A recent Forbes Advisor study has examined the best and worst cities in the US for owning a pet, including cat ownership. With over 66% of US households owning a pet, it’s essential to consider where the best places in the country are for pets and their owners and which are genuinely pet-friendly cities.
This study analyzed factors such as the availability of pet-friendly parks, veterinary care, and pet-related amenities to determine the overall pet-friendliness of each city. Whether you’re a proud cat owner or have a furry canine companion, knowing which cities prioritize the well-being of your pets can help you make the best choice for your family and four-legged friends.
The Study Explained
It’s important to understand the study parameters before diving into the data. As part of the study, Forbes Advisor looked at the 91 most populous cities in the US and then used data across several categories to determine a final score.
Part of that data was explicitly looking at dog ownership. Still, the elements of the study aimed at cats included looking at the average costs of vets for cat treatments, how easy it was to find a veterinarian for your cat, and how pet-friendly the city was overall.
Number One Overall
Tucson, Arizona, is the number one city in the US for owning a cat. It scored well in all three major categories, including being the 10th best for cat vet costs, 6th best in the country for access to vets, and 19th best for access to pet-friendly spaces.
While some of those placings may seem low, Tucson is the best overall if you own a cat when averaging out the scores.
Best City for Cat Vets Costs
Suppose your most significant concern for owning a cat is the cost of veterinarian treatments. In that case, you’ll want to consider moving to Memphis, Tennessee. The city has the best average prices for cat treatments in the country.
This part of the score looked at the average prices for a visit to a veterinarian’s office, the average costs of regular vaccinations, the average costs for spay and neuter surgeries, and the average cost of professional dental cleaning for cats. The data was taken from Banfield Pet Hospital’s own study in 2023.
Interestingly, Memphis only finished in 21st place in the overall study – it scored poorly for vet access and for pet-friendly spaces.
Best City for Vet Access
The best city in the US for veterinarian access is Plano, Texas, which also finished sixth in the overall list of best cities – it had a strong score for pet-friendly spaces. Still, it was slightly let down by the cost of vet visits.
This part of the study considered two things – how many veterinary offices there are in the city per 10,000 establishments and how many qualified veterinarians there were per 10,000 residents. Both factors were given equal weight in the scoring.
Best City for Pet-Friendly Spaces
The best city for pet-friendly spaces in the US is Albuquerque, New Mexico. This part of the study isn’t as clear-cut regarding cat ownership, as it includes three factors, one of which is the number of dog parks per 100,000 residents.
However, the other two factors are still relevant for cat owners – the percentage of pet-friendly apartments in the city and the number of pet stores per 10,000 establishments in the city. After all, it’s better to be able to access a pet store when you need something in a hurry than have to order everything online and wait for shipping.
Albuquerque scored well in other areas, finishing 7th in the top 10 list overall. It was let down by access to veterinarians.
Other Cities in the Top 10
The cities that made the top 10 list for the best cities to own a cat that aren’t top of any respective category include Raleigh, North Carolina (2nd), Nashville, Tennessee (3rd), Wichita, Kansas (4th), and Cincinnati, Ohio (5th).
Rounding out that top 10, you also have Kansas City, Missouri (8th), Louisville, Kentucky (9th), and Glendale, Arizona (10th). That means four out of the top 10 cities for owning a cat are in the South.
Worst City Overall
The worst city overall for owning a cat is Los Angeles, California. Remember that this only measures the 91 most populous cities in the US. Still, of all the major cities, LA is the one that makes life most difficult for owning a pet.
It scores poorly for cat veterinarian costs and for access to veterinarians, but its lowest score is for access to pet-friendly spaces, including apartments that welcome cats, and pet stores.
The Worst of the Rest
Breaking it down by each category once more, San Francisco is the worst city for average veterinarian costs. However, the city has at least average access to pet-friendly spaces.
The city with the lowest number of veterinary offices or veterinarians is New York City. And just a short distance away, Newark in New Jersey scores the worst for access to pet-friendly spaces.
Other cities that ranked poorly in the study include two more Californian cities – San Jose and Fresno. Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore are some of the other huge cities that aren’t great if you want to own a cat.
Time to Relocate?
According to a Realtor.com study, 68% of pet owners would pass on a home if it didn’t meet their pets’ needs, even if it was perfect for every other factor. But does this study mean that people should evaluate the entire city they live in and consider moving?
It’s unlikely – but residents of the worst cities should consider their pets carefully when moving home for any reason since they are more likely to struggle to access a veterinarian or to have access to pet-friendly apartments or pet stores.
These can be overcome by buying a home or just choosing your location carefully, but the study serves as a reminder that all family members should be carefully considered with housing choices.
Differences for Dogs?
The study was carried out by Forbes Advisor to look at pet ownership in general, and the cities namechecked in this guide are also the best for dog owners too.
While there was a separate scoring system used for access to dog veterinarians, the best and worst cities didn’t vary much. While there was slightly better access to dog veterinarians in every city, it didn’t change the ranking order, so both dog and cat owners living in Tucson can relax knowing they are in the best city in the country for their pets.
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