Cat ownership ranking may give Illinois pause

Illinois … not a cat state? Data from the Schaumburg-based American Veterinary Medical Association would seem to suggest that.

The state ranks 47th for cat ownership, according to the association, with just 26.3 percent of households owning a cat based on newly released survey data collected in 2012 and reflecting pet ownership as of Dec. 31, 2011.

Gail Lawrence, of Glencoe, owns seven cats (Lilly, Rufus, Ivy, Biscuit, Charlie, Peter and Squirt) ranging in age from 8 to 14. “Cats aren't my whole life but they make my life whole,” she said.

Lawrence maintains that felines get a bad rap for their aloofness and says her cats are full of personality. She rescued all of them except Lilly, whom she bought from a boy raising money to go to vet school.

“People who don't own cats just don't understand,” Lawrence said. “If you are just visiting, the cats won't be social because you are not their person.”

Rochelle Michalek, executive director of PAWS Chicago, was surprised to hear that Illinois ranks low in cat ownership.

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