Maine ranks second for cat ownership nationwide

Bo and Arrow, the adorable widdle kitty kats that live with BDN reporter Aislinn Sarnacki.

The cat’s out of the bag. According to a study released this week by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Maine has the second highest number of cat owners in the country. More than 46 percent of households in Maine have a cat; only Vermont beat out Maine, with 49.5 percent of households having a cat. Generally speaking, Northern New England can haz kitteh.

Interestingly, the results were flip-flopped from the same survey taken five years ago; back then, Maine ranked No. 1, with 56.4, followed by Vermont. The Top 10 pet-owning states overall are Vermont where 70.8 percent of households owned a pet, New Mexico with 67.6 percent, South Dakota with 65.6 percent, Oregon with 63.6 percent, Maine with 62.9 percent, Washington with 62.7 percent, Arkansas with 62.4 percent, West Virginia with 62.1 percent, Idaho with 62 percent, and Wyoming with 61.8 percent. The lowest pet-owning states include Massachusetts, with 50.3 households owning a pet, followed by New York with 50.6 percent and New Jersey with 50.7.

Stan the Cat, being a very naughty kitty at the home of Emily Burnham, the writer of this story.

For cats specifically, the Top 10 states with the most cat-owning households are Vermont, where 49.5 percent owned a cat, followed by Maine with 46.4 percent, Oregon with 40.2 percent, South Dakota with 39.1 percent, Washington with 39 percent, West Virginia with 38.1 percent, Kentucky with 36.8 percent, Idaho with 34.6 percent, Indiana with 34.4 percent, and New Hampshire with 34.2 percent. The top dog-owning state is Arkansas, with 47.9 percent, and the lowest dog-owning state is Massachusetts, with 23.6 percent.

Other interesting facts ascertained from the study include:

  • In 2011, six-out-of-10 pet owners, or 63.2 percent, considered their pets to be family members.
  • There are approximately 70 million pet dogs in the U.S. and 74.1 million pet cats.
  • The average veterinary expenditure per household for all pets was $375 in 2011.

Though there’s no particular reason offered by the AVMA as to why Maine and Vermont residents enjoy their whiskered friends so much, it can be surmised that with a lower population, plenty of open space and cold winter, a cat might be a perfect companion for a chilly January night. At the very least, cats can be used as an energy efficient source of heat or as a replacement heating pad, particularly after the cat has been given treats and pats, and invited up onto the couch or bed.

There was no corollary research done as to whether the Cheezburger consumption in Maine matched the rates of cat ownership, nor as to whether the grumpiness factor in Maine is higher. Results are also inconclusive about the rates of keyboard playing among felines in Maine.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, a University of Maine graduate, a proud Bangorian and an arts and lifestyle writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food, from media and the Internet to theater and dance. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, taken belly dancing classes, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra, to name just a few. She's interested in everything -- especially if it happens in Maine. She welcomes any and all feedback or suggestions for stories.