professionals, and media companies. Their common purpose: To shed light on the needs of cats, and to change the common perception of cats as self efficient, solitary, and aloof creatures that can be left to fend for themselves.
As part of the campaign to elevate the cat's status, CATalyst recently took part in deciphering a collection of data from 25 of the U.S.'s largest metropolitan areas, ranking each city based on the number of cats living in the city, and the amount and quality of services that are provided for the well being of cats. The benchmarks for cat friendliness range from serious matters in health and safety, like the percentage of micro-chipped cats, to less weighty matters, such as how many cat shows are held and how many people subscribe to the leading cat magazine, Cat Fancy.
Here then, are the top 10 cities, according to the criteria set by the CATalyst Council:
#10 Minneapolis, MN
#9 Atlanta, GA
#8 San Diego, CA
#7 Seattle, WA
#6 Boston, MA
#5 Denver, CO
#4 Portland, OR
#3 San Francisco, CA
#2 Phoenix, AZ
#1 Tampa, FL
Extra points were given to cities that have favorable licensing ordinances for cats, in which the mayor keeps a cat companion, and where cats are defined (on the books) as companion animals. The ideal result from compiling this list is to erase the negative media image of cats by highlighting cities which hold cats in high esteem.