Lesson Plan Ideas

Lesson Plan Image

Pet Math


  1. Expand number sense by estimating solutions to problems.
  2. Add and multiply and apply these skills to finding obtain solutions to word problems.
  3. Calculate percentages.
  4. Learn how to collect, graph and analyze data about pet ownership.
  5. Appreciate the significance of the pet overpopulation problem and the importance of spaying or neutering pets.


Children love puppies and kittens, but are often unaware of pet population problems and the importance of spay/neuter programs. Calculating the number of offspring a pet can produce over the years can bring home the importance of this issue.

Surveying pet owners about topics of interest is a fun way to look at survey design, data collection and graphing.

Curriculum Connection: Alberta Education Program of Studies


Grades 4: Number Operations
Grade 5-6: Number Operations
Grade 4: Statistics and Probability (Data Analysis)
Grades 5/6: Statistics and Probability (Data Analysis)


Pet Overpopulation

Begin by having studies estimate how many kittens or puppies one pair of cats or dogs can produce in a lifetime. The poster, “They can’t read or write, but they sure can multiply”, might be a good conversation starter.

A simple guided math exercise will help students work through some calculations of pet reproduction: Companion Animal Overpopulation Math Sheet.

Students can also work through an exercise to see how wild cats have very different annual reproduction rates than domestic cats: Domestic or Wild? (ASPCA)

Type1 yr1½ yr2 yr2½ yr3 yr3½ yr4 yr
Domestic cat24 / 3296 / 128384 / 5121536 / 20486144 / 819224576 / 3276898304 / 131072
African wild cat4 / 60 / 612 / 180 / 1836 / 540 / 54108 / 162

A number of word problems have been included to further examine how pet populations can skyrocket. Most include answers at the bottom of the page.

Any of these exercises can be extended for a greater number of years to show population explosion over the lifetime of a pet. See Spay USA posters for estimates for cats and dogs. These show how tens of thousands of dogs and millions of cats can be produced in a few years.

Note: Each exercise makes a few different assumptions, so you will get different results. Discussing the differences with students can help show that the number of offspring produced depends on a number of factors ( litter size, litters per year, life expectancy).

Once students appreciate the incredible number of offspring that can be produced by one pair of pets, have students brainstorm and discuss some of the problems this can cause:

The BC SPCA has produced a colourful issue of their newsletter Bark! for students. It deals with pet overpopulation in a very lively manner and includes photos, and an illustrated calculation of pet reproduction numbers.

The ASPCA has prepared an easy to read info sheet on this topic: Pet Overpopulation. Spay USA has also produced a good poster series. As follow-up, have students do the SPCA Pet Population true/false quiz. A key with explanations is provided.

Different organizations have prepared a number of fun exercises on the topic of pet overpopulation. The first two can help students appreciate what these huge numbers really mean.

Pet Ownership Survey

Pets are really a part of the family. In this exercise students survey family and friends to get information on spay/neuter rates, but also on how pets are treated as family members. The survey can be as serious or as fun as you like.

Depending on students’ age and the time you have for this activity, you can provide a survey for students to use with their family and a few friends, or your students can make up their own questions as a group exercise. Be sure to design questions with simple yes/no answers. One set of sample questions is attached.

Once students collect their data, they can work together to add up the total number of responses and calculate the percent of “yes’s for each answer. Then they can make bar charts of their results. See the attached sample bar chart.