Objective: To describe dynamics of the pet dog and cat populations in a single community in terms of reproductive patterns and turnover.
Design: Cross-sectional, random-digit dial telephone survey.
Sample population: Information gathered from 1,272 households in St Joseph County, Ind that owned a dog or cat between Dec 1, 1993 and Nov 30, 1994 was compared with data on 9,571 dogs and cats received by the Humane Society of St Joseph County during the same period.
Results: Prevalence of pet ownership was lower than expected, compared with consumer panel surveys. Eight hundred forty-three of 1,335 (63.1%) dogs were neutered, compared with 816 of 1,023 (79.8%) cats. Cost was cited as a reason that 35 of 441 (7.9%) dogs and 34 of 132 (25.8%) cats were not neutered. Only 33 of 968 (3.4%) dog-owning households reported that their dog had had a litter during the past year, whereas 52 of 662 (7.9%) cat-owning households reported their cat had had a litter of kittens. Most cat litters were unplanned, whereas two thirds of dog litters were planned. Annual turnover in owned pets was 191 of 1,354 (14.1%) dogs and 194 of 1,056 (18.4%) cats. Pet owners underreported relinquishing pets to a shelter in the telephone survey.
Clinical implications: A combination of animal shelter- and human population-based data are needed to describe pet population dynamics in a community. Information about species-specific reproductive patterns is essential in designing population control programs.