Updated November 30, 2013

Study: Best Cities for Cats, Dogs, and Rabbits

Best Places for You and Your Pet to Live
Read more about Pet Care Statistics

No matter where you live, it's nice to have a furry companion to keep you company. But that companion – whether it be a cat, dog, or rabbit – may be better off in certain places over others. For urban-dwellers, we compiled a list of the top cities across the country that are pet-friendly in a number of ways. Read on to find out if your hometown made the list.

Study Methodology

  1. Cats: Median Number of Rooms per Housing Unit
  2. Dogs: Off-leash Dog Parks per 100,000 Residents
  3. Rabbits: Community Garden Plots Per 1,000 Residents
  4. Overall: Veterinarians per 100,000 Residents

Cats like to have plenty of space to prowl, sleep, and climb, so we looked at the median number of rooms per housing unit for each of the major metropolitan areas we reviewed. While this metric is helpful for any pet, cats are particularly territorial and will enjoy a healthy amount of room to explore.

And we also kept in mind the needs of dogs, which need areas to burn off energy and have some space to run. We ranked each city’s dog-friendliness based on the number of off-leash dog parks per 1,000 residents.

Rabbits can make great pets either indoors or out, so we decided to look at how rabbit-friendly each city is based on the number of community garden plots per 10,000 residents. Why? Because rabbit manure is great for gardening! So rabbit owners in our top 10 cities can either amend their own gardens or easily find a willing gardener to take some of that manure off their hands.

Finally, we know that good care is important for every pet, so we analyzed the number of veterinarians per 100,000 residents. You’ll be sure to find quality care nearby in each of these cities.

10 Best Cities for Cats, Dogs, and Rabbits

1. Portland, OR

Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon

  • Rooms Per Housing Unit: 5.5
  • Off-leash Dog Parks Per 100,000 Residents: 5.7
  • Community Garden Plots Per 10,000 Residents: 24
  • Veterinarians Per 100,000 Residents: 11.8

Not only is Portland considered one of the country’s greenest cities, it also comes in first place as the best place to have a cat, dog, or rabbit. The city ranks high in nearly every category, including first place for the number of dog parks. Overlook Park offers striking skyline views, and since it’s open from 5 a.m. to midnight, you can let Fido play when it that suits your schedule. Portland also ranks in second place for number of garden plots among all the cities we analyzed, so rabbit owners in the city can help fertilize any number of gardens with their pet’s manure.

2. Seattle, WA

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington

  • Rooms Per Housing Unit: 5.5
  • Off-leash Dog Parks Per 100,000 Residents: 1.8
  • Community Garden Plots Per 10,000 Residents: 18
  • Veterinarians Per 100,000 Residents: 10.3

Keeping us in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle comes in as our second best city for pets. Just like Portland, the city is rich with community gardens, including P-Patch Community Garden, which is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. You’ll also find plenty of vets in Seattle, ensuring you can easily find quality care for any of your pets when you need it.

3. Washington, DC

Washington, DC
Washington, DC

  • Rooms Per Housing Unit: 6.1
  • Off-leash Dog Parks Per 100,000 Residents: 1.2
  • Community Garden Plots Per 10,000 Residents: 27
  • Veterinarians Per 100,000 Residents: 8.3

Pets are welcomed in the nation’s capital. With a median of 6.1 rooms per house, pet lovers should have plenty of space for their furry friends to roam free. Washington also ranks first for community garden plots, and it has a fair number of off-leash dog parks. Plus, the National Mall offers plenty of green space for long walks and jogs with your dog.

4. Louisville, KY

Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky

  • Rooms Per Housing Unit: 5.5
  • Off-leash Dog Parks Per 100,000 Residents: 0.6
  • Community Garden Plots Per 10,000 Residents: 6.3
  • Veterinarians Per 100,000 Residents: 12.6

Louisville is peppered with veterinarians, making it an especially good place for pets with medical issues or other special needs. There are also 6.3 community garden plots per 1,000 residents. Off-leash dog parks aren’t quite as prevalent as some of the other cities on our list, but Louisville is home to miles of parks and trails, such as the scenic Jefferson Memorial Forest, which offers a range of difficulty options for hiking with your dog.

5. Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • Rooms Per Housing Unit: 6.0
  • Off-leash Dog Parks Per 100,000 Residents: 1.6
  • Community Garden Plots Per 10,000 Residents: 0
  • Veterinarians Per 100,000 Residents: 9.6

Minneapolis offers spacious homes for your pets to cavort around. There are also plenty of vets for checkups and illnesses, though the city is surprisingly low on community gardens. The City of Lakes lives up to its name with a number of dog-friendly swimming areas, such as the off-leash recreation areas in Minnehaha Park and Lake of the Isles.

6. Baltimore, MD

Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland

  • Rooms Per Housing Unit: 6.2
  • Off-leash Dog Parks Per 100,000 Residents: 0.3
  • Community Garden Plots Per 10,000 Residents: 8.6
  • Veterinarians Per 100,000 Residents: 9.5

Charm City comes in sixth place. With roomy homes and plenty of vets, your animals will enjoy maximum comfort here. Baltimore is also a garden-friendly city for your rabbit. There are some off-leash dog parks available in the city, in addition to the annual Howl-O-Ween Dog Costume Competition each October.

7. Denver, CO

Denver, Colorado
Denver, Colorado

  • Rooms Per Housing Unit: 5.7
  • Off-leash Dog Parks Per 100,000 Residents: 1.5
  • Community Garden Plots Per 10,000 Residents: 0
  • Veterinarians Per 100,000 Residents: 11.8

Denver is full of vets and also has a higher-than-average number of rooms per house. While community gardens have yet to take off in the city, dogs can enjoy one of the many dog parks. The city is also home to several pet-friendly restaurants, so you can bring your pooch with you as you wine and dine throughout town. Check out Denver Beer Co., which offers food, an on-site brewery, and dog “beerscuits” for your pet to chow down on.

8. Raleigh, NC

Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Rooms Per Housing Unit: 5.8
  • Off-leash Dog Parks Per 100,000 Residents: 0.7
  • Community Garden Plots Per 10,000 Residents: 0
  • Veterinarians Per 100,000 Residents: 11.9

Raleigh ranks number 5 among all the cities sampled in the study for number of vets, and it’s no surprise given that the city is home to NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The city also has mild winters, making it a great place for pets to play outdoors year-round, especially if you have outdoor cats or prefer to keep your rabbit hutch in the yard.

9. Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Rooms Per Housing Unit: 5.8
  • Off-leash Dog Parks Per 100,000 Residents: 1.2
  • Community Garden Plots Per 10,000 Residents: 1.4
  • Veterinarians Per 100,000 Residents: 9.4

Cincinnati is a great location for well-rounded pet lovers who are looking for characteristics suiting all types of animals. While no one statistic is a stand-out, Cincinnati residents (and their pets) have access to housing with more rooms, a fair number of dog parks and gardens, and a high number of vets. So if you want to bring cats, dogs, and rabbits into your home, Cincinnati could be the place for you.

10. Kansas City, MO

  • Rooms Per Housing Unit: 5.8
  • Off-leash Dog Parks Per 100,000 Residents: 0.2
  • Community Garden Plots Per 10,000 Residents: 3.8
  • Veterinarians Per 100,000 Residents: 12.7

Kansas City completes our list with the highest number of vets per 100,000 residents out of the entire top 10 cities. So if you like the comfort of knowing that a vet is just around the corner from you, then Kansas City is a great choice. There is also an active community garden organization, so you can find an eco-friendly way to dispose of your rabbit manure.


While these metrics are by no means an exhaustive list of qualities to look for when deciding on the best cities for pets, it’s a great place to start. You should also be sure to look into your local government’s municipal regulations for pets. Data for the median number of rooms per house and number of veterinary establishments came from the U.S. Census Bureau. The data for garden plots is from the Trust for Public Land and refers to individual cities, as does the data for dog parks. Looking for other cities with great places to take your pets outside? Check out our study on Best Outdoor Cities.

The Complete List: The Best 50 Cities for Cats, Dogs, and Rabbits

  1. Portland, OR
  2. Seattle, WA
  3. Washington, DC
  4. Louisville, KY
  5. Minneapolis, MN
  6. Baltimore, MD
  7. Denver, CO
  8. Raleigh, NC
  9. Cincinnati, OH
  10. Kansas City, MO
  11. Pittsburgh, PA
  12. Indianapolis, IN
  13. Sacramento, CA
  14. Atlanta, GA
  15. Austin, TX
  16. Philadelphia, PA
  17. Columbus, OH
  18. Birmingham, AL
  19. St. Louis, MO
  20. Virginia Beach, VA
  21. Tampa, FL
  22. Nashville, TN
  23. Richmond, VA
  24. Salt Lake City, UT
  25. Oklahoma City, OK
  26. Milwaukee, WI
  27. Buffalo, NY
  28. Boston, MA
  29. San Diego, CA
  30. Charlotte, NC
  31. Jacksonville, FL
  32. San Francisco, CA
  33. Cleveland, OH
  34. San Jose, CA
  35. Riverside, CA
  36. New Orleans, LA
  37. Chicago, IL
  38. Las Vegas, NV
  39. Dallas, TX
  40. Miami, FL
  41. Houston, TX
  42. Memphis, TN
  43. New York, NY
  44. Hartford, CT
  45. San Antonio, TX
  46. Detroit, MI
  47. Phoenix, AZ
  48. Orlando, FL
  49. Los Angeles, CA
  50. Providence, RI

Sources:

Lauren Ward is a research analyst at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Lauren Ward at lauren@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped families make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

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