Research Outline

Caring For Cats: Veterinarian Visitation


To undertstand the nature of global cat ownership, by providing statistics around who takes their cats to the vet, and drivers of veterinarian visits.

Early Findings

  • An American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) study released in November 2018, 54.3% of U.S. cat-owning households made one or more visit to the veterinarian in 2016.
  • The study notes that U.S. vet visits have remained stable for over a decade, with .7 visits per cat year (1.3 per household), compared to 1.5 per dog year (2.5 visits per household).
  • In 2016, 47.2% of cat owners brought their cat to the vet for routine care.
  • Still, 89.1% of cat owners have a 'regular veterinarian'.
  • Preventative care, vaccinations, and illness are the top three reasons for taking a cat to a veterinarian.
  • The top drivers of veterinarian selection among cat owners include high quality care and the compassion and expert knowledge the vet offers.
  • In 2016, China was second globally in terms of cat ownership (58.1 million), behind only the United States, (86.0 million).
  • The market value of the pet industry in China is growing, reaching $24.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.
  • One study referenced anecdotal data, based on discussion with various veterinarians, which indicated cat visits to vets had increased from about 5% to 30% over a period of 5 years (2010 to 2015)
  • 47.1% of dog and cat owners feel frustrated with the lack of medical services for their pets.
  • Chinese cat owners spent an average of RMB 742 ($103.88 USD) on veterinary services in 2018.
  • A 2017 study found that 14.8% of cats treated by veterinarians in Great Britain were less than a year old, while 41.4% were greater than 8 years. 43.8% were between 1 and 8 years.
  • Vet services in the U.S. are expected to grow 5.3% per year between 2018 and 2023.
  • Trends in the vet care business include technologies connecting online vets with pet owners, consolidation of vet practices, and expansion of vet services by retailers, such as Petco.

Summary of Early Findings Relevant to the Goals

  • One hour of research revealed a good amount of information about cat owners and their veterinarian visits in the United States, with statistics about frequency of vet visits and motivations for taking cats to the vet. We uncovered research pointing to trends in veterinarian services, including cats, in the US.
  • We also identified some information in about visits to veterinarians among cat owners in China, and some limited information about cat ownership and vet visits in the United Kingdom.
  • Global information about veterinarian visits was more difficult to uncover, with specific information about the veterinary services market overall, and specifically related to cats, found behind paywalls.
  • Our recommendations reflect the availability of information found in this hour of research pursuant to the objective of understanding how owners care for their pets by taking them to the veterinarian.