Best and Worst States for Cats and Their Owners

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The cat looks through a hole in the US flag

Is your state cat friendly? Are there enough vets and pet stores to supply your cat with what you need?  Do they have no-kill shelters? What is the heartworm disease rate in this state? Are there other cat owners for you and your purry pal to befriend?

You may not want to live somewhere with a lot of feral cats that could teach your kitty bad manners, give him fleas or other diseases, bully him in his own yard or get her pregnant!

What are the animal welfare laws in your state? Of course, you will vaccinate your kitty against rabies but for rabies to be eradicated, every cat, dog and ferret must be inoculated.

Here's a run down of the best and worst states for cats and their owners.

image of a graphic presenting the best and worst states for the cat parents

First, the Best States for Cats!


child hugging a kitten isolated on white background

Oregon has some pretty stringent rules for pet own0ers. A clean bill of health and rabies vaccine are mandatory. Oregon statutes stipulate that cats and other pets must have adequate food and shelter that is safe and comfortable. Now, it's a bit cold and wet in Oregon, parasites are a problem plus there are birds of prey and land predators such as coyotes so your cat may be better off as an indoor pet.


Almost half of the Vermont population owns a cat. If you're just visiting Vermont for fall foliage or winter skiing or year around pub crawling, feel free to bring Kitty with you. There are plenty of pet friendly inns and hotels. There are many highly recommended groomers in this state. Now, there is the blacklegged deer tick to worry about. Check your cat daily for parasites.


Is the home state of the Maine Coon Cat a good place to have a cat? Nearly half the population thinks so! It is the law in this state that all dogs and cats be vaccinated against rabies by a license veterinarian. While a shelter in Maine may humanely dispose of a cat, they may not give or sell the animal to a research facility. Just remember not to bury any dead animals in the Pet Sematary. (Sometimes, dead is better.)

New Hampshire

Portrait Of Man With Animal Head

While many New Hampshire municipalities require licensing of cats, it is not statewide. Heartworms and other parasites are a fairly low occurrence compared to national average. New Hampshire law prohibits dying of animals and mandates rabies vaccines after three months of age. It is also illegal to take a kitten from her mother before eight weeks of age. This is a state that loves cats so much they named their baseball team the Fisher Cats.

West Virginia

Could West Virginia be almost Heaven for cats? The banning of declawing in West Virginia is currently a house bill. Even without it becoming an official law, vets that perform declawing are few and far between in this state. It's not all country roads! In this state you will find boutiques and restaurants that cater to pets.  That would make any cat sing!


Cats tend to live about two years longer in Montana than any state in the union. The reason is a combination of vets who keep a good rapport with pet parents and animal shelters dedicated to reuniting lost cats with their homes. A fine example is Spot, a twenty year old domestic short hair from Bozeman.

He strayed from home, but the shelter that found him went right to the internet to find his family. Another good example is Fluffy, a Norwegian forest cat from Kalispell who pulled through from nearly freezing to death in a snowbank. She owes her survival to the good people from the Animal Clinic of Kalispell.


The people of the Cowboy State love their pets! About 72 percent of the population are pet owners. They have access to some of the best animal healthcare in America. The environment is healthy and there's even easy access to non medical expenses.

There was a bubonic plague outbreak earlier this year and a parvo infection recently caused one shelter to quarantine. It's attributed to people not vaccinating their pets. With vets easily available, it is more of a won't than a can't.


portrait of a little girl with a cat in the garden

There aren't as many pet owners in Massachusetts as other states but the people who do have pets are very dedicated pet parents. Massachusetts is in the process of making declawing illegal.

Rabies vaccination is mandatory and there are many spay and neuter clinics are low cost or even free. In October, forty-five Ragdolls were rescued from a kitten mill. All were adopted within the week.


The state of Indiana partnered with the Animal Protection League to begin a very remarkable project at the Pendleton Correctional Facility known as F.O.R.W.A.R.D in 2015.

The inmates are given responsibility to feed and care for shelter cats. The cats learn people are friends and the inmates themselves learn to be better people. Fleas and ticks are a bit of a problem, so get a flea collar.

And now, The Worst States for Cats!


Sad cat with green eyes look

The people of Utah just aren't that cat happy. Barely even a quarter of the population owns cats and no kill shelters are as rare as a Mormon into speed metal. The air pollution affects the cats' health.

In fairness, Utah was on its way to becoming a no kill state, but a sudden influx of kittens has put paid to those plans. Spay and neuter, everybody. Kittens are cute, but sometimes the kindest thing you can do for a kitten is not let it be born to start with.


What can be said, cher? (The Cajuns pronounce it “sheh”.) People in the Pelican State are more dog people than cat people.  Louisiana prides itself on being the “Sportsman's paradise” and just doesn't want competition from Nature's perfect hunter and fish poacher. (No, not the kind of poaching you do with a pan.)

Heartworms, alligators, snakes and birds of prey further make this a difficult state for felines. Raccoons and opossums will steal Kitty's food and red tailed hawks will steal Kitty! Recently in Kenilworth, the coyotes have gotten restless. And let's face it, water hating cats just won't have big fun on the bayou. 

Washingotn, DC

While this is a great place for fat cats of the two legged variety, four legged ones might not have such a great time here. There's only one no kill shelter in the area and apartments here aren't exactly pet friendly.

DC does have a bit of a rat problem that some feral cats are being brought in to take care of. (These rats are of the four legged variety.) This is good for feral cats who might otherwise be put down for being unsuitable as pets but now have a useful purpose.

It's good for the people who don't want rats around. It may not be so good for pet cats who may not like sharing space with a territorial feral cat. 


Well, when was the last time you saw a cowboy with a cat? The people of the Lone Star State just prefer dogs. No kill shelters are rarer than hen's teeth, heartworm rates are high and the hawks, copperheads and coyotes think cats are tasty.

Depending on how far south in Texas you go, you might even run afoul of a jaguar! They're native to Central America, but they can't read maps. The armadillos are mostly harmless but can spread leprosy through clawing someone who gets too close. 


Gray stray fluffy cat rubs rubs against the legs of a man

Oh, Susana, you'll cry for the cats here. Fleas and ticks are running rampant and a cat's lifespan just isn't very long in this state. Cases of intestinal parasites are more than 70% higher than national average.

While cruelty to a cat is a Class C felony, there are more laws concerning dogs and even black bears than there are for cats. Between the cougars and the jaguar's little cousin the jaguarundi, your cat may not like the neighbors. 

New Jersey

Everybody hates Jersey, I know. People of the garden State just aren't into cats. There are a number of feral cat colonies running about. They are maintained by volunteer groups, so they're not as much a threat as many ferals are.

Truth is, cats in feral colonies fare better than the ones in the shelters. It's been said that everything is legal in New Jersey, but one legal requirement is for shelters to scan for the microchip. If you have a cat, get the chip.


Georgia may be on your mind, but cats aren't on theirs. The people of the Peach State prefer dogs, particularly bulldogs. (Fortunately, dog fighting is illegal.) Heartworm disease is a problem here. Though Savannah is the name of Georgia's oldest city, Savannah cats are verboten.

As to where cats should go and what they shall do; my dear, they don't give damn. Richmond County police, for example, have been a bit lackadaisical about doing anything about cats getting shot at.


While this was one of the first states to outlaw declawing and forbids outright killing of cats, the Golden State just isn't golden to cats. There are few no kill shelters and the feeding of feral cats is proposed to be banned. There's also smog and those California condors and coyotes to worry about.

Even Hollywood has a tendency to cast dogs more often as heroes than cats. (Of the domestic variety, that is. Films about big cats like lions and tigers have a draw.)  Of late, the evacuations from brush fires in Northern California has caused many cats to become separated from their families. Many shelters have had to relocate to Sacramento due to the Kincade fires.


What would Delaware? Probably black because cats don't live very long at all in this state. It may be The First State, but it's not the first state you'd bring your cat to. As far as Delaware law is concerned cats may as well be wild animals like the squirrels and chipmunks. Which means they can end up in the jaws of a fox, and they'll just shrug and say “Forget it, Jake, it's Delaware.”

The good people from a Brookhaven PetSmart offered a substantial reward when a couple stole a black cat named Batman during an adoption event. While Delaware law is a bit “whatever” towards cats, the Brookhaven Police Department were helpful and Batman is back with his foster family and safe.


Stray cats family. Group of sitting cats and kitten.

You would think that a state that declared the calico the state cat would be nicer to cats. You would think. Now, the Health Department does offer two low cost rabies vaccination clinics per year. That has become a necessity as the local raccoons have been coming down with the disease.  Mosquitos are another wildlife nuisance that can spread heartworms.

The Old Line State unfortunately has become home to people who are downright cruel to cats. Two Baltimore residents are currently facing charges of animal cruelty due to keeping more than two hundred cats in an unsafe and unsanitary environment. In Bellingham there is currently an investigation to find a serial cat abuser. A four year old American short hair named Rainbow is still traumatized by the incident.

And now more questions…

What state has the most cat owners?

That would be Purr-mont…er…Vermont. Cats are so beloved here, the university basketball team is called The Vermont Cats. Their mascot, Rally the Cat, can be found at games crowd surfing and giving high fives. Trapping season is coming up, so Vermonters are going to have to keep a close eye on their cats and dogs. 

Recently, legislation has been passed requiring trappers to report trapped dogs or cats. However, that's cold comfort when Kitty is missing a foot, if she's lucky. Vermonters and tourists visiting The Green Mountain State who like big cats (from a safe distance) might want to be on the lookout for the eastern bobcat. The Canadian lynx (they can't read maps either) is an endangered species, but sightings have been reported.

 What state has the most feral cats?

This is a difficult topic to research. Ferals don't fill out census forms, you know! Of the estimated fifty million feral cats in the United States, somewhere between 4,691 to 26,000 live in Lafayette, Indiana. This city and many others are taking part in a catch and release program where ferals are captured, spayed or neutered and returned to the wild if they prove to be healthy. Feral cats are just not suited for the “kittypet” lifestyle to borrow a term from a popular children's book series. The best that can be done for them is to prevent them from being a menace to public health.

 What country loves cats the most?

Fans of Axis Powers: Hetalia would say Greece since he is almost always seen with a few cats following him around or sleeping on his head or lap while he sleeps.  Italy and Japan have been seen cuddling with kitties too. In reality, it's the good old U S of A! 

One in three households in the United States owns a pet cat, with an average of roughly two cats for each cat-owning household. Of these, most were from friends and family while thirty-four percent were adopted strays. It seems breeders are on the outs, hopefully along with kitten mills.

The second and third most cat crazed counties are China and Russia. In real life, yes, Italy and Japan are big cat fans as well. Largo di Torre Argentina has become a cat sanctuary for the stray cats of Rome. Aoshima is a Japanese island where the cat population vastly outnumbers the human population.

 How many stray cats are there in the United States?

Of the original three band members, Brian had to cancel a US tour due to tinnitus, Lee has plans to do a show in Cucamonga and Slim Jim resides on the West Coast where he gives drum lessons via Skype.  Oh, you mean the stray cats, not The Stray Cats.  It's estimated that there are fifty-eight million stray cats in the United States. 

Every year, fifty million dollars in taxpayer's money is spent on damage caused by stray animals. The streets are not a safe place for animals born and bred to be house pets. Spay or neuter your cat and make sure Kitty always has some form of ID in the form of a license tag or microchip. 

If you are ever put in a situation where you can no longer care for your cat rehome her by giving her to a trusted friend or relative or even the animal shelter. Never abandon a pet in the wild.

 Which states have an official State Cat?

Many states like to adopt certain animals as their symbols. Birds, insects, fish and even dinosaurs can be so recognized. Many states have an official State Dog, but only a few have a State Cat. Colorado has diplomatically decided to declare all shelter dogs and cats as their state pets. 

Maine of course is quite proud of their Maine coon cats. Maryland admires the calico for having fur the color of a Maryland flag.

Massachusetts must have decided the M on a tabby's head stood for the name of their state and adopted this coloration as their State Cat.

 What is the most popular cat breed in America?

You would guess from the name that it would be the American short hair. It is definitely in the top ten. However, another American breed cat known as the Maine coon may be even more popular. Another American bred breed known as the Ragdoll was bred with the purpose of being the perfect pet and playmate.

Things went a little too well and the breed is fun and friendly to the point of being recklessly fearless. This is being bred out due to not being in the cats' best interest. 

America is a melting pot, of course, so foreign breeds such as the Siamese, Persian, Abyssinian and even the bizarre looking Sphynx have all found their way into American homes.

Cat holding the US flagConclusion

Some states love cats. Some prefer dogs. It looks like mostly the New England states that prefer cats. A cat could make a happy home near the harbors, where they first came to America as ship mousers.

Out in the farmland, a cat could be happy chasing field mice and snoozing in the barn but the dogs are needed to herd cattle and go hunting on the weekends.

Show your cats love by spaying or neutering, getting them vaccinated and making sure they have adequate food, clean water and a safe, warm home. 


Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.—and all over the world at

10 Best (and Worst) States for Your Pet’s Health at

The Most (and Least) Pet-Friendly States in America at

States With the Most and Least Cat Owners at

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