The Most Cat-Friendly U.S. Cities for 2021

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that over 32 million U.S. homes own at least one cat, or about 1 in every 4 households. However, not all cities are created equal when it comes to happiness of both cat and owner. We at PetListed set out to find these top cat-friendly cities for the upcoming new year.

To do this, we studied four different data sets that covered the 100 most populous cities across America. These metrics included the amount of cat-friendly housing in a city, number of AAFP certified cat veterinary practices, the abundance local animal shelters and welfare groups, and number of pet stores selling cat products. The result was a comprehensive scoring system that ranks the most feline friendly cities for 2021.

Top 10 Nationwide Results

most cat friendly cities in 2021 table

1. Birmingham, AL

Birmingham is the most cat-friendly city in America, scoring high across every category we analyzed. The city has an abundance of AAFP cat veterinary practices, animal shelters, and the third highest concentration of pet stores per capita. Birmingham’s housing market is also ideal for a cat owner, with 81% of all available rental properties allowing cats — the 6th highest in the nation.

2. Portland, OR

Portland is second on our list, scoring solid marks for cat-friendly housing and AAFP certified vet practices. In fact, the city’s housing market is in the 92nd percentile nationwide for cat friendliness. While strong across all categories, Portland was held back from the top spot due to fewer pet stores compared to other cities.

3. Madison, WI

Madison ranks third in our study, led by solid metrics across all categories. If you’re in the market for a new vet, this is the city for you; Madison has the second highest number of AAFP certified vets per capita in the country.

4. Richmond, VA

Richmond is the fourth best city for cat owners. It scores top for animal shelters & welfare groups, as well as for certified cat veterinarians. Richmond placed in the 99th and 94th percentile for shelters and vets, respectively.

5. Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis offers some of the easiest access to pet stores, as well as the fourth highest amount of animal shelters and welfare groups per capita. Looking for a new apartment? This cat-friendly city also has plentiful housing options for a cat owner, with just under two thirds of all listings allowing a feline companion.

6. St. Louis, MO

St. Louis is the sixth best city for cat owners in America, placing in the top third for every category in our ranking. The city shined for animal shelters in particular, where it had the fifth highest amount in the country. About 64% of all housing in St. Louis is considered to be cat-friendly.

7. Tampa, FL

Tampa is the best city for cat owners in Florida, and the seventh best nationwide. The city scores some of the highest marks in the U.S. for animal shelters, cat veterinarians, and pet stores. However, those looking for new housing may have a tough time, as only half of all rental properties allow cats.

8. Orlando, FL

Orlando scored the highest in the country for both animal shelters and pet stores, with over 12.5 shelters and 16.7 pet stores per 100,000 residents. While strong in those categories, Orlando was held back by a lower than average score for cat-friendly housing.

9. Greensboro, NC

Greensboro is the ninth most cat-friendly city in America, scoring strong marks in animal shelters, certified veterinarians, and cat-friendly housing. The city received an overall A grade in our study.

10. Denver, CO

Rounding out our top ten is Denver, Colorado. Though lagging in the amount of animal shelters, the Mile High City was second in the nation for cat-friendly housing, with 82.8% of all available rentals allowing cats.

Other Top Cat-Friendly Cities

11. Fort Wayne, IN
12. Baton Rouge, LA
13. Seattle, WA
14. Omaha, NE
15. Tulsa, OK
16. St. Paul, MN
17. Sacramento, CA
18. St. Petersburg, FL
19. Reno, NV
20. Cincinnati, OH
21. Scottsdale, AZ
22. Pittsburgh, PA
23. Indianapolis, IN
24. Albuquerque, NM
25. Wichita, KS

Methodology

Our study drew datasets from multiple government and commercial sources in order to produce our ranking. The four factors were:

  • Percent of Housing Denoted as “Cat-Friendly”
  • AAFP Certified Cat Veterinary Practices
  • Animal Shelters & Welfare Groups
  • Number of Pet Stores

For each factor, data was normalized by population to derive an equal measure across all cities, and scored based on an index of the full dataset. These factor specific scores were then weighted according to the importance of each column. Below are the sources for each dataset.

Cat-Friendly Housing Index

Data was gathered in partnership with RentHop, a national real estate website, to calculate the percentage of all housing that was “cat-friendly”. The dataset covered over 400,000 rental listings across 100 cities that had been on the market in all of 2020.

AAFP Certified Cat Veterinary Practices Index

The amount of American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) certified cat veterinary practices per 100,000 residents. Data was gathered from CatFriendly.com in December 2020.

Animal Shelter & Welfare Group Index

The number of animal shelters and welfare groups in a city per 100,000 residents. Data was gathered from Petfinder.com in December 2020.

Pet Stores Index

The number of pet stores per 100,000 residents. Data was gathered from Yelp in December 2020.

Population Data

In order to equally compare factors across all cities, we used population data taken from the most recent U.S. Census estimates.

Full Dataset

RankCityStateCat Friendly Housing PercentageCat Friendly Housing IndexAnimal Shelters IndexAAFP Vet IndexPet Store IndexTotal ScoreGrade
1BirminghamAL81%9580899890.7A+
2PortlandOR79%9279927185.0A+
3MadisonWI62%7173999083.4A+
4RichmondVA71%7999944280.1A+
5MinneapolisMN66%7497658577.9A+
6St. LouisMO64%7396737477.6A+
7TampaFL50%4488959177.5A+
8OrlandoFL49%401008010076.1A+
9GreensboroNC62%6992934676.0A
10DenverCO83%9931758374.9A
11Fort WayneIN73%8249857574.6A
12Baton RougeLA49%3993878773.9A
13SeattleWA82%9750795473.3A
14OmahaNE76%8671666873.2A
15TulsaOK73%8489822873.1A
16St. PaulMN76%8795358672.9A
17SacramentoCA78%9157627672.2A
18St. PetersburgFL55%5468749370.3A
19RenoNV69%7815819669.8A
20CincinnatiOH61%6798379469.6A-
21ScottsdaleAZ24%491969968.0A-
22PittsburghPA50%4194776767.6A-
23IndianapolisIN59%6364618867.3A-
24AlbuquerqueNM71%8083564766.5A-
25WichitaKS69%779787964.0A-
26DurhamNC45%33481007263.8A-
27Colorado SpringsCO57%5974675663.5A-
28MilwaukeeWI80%9323901762.9B+
29AustinTX73%8314835062.4B+
30Kansas CityMO81%9672521561.6B+
31LexingtonKY45%3459886561.3B+
32ColumbusOH81%9443701661.0B+
33CharlotteNC60%6639844060.8B+
34BoiseID51%4653865260.2B+
35ArlingtonVA39%2235977758.2B+
36Las VegasNV34%1587727358.0B+
37BostonMA45%367698756.9B+
38GilbertAZ18%282916256.6B+
39MiamiFL25%590638254.7B+
40GlendaleAZ48%3881229553.3B+
41RiversideCA56%5751338053.0B+
42AtlantaGA58%6186343652.9B+
43TucsonAZ43%3185712552.6B+
44LouisvilleKY54%5263386452.2B+
45LincolnNE76%8875172751.9B
46HoustonTX60%656557650.5B
47San FranciscoCA58%6046642050.1B
48StocktonCA78%9022136949.1B
49ClevelandOH55%5578402448.9B
50BuffaloNY40%2762536348.8B
51ChesapeakeVA30%1254687048.6B
52ChandlerAZ27%877763948.4B
53New OrleansLA30%1141698148.3B
54Winston-SalemNC56%5633435948.1B
55AuroraCO82%9830301347.2B
56DallasTX50%4369591246.8B
57San AntonioTX59%6232493246.0B
58ChicagoIL76%851154344.3B
59Oklahoma CityOK76%8934113543.9B
60Long BeachCA73%815843143.2B
61RaleighNC31%1366584343.0B
62ArlingtonTX34%1724518942.9B
63BakersfieldCA52%4738296142.5B
64PlanoTX26%684159241.5B
65AnchorageAK68%7552142141.2B-
66GarlandTX39%2470463040.9B-
67JacksonvilleFL54%5310504140.7B-
68Fort WorthTX38%2047475740.6B-
69LubbockTX34%1640555540.2B-
70NashvilleTN38%2167393839.2B-
71LaredoTX85%1000211038.4B-
72FresnoCA68%762734438.1B-
73San DiegoCA62%701248238.0B-
74Los AngelesCA61%686161136.5B-
75NorfolkVA41%2844236036.3B-
76Jersey CityNJ52%4856191935.0B-
77MesaAZ35%1860412334.4B-
78OaklandCA64%724251434.3B-
79Santa AnaCA53%507323432.8B-
80WashingtonDC39%2326128432.6C+
81Virginia BeachVA23%320604832.3C+
82BaltimoreMD47%373642532.2C+
83AnaheimCA57%58575832.0C+
84HendersonNV31%1417366631.7C+
85HialeahFL26%78259730.7C
86PhoenixAZ43%305528128.7C
87Chula VistaCA52%496203328.5C
88MemphisTN45%353793728.3C
89HonoluluHI50%422312627.8C
90IrvineCA11%029187826.9C-
91San JoseCA59%64250926.0C-
92PhiladelphiaPA40%261944425.9C-
93IrvingTX44%3218242225.0C-
94FremontCA40%252826822.8C-
95ParadiseNV29%91275321.6D
96NewarkNJ36%193165121.3D
97New YorkNY53%51132018.4D
98Corpus ChristiTX17%121104917.3D
99DetroitMI41%291611816.0F
100El PasoTX30%10482912.1F
Devin O'Brien
Devin O'Brien is a data science contributor at PetListed, and graduate of Cambridge University and the University of Connecticut. His data studies have been previously covered by The New York Times, Financial Times, NBC, CBS News, and Time. Devin is an avid pet lover, having grown up with two dogs and a cat.