We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.
Here in the U.S., slightly more households own dogs than own cats. But Euromonitor’s numbers show that in terms of raw population, cats outnumber dogs to the tune of 2 million (the number is closer to 4 million, by the American Veterinary Medical Association's estimate). Why? One simple explanation is that cats are more compact. You can fit more cats in a house than you can, say, golden retrievers. (You can also geolocate a lot of them, which is fun, but entirely besides the point.)
At the state level in the U.S., cats outnumber dogs in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Dogs are the favorite in the South and Southwest. The most dog-friendly state is Arkansas, where dogs outnumber cats 1.35-to-1. At the other end of the spectrum stands Massachusetts with 1.87 cats for every dog.
"A lot of that simply has to do with population density," Jared Koerten, a pet industry analyst at Euromonitor, said in an interview. "Many cities just aren't that dog-friendly."
Still, overall, most states have a pretty balanced cat-dog ratio.
Around the world the story is quite different. Euromonitor gave us estimates of the pet dog and cat populations in 54 countries, and some show a stark dog/cat divide. In India, for instance, pet dogs outnumber cats 10-to-1. Dogs enjoy a 2.5-to-1 advantage in China. On the other hand, cats outnumber dogs 3-to-1 in Switzerland, Austria and Turkey.
Overall, cats are the favored pet in most of Western Europe, with the exception of Spain, Portugal and Ireland. South America is strictly dog country, as is much of Asia.
"Some regions, like the Middle East and part of Africa, have an especially long-standing appreciation of cats," Koerten said. "In Latin America it's the complete opposite. Dogs are part of family life there."
World pet populations also appear to follow a few interesting—if inexplicable—trends. For one, highly developed countries, for reasons yet unclear, tend to have more balanced cat and dog populations. "Looking across all countries, there's a correlation between developed economies and balanced pet preferences," Koerten said. Brazil, as is turns out, has a strange affinity for small dogs—it has more small dogs per capita than any other country. And there's legitimate reason to believe young Americans might be having dogs instead of babies.