South Africa has many more dogs than cats. File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

By Roberto A. Ferdman and Christopher Ingraham

We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people.

But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

South Africa is definitely dog country. It has 9.1 million dogs to 2.4 million cats.

In the US, slightly more households own dogs than own cats. But Euromonitor’s numbers show that in terms of raw population, cats outnumber dogs to the tune of 2 million (the number is closer to 4 million, by the American Veterinary Medical Association's estimate).

Why? One simple explanation is that cats are more compact. You can fit more cats in a house than you can, say, golden retrievers.

Still, overall, most US states have a pretty balanced cat-dog ratio.

Around the world the story is quite different. The Euromonitor gave estimates of the pet dog and cat populations in 54 countries, and some show a stark dog/cat divide.

In India, for instance, pet dogs outnumber cats 10-to-1. Dogs enjoy a 2.5-to-1 advantage in China.

On the other hand, cats outnumber dogs 3-to-1 in Switzerland, Austria and Turkey.

Overall, cats are the favoured pet in most of Western Europe, with the exception of Spain, Portugal and Ireland.

South America is strictly dog country, as is much of Asia.

"Some regions, like the Middle East and part of Africa, have an especially long-standing appreciation of cats," Koerten said. "In Latin America it's the complete opposite. Dogs are part of family life there."

World pet populations also appear to follow a few interesting—if inexplicable—trends. For one, highly developed countries, for reasons yet unclear, tend to have more balanced cat and dog populations.

"Looking across all countries, there's a correlation between developed economies and balanced pet preferences," Koerten said.

Brazil, as is turns out, has a strange affinity for small dogs—it has more small dogs per capita than any other country. – The Washington Post