How Many Cats Are Stolen In The United States Each Year?

Cat ownership has increased over the last 12 months, as has demand for new kittens. An unfortunate by-product of this has been an increase in cats being kidnapped and stolen in the United States.

I had heard that a lot of cats get stolen in the US each year but wanted to get into the statistics and see how many the reality was. Here’s what I discovered.

How many cats get kidnapped and stolen in the US?

Unfortunately, cat theft in the US has undergone a major increase in recent years. According to experts, this upwards trend has been made worse by the global pandemic, with cat theft going up by a staggering 250% since restrictions were first put in place in 2020.

Naturally, this has put many cat owners on edge, with daylight robberies and brazen attempts to kidnap cats seemingly being commonplace in many towns and cities.

However, despite these alarming reports and data, is there a significant risk that your cat will be stolen in 2021? Or is the wave of cat kidnappings finally over?

In this guide I will explore how many cats are being stolen every year, as well as answer any related questions on this topic, such as why cats are stolen so often, and how you can prevent your cat from being snatched.

With this information in mind, you will find it much easier to keep your cat safe whilst out walking and at home.

How many cats are stolen per year in the United States?

Up until 2018, the number of stolen cats reported was rising quite significantly each year until a substantial drop in 2019. Unfortunately, during the coronavirus lockdown, records of cat theft once again skyrocketed.

According to statistics, there was a double-digit increase in feline thefts across the United States from January to July 2020 compared to numbers from the same dates recorded the previous year, 2019.

In addition to this, the areas that saw the highest increases in cat theft were New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alabama – why these particular counties were so popular amongst thieves wanting to kidnap cats remains unclear.

cat looking up 1

When it comes to actual numbers, figuring out how many cats are stolen in the US every year can prove difficult. However, according to CatLost, a charity that specializes in helping victims of cat theft, in 2020, at least 2365 cats were confirmed stolen.

Compared to the previous year, which saw 1382 cats taken from their owners, this is an increase of around 170%.

In addition to this, it is important to remember that the actual figures could be much higher, with some cat owners failing to report the loss of their cat to the charity or local law enforcement. In fact, certain authorities claim that an estimated 2,438 cats were reported stolen by cat owners across the US.

Why are cats being stolen in the US?

There are several reasons why cats are being stolen across the US. In general, most cat thieves target designer cats and popular breeds to sell them on shady markets or to take advantage of cat lovers who are desperate to own these breeds at a reduced cost.

As well as this, they will also actively target cats who have not been spayed or neutered to breed them and then sell their litters for large profits. In most cases, thieves will choose to go after younger felines or kittens over older cats, as the former has the most potential for successful breeding.

Studies have shown that the demand for cats during the lockdowns in the United States has significantly increased, with many cat lovers deciding to bring a cat into their family whilst stuck at home.

Many thieves have noticed this trend and are actively trying to capitalize on it by stealing cats.

However, it is as of yet unclear how the loosening of restrictions and the eventual removal of the current lockdown in the United States will affect this – hopefully, the demand for cats will return to normal, and as a result, the number of thieves stealing them.

Is stealing a cat a crime in the US?

It is a crime to steal a cat in the United States. Thefts of cats fall under the Theft Act of 1968, with a maximum penalty of 7 years. However, this type of punishment for stealing cats is rare.

According to experts, another reason why cat theft is so commonplace is that prison sentences related to committing this crime are shockingly low – with the maximum sentence carrying around seven years.

Prison sentences themselves are rare, and it is much more common for offenders to be given a fine and community service. For this reason, many thieves are not afraid to steal cats in broad daylight, often right under the nose of vigilant owners.

Sadly, the risk of being caught is worth the reward for most criminal opportunists, and this has resulted in cat owners sometimes being assaulted in public, particularly if they are elderly or unable to fight back.

Therefore, older cat owners should always be on the alert for news or rumors of cat thefts in their area and act accordingly by asking a younger family member to take their cat for a walk.

Elsewhere on this page you can read my tips that could help you to prevent your cat from being stolen in the future.

What breed of cat is stolen most?

Understanding what breed of cat is stolen most can help owners to decide the steps they need to take to protect their beloved felines from being cat-napped. According to an analysis by Direct Line Pet Insurance, owners of the Bengal cat should remain the most vigilant, with this popular breed being the most at risk of being stolen.

Surprisingly, after Bengals, crossbreeds or mixes are the second most likely to be targeted by opportunistic criminals. However, this could have something to do with the rise in popularity of certain crossbreeds like Persian Ragdoll mix or Abyssinian Bengal cat mix.

Russian Blues are also another popular choice for cat thieves, with Maine Coons and Sphynx cats being the third and fourth most stolen cat breeds in the US.

Lastly, many other popular breeds, such as Scottish Folds, Munchkins, Persians, Turkish Angoras, and Savannahs are also at risk, making up a significant percentage of the remainder of cats stolen.

When looking at this list, it is easy to see a clear distinction between the types of cats that are being targeted, with medium and toy-sized felines being the easiest and most profitable to steal.

Therefore, owners of these breeds must ensure they are vigilant when walking or leaving their cats at home.

How can you prevent your cat from being stolen?

Thankfully, there are many ways in which you can help keep your cat away from the clutches of greedy criminals. First and foremost, always keep a close eye on your feline at all times.

For example, if you are walking in a park or green space and decide to let your cat off the lead, make sure that they stay very close. Likewise, keep an eye out for any shady characters that could be making a beeline for your cat. Additionally, try and stay within view of other cat walkers and groups of people in the area.

At home, similar rules should apply.

For instance, ensure that your garden is secure (check for gaps in fences, broken locks on gates, or holes) and not accessible by strangers.

Handy Hint: Here’s how to stop your cat from jumping over a fence and escaping from your garden or yard.

Likewise, keep an eye on your cat when it spends extended periods outside by itself. If a cat is stolen in your area, be extra vigilant and only take your cat out into the garden when you can closely supervise it.

Similarly, do not open your door to any strangers you do not recognize and report any vehicles that seem to be patrolling the area and stopping near gardens and other areas where cats are located.

When in public, be wary of people who approach and ask questions about your cat or try to take a photo of them, this a common ruse used to distract cat owners.

Lastly, never leave your cat unintended in the car or tethered outside shops. In vehicles, cats are sitting ducks for opportunistic thieves, as they can easily break car windows that have been left ajar.

This is particularly true in quiet or residential areas.

When it comes to leaving your cat tied up outside while shopping, all it takes is a confident thief to untie their leash and make off with your feline friend as if they are its owner – most people will be unaware of the crime that has just occurred.

And just one other thing too… make sure you insure your cat. Here’s how cat insurance for theft works.


Whilst it might sound like cat kidnappings are common, the reality is that aren’t as common as you might think, particularly based on posts you might see on social media.

For example, where I live, there have been social media posts about cats being stolen, which the local police have had to comment on to debunk. Unfortunately some people like to spread fear that your cat is going to get stolen.

That’s not say it’s not a risk. It is. So be diligent and safe.