The estimated number of pet cats has topped that of dogs for the first time since comparable data became available in 1994, probably mirroring the nation's aging population, an industry body said Friday.

According to the annual survey by the Japan Pet Food Association, the estimated number of pet cats stood at 9,526,000 this year, remaining almost unchanged in recent years, while the number of pet dogs stood at 8,920,000, continuing a downward trend.

"The aging population and increase in people living alone may have contributed to the outcome as dogs need (more) attention, like being taken for walks," a pet industry expert said.

The survey was based on answers submitted online by over 50,000 people across the country, according to the association.