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These are the best (and worst) cities for cat lovers

While dogs make the best walking and running partners, our cats excel as lap warmers, climbers, and stalkers. According to the American Pet Products Association, 2021–2022 Pet Owners Survey, 45.3 million U.S. households own a whopping 94.2 million cats. But while American families welcome cats with open arms, not all cities are created equal when it comes to our feline companions. Two companies, OneVet and LawnStarter, conducted studies to identify the most cat-friendly cities. In compiling their lists, both took into consideration such things as the availability of pet-friendly apartments and house rentals, cat-friendly veterinary services, pet stores, pet-sitting services, and cat cafes. Following are some of the best and worst U.S. cities for cats based on the results of those studies.

Best cities for cats

Orlando, Florida

Home to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando topped the list of the best cities for cats in both studies. According to LawnStarter, Orlando has more cat sitters, boarding services, and cat cafes per 100,000 residents than all the 200 cities surveyed. Cat cafes are popular destinations for cat lovers looking to socialize while surrounded by felines. For example, at the Orlando Cat Café, 12 to 15 cats roam freely among diners and all are available for adoption. Orlando’s Kitty Beautiful cafe also provides exposure for shelter cats. Visitors to this cafe can participate in cat yoga or pet a lap cat while reading in the library room.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

OneVet ranked Pittsburgh the fourth-best location for cat lovers out of the 50 major cities surveyed. There’s no shortage of pet-friendly accommodation here, with a recent search on turning up more than 900 pet-friendly apartments available for rent. Being home to a wide selection of cat cafes was another reason this city made top ranking. At the Cattfeinated Cat Cafe, visitors can pet cats while dining and then shop in the cat-themed boutique with proceeds benefiting homeless animals. At Pittsburgh’s Black Cat Market cafe, as many as 16 kitties roam among visitors, and the cafe has found homes for more than 300 cats.

Two women petting cats in a cat cafe.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Lakewood, Colorado

Ranked number two in the LawnStarter study, Lakewood, Colorado, also made the list of cities with the most vets per 100,000 residents. There’s no shortage of community events and things to do in Lakewood, including socializing with cats. The Cat Care Society, which rescues and cares for homeless cats, offers a selection of monthly activities in the company of shelter cats, including a wine and snack “Catty Hour,” yoga classes, and a movie night.

Salt Lake City, Utah

According to the OneVet study, Salt Lake City is the third-best U.S. city for cats. In addition to ticking all the boxes for the availability of veterinary services, pet-friendly accommodations, pet stores, and cat cafes, this city got high marks on the study’s animal welfare evaluation. OneVet ranked Salt Lake City fifth for the highest number of adoptions in 2020, with 981 cat adoptions per 100,000 people.

Worst cities for cats

New York, New York

While the Big Apple tops the list of the most exciting cities in the world, it came in at the bottom of the LawnStarter study of best cities for cat lovers. According to LawnStarter, New York City doesn’t have enough pet stores, veterinarians, or cat sitters to satisfy the needs of the hundreds of thousands of cat owners who live there. Finding pet-friendly rental properties per 100,000 residents is also challenging, according to the company’s study.

Memphis, Tennessee

A mecca for musicians and home of the blues, this city scores as one of  OneVet’s worst for cats. Memphis earned this ranking because it has fewer veterinary services, pet-friendly rental homes, and pet stores per 100,000 people. According to OneVet, this makes it difficult for pet parents to give cats the life they deserve.

San Francisco, California

The 13th-largest city in the U.S. and home to the famous Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco was ranked number eight on OneVet’s list of the 10 worst cities for cats. It also made it onto LawnStarter’s list of worst cities for cat lovers and ranked among the cities with the fewest veterinarians per 100,000 residents.

Houston, Texas

The fourth-largest city in the country may be full of Southern charm, but according to OneVet and LawnStarter, it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to welcoming cats. Houston made LawnStarter’s list of one of the cities with the fewest veterinarians per 100,000 residents and ranked number nine on OneVet’s list of the 10 worst cities for cats.

Woman kissing her cat.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While it’s important to consider the availability of pet care services when relocating to a new city, pet parents also need to consider their pet’s needs when choosing a new home. As you browse apartments or houses, think about the vertical space, say ASPCA experts. You’ll need to have room to set up cat trees, climbing shelves, and wall perches to keep your indoor kitty active and happy. And remember, moving is stressful for humans and cats, but do your research and give your kitty the time she needs to adjust, and she’ll soon be feeling comfortable in her new home.

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Vera Lawlor
Vera was the pet columnist for 201 Family magazine and has contributed pet and animal welfare articles to Bone-A-Fide Mutts…
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