There are very few areas of the US pet market in which dogs do not dominate. Aside from the litter category, cats have historically taken an often distant second place in the overall pet market, with cat offerings and options seldom as robust as those for dogs.
The historical reasons for this skew include the higher rate of dog ownership and the higher spending on pet food, supplies, and services for dogs. The bottom line: overall product and services sales per dog were $1,126 in 2022, compared with $670 per cat, according to Packaged Facts estimates.
Cat owners are acutely aware of the discrepancies in market attention to the two main types of household pets. A significant share of cat owners in Packaged Facts’ September/October 2023 Pet Owner Survey agree that cats are “sometimes treated as second-class citizens” by various facets of the pet industry.
Moreover, this perception is even stronger among millennial/Gen Z cat owners than among their boomer counterparts, indicating rising expectations. Across the board, half of millennial/Gen Z cat owners perceive various facets of the pet industry as giving cats second-class treatment, ranging from a high of 55% for general stores that sell pet products, to a not-much-better low of 47% for veterinary clinics/hospitals.
The situation has been improving, however, as more marketers release cat-specific products, retailers keep cat aisles better stocked, and pet industry segments such as pet insurance increase their focus on cats. This progress, like the traditionally disproportionate attention to the dog category, is grounded in the bedrock hard numbers of pet population trends. A gradual ramp up in dog population has been in play for decades. This trend peaked during the 2013-2018 period, however, before the advent of COVID. In contrast to dog ownership rates, cat ownership has fluctuated only moderately over the last decades and, unlike dog ownership, are slightly on the rise.
For more information and analysis, please see the newly published report Pet Population & Ownership Trends in the US, 7th Edition