I've been doing a lot of unnecessary thinking.
And a lot of math.
When asked during an interview, JK Rowling once stated that there are about a thousand students studying at Hogwarts at any given time. And that's nice to assume, because it's very easy to picture Hogwarts as a huge, bustling city of its own. But given the information in the books, I don't think this is accurate.
There's a lot of disagreeing evidence, but the consensus is that there are many less students. For instance, if there were a thousand students at Hogwarts, there would be 250 students per house and 36 per year in each house (assuming that the split is fairly even). I don't know about you, but I distinctly remember exactly eight students mentioned to be in Harry's year in Gryffindor: Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville, Lavender, Dean, Seamus and Parvati. Did she just forget to mention the other 28 students? And furthermore, in the books, during a double potions class, there are 20 cauldrons set up on desks: ten for Gryffindor, ten for Slytherin (Bear with me. This is going somewhere, I promise).
This suggests that there are about 10 students per year in each house, which would add up to 280 students total. But that's a drastic reduction from JK Rowling's guess of one thousand, so I'm willing to be lenient, and propose that in any given house, the number of students per year could potentially vary between 10 and 20. Which (using the higher limit) could bring the final total up to 560 students at Hogwarts.
Phew! I'm out of figurative breath. Sorry that took so long.
So basically, 560 total students. Got that? Kay good. So now it's time to get down to the real point of this post. The cats.
We know that students are allowed to bring one pet to school with them. This pet can be either an owl, cat, or toad.
It would probably be safe to assume that given the choice, most students would rather have an owl because they seem to be the most useful. But the school provides owls for student use, so a personal owl isn't absolutely necessary. And owls are probably more expensive than the other two types of animals. So using this information, I estimate that about 30 percent of the students (170 out of 560) own owls.
Only one student's toad is mentioned in the book, and we know this to be Trevor, who belongs to Neville. This toad is quite a lot of trouble for Neville, for it is forever running away. And Neville, for a good portion of the series, is pretty lame. The fact that he has a toad enhances this. No one chooses to have a toad. You get stuck with a toad. Considering this, I have concluded that maybe 20 students have toads (and I think I'm being generous).
There are probably a fair amount who don't own pets at all. I think about 180 students thought that a pet would be too much of a burden, which leaves 190 students...
Of course, we must consider those students who don't follow rules and smuggle in other pets not mentioned on the school supplies list. Ron has Scabbers. Lee Jordan has a tarantuala. I think it's safe to assume that a couple Slytherins brought their snakes. And a rabbit or turtle wouldn't be too hard to hide. So maybe 40 students brought contraband animals.
Which leaves us with 150 students. One. Hundred. Fifty. students could potentially own cats. There could potentially be 150 cats roaming around Hogwarts at any time. This is a lot of cats.
Cats are well-liked throughout the world and rank sufficiently higher than a lot of animals on the "cuteness scale". I don't think this number is far-fetched.
So think about it. We know that cats are basically allowed to go wherever they please. Just look at Crookshanks and his many a midnight stroll with Sirius/Snuffles, the dog. Cats can roam freely without a second look. I don't know about you, but I find this to be a cause for concern.
Let me just tell you, when there is a stray cat on my college campus, it's like Christmas. Everyone knows the cat. The cat is given 300 different names. The cat is picked up, pet, fed, even taken inside the buildings.
People love cats.
If there were 150 cats just prowling Hogwarts' halls, students would never get to class. They would sit all day playing with the cats and conjuring up mice for the cats to chase. There would be cats in the library, cats in the Great Hall, cats in classrooms, bathrooms, kitchens… Cats in the astronomy tower, cats in Hagrid's pumpkin patch, cats in the Room of Requirement… And everywhere you go, you would have to pet the cats. Because cats control peoples' minds.
And the bigger dilemma is, people would trip over the cats.
I know Hogwarts is a big place, but with 150 cats spread out all over it, you are bound to walk past at least five in a day. And if you were in a hurry, and had to rush to Potions because Professor Snape hinted that if you were late one more time he would slip some swelling solution into your pumpkin juice, it's not impossible to imagine that you would run by a few cats without noticing them. And because cats are stealthy and like to cause humans pain, they would probably strategically place themselves directly in your path. And then you would fall to your death (or extreme injury) and break your glass vials and brass scales, and the cat would walk away unscathed, because magical cats really do have nine lives.
We know this has happened because I spent way too long proving it.
So we can't overlook the cold hard truth: Harry has tripped over the cats.
And I'm a little outraged knowing this. Because JK Rowling never thinks to mention it.
I'm no "boy who lived" so I guess my problems aren't as "pressing" as Harry's, but if I tripped over three cats daily on my way to Charms, you can be sure I would write about it in the story of my life. I think that's something worth mentioning. Even if you just alluded to the monontony of it to add a bit of contrast like,
"Harry couldn't believe it. He was the seventh horcrux. Voldmort's soul had latched on to him. He had to die. But he would make sure he died for everyone he loved. Nothing but pure determination filled his mind as he tripped over yet another cat on his way into the forest to meet Voldemort and his last few breaths."
I don't know, I would have appreciated the honesty.