21 Mar 2024
by UK Pet Food

Paw-some new pet population data released by UK Pet Food

Whiskers twitch as report reveals that more men are adopting adult cats

Today, UK Pet Food (formerly Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association) unveils its NEW Pet Population Report for 2024[i]. The research reveals a noteworthy gender difference in pet adoption demographics with more men opting to adopt adult cats.  Findings also highlight the huge value that pets bring to our lives.

Over the past four years, 27% of men have chosen to take on an adult cat as a pet, compared to 18% of women[ii].  This translates to 1.5m new male households benefiting from the addition of an adult cat, compared to around 1m female households.  For the first time since the pandemic puppy and kitten boom, UK Pet Food data notes an appreciation for mature pets across all demographics, with a total of around 2.5m households acquiring adult cats and adult dogs have been welcomed into 2.1 million households[iii].  

Key highlights from the report include:

  • 17.2 million households (60%) house one of the UK’s 36 million (non aquatic) pets in 2024[iv].
  • There are 13.5 million dogs and 12.5 million cats in the UK in 2024 - and increase of 1.5m each
  • 38% welcomed a new pet into 10.9 million homes over the last four years[v].
  • Kittens and puppies welcomed into 2.6 million and 3.7 million households respectively over recent years.  
  • Fish are also swimming up the charts in 21% of UK homes

The report confirms that emotional benefits appear to be a strong draw for pet ownership with around one quarter of owners admitting that they enjoy time with their pet more than with their family members. Over a third (39%) confirm that their pet benefits their family’s mental health, around one half of owners over 45 would be lonely without their pet and one fifth would like to see pets available on prescription.

Michael Bellingham, Chief Executive of UK Pet Food, comments: “This year’s findings prove again the huge popularity of pets in the UK.  As the owner of an older cat, I was particularly interested to see that more men are adopting older cats! There could be all sorts of reasons for the increasing popularity of our furry and aquatic companions, but this year’s research highlights the profound therapeutic impact of pets. Pets play a significant role in our homes; they help combat loneliness and they can have a positive effect on our mental health. We were pleasantly surprised to see that one fifth of those questioned are calling for pets to be available on prescription. We couldn’t agree more.”

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Daniel & Lady Bug

Daniel Warren-Cummings, Behaviour Officer at Cats Protection and owner of Lady Bug the cat, said: “Cats have always been a popular choice of pet but we’re particularly

delighted to see that more men are seeing the benefits of older cats, as well as kittens. Just like humans, cats are all different and this is what makes them great pets for people from all walks of life - whether its indoor cats suited to living in a quiet home, or more adventurous ones, which thrive in a busy household, and love exploring the outdoors. We often hear from men who tell us their cats are not only great companions, they’re also incredibly entertaining which can be a great stress-buster.”

Chris Whatling, Founder of Animal People Recruitment explains why he adopted older cats: “Harper and Bear became cherished members of our family over eight years ago when we adopted them from Cramar Cat Sanctuary in Birmingham. After a heart-wrenching experience with our previous rescue kittens, who unfortunately succumbed to FIP[vi], we turned to rehoming older black kittens that find it harder to find a home. Harper and Bear's unconditional love and gentle nature have filled our lives with joy and healing. Their presence has been integral to our well-being, and now, with Rodney, our beloved Cavapoo, our family feels complete. Rodney's companionship not only brings immense joy but also significantly contributes to our mental and physical health through daily walks, fostering a deeper sense of connection and vitality in our lives.”


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Based on extensive research across 8956 households, the UK's pet population: 

  • 60% of UK households (17.2m) households 36 million non-aquatic pets
  • 13.5 million dogs (36% households)
  • 12.5 million cats (29%)
  • 1.5 million indoor birds (3%)
  • 1.3 million domestic fowl (1.6%)
  • 1 million rabbits (1.6%)
  • 700,000 tortoises and turtles (1.6%)
  • 700,000 horses & ponies (1.5%)
  • 700,000 Guinea Pigs (1.2%)
  • 600,000 hamsters (1.5%)
  • 600,000 snakes (1.3%)

This year's Pet Population data is featured as part of the comprehensive 'Pet Data Report,' offering insights into UK population data, regional trends, market data, pet nutrition research and more. For further details, visit ukpetfood.org.

For more information, please contact [email protected].

Nicole Paley 07718 518579 or Fritha Flint 07776 184083

[i] A Kantar / Soulor Consulting online survey with 8956 households regarding their pet ownership, released March 2024.

[ii] A subgroup of 2558 households were asked if they acquired a new pet, we looked at types of acquisitions among men vs women.  962 new owners answered this question.  With a total of 28.7 million households in the UK and 38% with a new pet in 2020-2023. Examining adult cats we see that that they were adopted or acquired by 27% of men vs 18% women.

[iii] Of the subgroup of 2558 who were asked if they acquired a new pet, we looked at types of acquisitions among men vs women.  962 new owners answered this question with 34% acquiring a puppy (3.7m households), 24% a kitten (2.6m households), 23% an adult cat (into 2.5m households) and 19% an adult dog (into 2.1m households).

[iv] A Kantar / Soulor Consulting online survey with 8956 households regarding their pet ownership.

[v] A subgroup of 2558 were asked if and when they acquired a new pet.  Figures were collated and we can see that 38% acquired between 2020-2023, which is around 10.9 million households.

[vi] Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a viral disease of cats caused by certain strains of a virus called the feline coronavirus.