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We Need To Talk About The Global Issue Of Pet Homelessness

A new State of Pet Homelessness Index pulls together comprehensive global data to help understand the issue and the best direct ways to tackle it.
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Our relationship with our pets is a special kind of love. Pets are family, pets are dear friends and pets offer love and support, as well as companionship. Adding a dog or cat to your life can yield physical, emotional and social benefits, as numerous studies will attest. Pets can also help ease stress, anxiety and loneliness.

Despite the connection between pets and humans, not every dog and cat will find their “forever home.” In fact, the number of pets around the world living on the streets is devastating and staggering. Across the continents, there are millions of cats and dogs with inadequate food and care.

According to Mars Petcare’s new State of Pet Homelessness Index, there are 224 million homeless cats and dogs in the nine countries in Europe, North America, Asia and Africa that the Index currently measures.

Homeless pets aren’t only those found on the streets, but pets who have been returned to shelters and rescues, who don’t have sustained human care and companionship. This includes 19 million homeless cats and dogs living in shelters in countries like India, Mexico, Germany, the USA and the UK.

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Ending pet homelessness is Mars Petcare’s bold ambition. The company has been serving the health and nutrition needs of the world’s pets for over 85 years and its portfolio includes household brands like Banfield™ , Pedigree®, Whiskas® and Royal Canin®.

“As we continue to navigate an extraordinary global health crisis, for many of us, pets have undeniably been much-needed companions throughout it all. At Mars Petcare, we know that pets make our lives better and the record number of people turning to pet ownership during this time might agree,” says Helen Mills, vice president of Global Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Mars Petcare.

Up until this point, there’s been no consistent way to measure and track the progress of various initiatives to decrease the numbers of cats and dogs on the streets or in shelters. Mars Petcare has launched the State of Pet Homelessness Index in collaboration with animal welfare experts in order to measure the scale of cat and dog homelessness by country. For the first time, there is a clearer picture of the vast scope of the problem and how it manifests around the world.

It collects data from over 200 global and local sources to measure the pet homelessness problem by country, which in turn can help animal welfare groups and companies like ours to identify practical steps to address this issue across the globe and to help see what’s working — and what isn’t.

Around the world, millions of cats and dogs remain in shelters or living on the street. We believe they deserve more and tackling this issue is central to our purpose: A Better World For Pets. So we set out to understand the scale of the problem as a crucial first step. That’s why we partnered with leading animal welfare experts and organisations to develop the State of Pet Homelessness Index,” explains Mills.

“Now, with initial data for nine countries, we have a clearer picture of homeless pet populations and insight into the most impactful underlying issues by country, as well as a means to track the effectiveness of interventions over time. By working to define the size of the issue and understand the root causes of homeless pets at a more granular level, we hope this will drive a profound impact on the problem. Because the world we want tomorrow is one where no pets are homeless.”

So what’s next? The data collected in the Index can now be used by animal welfare organisations, policymakers and researchers to help better understand pet homelessness in their countries and to work toward ensuring all pets get the care they deserve, for their entire lifetime.

You can learn more about the State of Pet Homelessness Index by visiting

State of Pet Homelessness Index data provided by Mars Petcare.

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