International Cat Day

Chat. Gato. Kaas. Kissa. Котка. 猫 [māo]. 고양이 [goyang-i]. No matter how you pronounce cat, millions of people around the world call them family.

Back in 2002, the International Fund for Animal Welfare designed August 8 as International Cat Day. This year August 8 falls on a Saturday, which gives us weekend-level time to fete our felines.

For those unfamiliar with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the organization works to rescue individual animals, safeguard populations, preserve habitat and advocate for greater protections. With offices in 15 countries, and projects in more than 40, IFAW is one of the largest animal welfare organizations in the world. The goal of International Cat Day is to raise awareness for cats and learn about ways to help and protect them.

Sixty-seven percent of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet, according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). This is up from 56% of U.S. households in 1988, the first year the survey was conducted.

In the U.S., more households have dogs than cats – 36.5% vs. 30.4%. However, there are more cats as pets – nearly 75 million cats vs. nearly 70 million dogs. Around the world cats are more popular as pets than dogs.
Today, there are 600 million cats living with humans worldwide, and another estimated 600 million living independent of people. As you can imagine, it’s more than a little difficult to count feral cats. One website likened it to, well…herding cats.

Studies show that interactions with cats may improve health and reduce physical responses to stress. Having a cat in the household may also improve psychological health by providing emotional support to people suffering from depression, anxiety and loneliness. Two paws up for that!

You may be surprised to learn that cats didn’t join humans inside until the 1940s, which is when kitty litter was invented. Cats that live indoors have a much longer lifespan than those that live outdoors. Weather, traffic and other elements contribute to the disparity.

Believe it or not, domestic and feral cats have all been traced back to a single ancestor: the Near Eastern Wildcat, a species that domesticated itself more than 10,000 years ago by choosing to live near people and feast on the rodents that (literally) plagued early humans.

Tractive put a list of the top 10 ways you can celebrate your furry friends on International Cat Day. Check it out here. Depending on your local COVID restrictions, visiting or volunteering at a local animal shelter may not be in the cards this year. Call your local shelter or visit their website to find out ways you can contribute virtually. And if all else fails, watching cat videos on YouTube and Instagram totally counts.

Written by Lynda Walz, Sales Executive