Cats In Europe

The history of cats and how they “took over the world” is something I always found very fascinating. So I hope you find it just as interesting as I do!

Going North

Photo by John Maffei.

Photo by John Maffei.

The soft climate in countries around the Mediterranean sea was no problem for cats from Africa. But the more north the cat went, the harder it got for them to adapt. Only cats who could keep themselves warm with low temperatures in the mountains and cold winters could survive. So only the cats with a long, thick fur survived. Those cats could multiply and the long-haired cats were created. They had a soft undercoat and a longer protective upper coat. The long fur was also mean to protect the cat against the elements.

Woods & Mountains

In woods and mountains in Norway and Russia most cats developed a longer and thicker fur that was necessary in their environment. In the 20th century those long furred cats were used with breeders and seen as domestic cats like the European and Oriental breeds the Norwegian Forest Cat, the Turkish Van, Turkish Angora and the Siberian Cat.

Beside the length of the fur, the color was different per country. Like the Blue Gray Chartreux is seen in Chartres in France a lot, but is probably from Siberia. Around the rivers in Europe like Rhône you can find a lot one-color cats.

A Chartreux by Massimo Regonati.

A Chartreux by Massimo Regonati.


In Europe are about 80 million domestic cats. For every household cats lives one stray: a cat that doesn’t have an owner and no home. The number of strays depends if there is a lot of food or not.

Photo by ZeroOne.

Photo by ZeroOne.

On the Hebrides in Scotland live 3 cats per square kilometer. But in the ports in the Mediterranean sea that would be 30 cats. On the Baltic islands and in Poland strays can survive around the farms. Around the Mediterranean Sea the cats have the biggest chance to survive, and live more cats without a home than with a home.

In almost every European country the number cats increases.

Those numbers only count the cats with an owner.  Including the global calculation of countries that didn’t had any numbers of cats there 84 million cats in Europe. In many countries like in Spain the number of strays is higher than the total of house cats.

  1. France – 9.2 Million
  2. Great-Brittain – 8.3 Million
  3. Germany – 7.8 Million
  4. Italy – 6.6 Million
  5. Poland – 5.5 Million
  6. Holland – 2.4 Million
  7. Spain – 2.3 Million
  8. Hungary – 2 Million
  9. Czech Republic & Slovakia – 1.6 Million
  10. Belgium – 1.5 Million
  11. Austria – 1.4 Million
  12. Switzerland – 1.4 Million
  13. Baltic Island – 1.4 Million
  14. Sweden – 1.3 Million
  15. Portugal – 1.1 Million
  16. Denmark – 850.000
  17. Greece – 800.000
  18. Norway – 750.000
  19. Finland – 650.000
  20. Ireland – 450.000

Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia & Slovenia – 3.4 Million

Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Belarus, And Russia (European part) – 24 Million

Cats by Bruce Fogle

22 Responses to “Cats In Europe”

  1. Charles Huss

    I once had a photographic book of stray cats is Italy. It seemed they were everywhere. I’m not sure if the book just made it seem that way or if there really is a problem there. Where I live, near Tampa, Florida, USA, we have lots of strays but they are more “hidden.” They tend to be skittish around people and stay away.

  2. heretherebespiders

    I’d say for Ireland, the number of cats without a home is at least 3 to 1 for those with a home. And spay/neuter is rare here, too. I know someone with several cats, indoor/outdoor – her home reeks of cat pee, and I met two of her cats recently. One with terrible ear mites and one covered in small scabs on it’s back – either fleas or a bad reaction to midges. Either way, I don’t consider them well-cared-for. Loved, yes, but not cared for properly.

  3. fozziemum

    We did have six..but lost two (passed away not missing) I adore my babies but people seem to think hubby and I are nuts to have four cats! they are all desexed,vacc’d,microchipped,regularly vet checked,inside at dusk,not roaming the countryside well fed and’s sad when best intentions of being a cat lover turns to hoarder and Pickles is a victim of this..we will never have more animals than we can afford to look after properly..the people who think we are odd usually can’t look after even one pet they have…cats..they are the bees knees..oh and dogs..oh and sheep :)

  4. Kitties Blue

    Interesting info. I know this is about cats in Eurupe, but do you know where the U.S, would fall is this group as to number of cats? Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo


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