Cats are big winners in Seattle pandemic pet adoption wave

It has been widely reported that animal adoptions have increased during the pandemic across the country, with people spending more time at home and alone. Now we have local data to back that up – and in the Seattle area, the cats came out big winners.

According to data from market research giant Nielsen, the number of adults in the greater Seattle area who own a cat jumped 18% in the first months of the pandemic, compared to a much smaller 4% for owners of cats. dogs.

According to survey data conducted between February and August 2020, approximately 854,000 adults in the Seattle area reported owning a cat. This is an increase of over 130,000 compared to data for the same period in 2019.

The larger increase in the number of cat owners makes sense for Brandon Macz, public relations specialist at Seattle Humane.

“It makes sense in this area where there are a lot of breed restrictions on animals in rental housing,” he said, “and of course we have a housing shortage and a lot of people who don’t. cannot adopt these breeds, so sometimes it can be a lot easier ‘to own a cat.

Even though the number of dog owners has not increased as much, there are still many more dog owners than cat owners in our metro. According to projections, 1.06 million adults reported owning a dog in the first half of 2020, an increase of around 43,000 from the same period of 2019.

Far fewer people in our metro own other types of pets, but data shows a sharp increase in the number of owners of pets other than dogs or cats. The number of adults who have another type of pets increased 16% at the start of the pandemic, reaching 340,000.


The Seattle metropolitan area includes King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. The total number of adults is expected to reach 3.16 million for the period February to August 2020, up 2% from 2019.

The increased demand for pet adoption across the country during the pandemic has had a big impact on Seattle Humane’s operations, according to CEO Christopher Ross.

“The number of animals produced locally[…]was always supplemented by the number of animals that were transferred from other markets, ”Ross said, noting that before 2020, about two-thirds of Seattle Humane’s animals came from other areas, and especially Texas. But there was so much local demand for animals in the country during the pandemic that the number of animals brought to the Seattle area declined dramatically.

The supply shortage to meet animal demand increased around March 2020 and has remained consistently high since that of Seattle Humane. (But if you’re considering adopting a pet, Ross added that they have a lot of kittens and puppies arriving this week.)

With the increase in cat owners, around 27% of adults in the Seattle metro area now cohabit with a cat, which is well above the 22% average for metropolitan areas in the United States. Almost 34% of adults in the Seattle area own a dog, which puts us slightly below the national average of 36%.

I’m not taking sides, but I guess you could argue that Seattle is more of a city for cats than a city for dogs (full disclosure: I have a cat).

Even so, we can’t hold a candle to the Spokane area, where 37% of adults have a cat, according to Nielsen data for the first half of 2020. This makes Spokane one of the best US subways for owning. cats.

A deeper dive into the demographics of Seattle-area cat and dog owners shows clear distinctions between the two groups. There is some overlap, of course. Data shows that nearly 300,000 people own both a cat and a dog. So I looked at the data only for cat owners who don’t have a dog and for dog owners who don’t have a cat.


It is more typical for a person who owns a dog in the Seattle area to settle down a bit, compared to cat owners. Dog owners are, on average, a little older than cat owners. They have a higher median household income. They are much more likely to be married, to be parents of a child under the age of 18, and to own a home. They are also more likely to live in a single-family home or townhouse.

It makes sense. A dog is definitely more work than a cat – sometimes people even compare having a dog to having a child. They need more attention and at least a few walks a day. And while many city apartment dwellers have a dog, it’s definitely a bonus to have a backyard for Lucy (the # 1 dog name in our area, last time I checked) can run.

Interestingly, more women than men own a cat or dog on the Seattle subway – and data shows that is also true nationally.


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