Cats…How Many is too Many?

Now that’s a loaded question, isn’t it?
When does “cat lover” cross the line to “cat hoarder”? We’ve all heard and read about “crazy cat ladies”…how much truth is there to that? Aside from being offensive to females, is there such a thing as having too many cats…or let’s be honest, it happens with dogs too, so is there such a thing as having too many pets?
group of purebred cats on a white background
The answer is of course there can be “too many”, but the real question is what is that number? I did a lot of reading and research on this topic, but unfortunately, there’s not going to be any hard and fast rule – “5 is good, 6 is too many”, because for some people, 2 cats is too many and for others 6 or 8 cats is just fine.
The real answer can be found in the care of the animals and whether you have the resources, both mentally, physically and financially, to properly care for each individual animal. The more cats you have, the easier it becomes to lose track of one of them. If one develops a urinary tract infection, or diarrhea, how do you figure out which one without constant monitoring. If you have only 2-3 cats, it’s certainly much easier to monitor for health problems than if you have 10, or 15 or 30.
Keeping the peace in a multi-cat household can also a challenge. Some research shows that male cats tend to be more independent, are loners and prefer to live by themselves while females live in a matriarchal groupings, typically numbering no more than ten. Cats are naturally territorial and if you live in an apartment, having 10 cats is going to make it difficult for them to get along without constant squabbles which creates tension among all of the cats.
The main concern should be the welfare of the animals. If all of your pets are well taken care of, well fed and healthy, then whatever number you have is probably okay. But if you don’t KNOW if all your pets are healthy at a proper weight, up to date on their vaccines, etc., then there’s a problem. Animal hoarders are notorious in their ability to deny issues and they don’t see the poor care or squalor that can results from being overrun and overwhelmed by pets.
If you are at all uncertain, ask a friend for an independent assessment and be prepared for whatever they tell you.

Additional Readings:
Who’s a Hoarder, and How Many Pets is Too Many?
Are 5 Cats Too Many for One Person to Keep?
Can You Have Too Many Cats?

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  1. Mommy sez da cutoff shuld be dun by how many can you fully luv and devote play and individual luv time each day. No more no less. Mommy gwu up in a house where hers mommy had wanted a football team but fankfully dat didn’t happen cuz hers mommy only had enuff luv fur one child and dat wuz mommys sisfur. And altho’ mommy be okay now, she gwu up finkin’ sumfin’ was wong wiff her and not knowin’ what it was like to be luvved. So mommy sez nopawdy or kitty shuld ever half to feel dat way in a home. Ifin yous not have da capacity to luv and spend quality time wiff all you have, you have too many. Gweat posty.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Lexi
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  2. Cats do seem to be collectables! We are satisfied with two, Mom has had as many as four.
    Emma recently posted…Helpful Home Grooming Tools By Andis #MultiPetManiaMy Profile

    • But we know how careful your mom is with her pets, so I bet even with four they were well taken care of.
      KitKat recently posted…Cats…How Many is too Many?My Profile

  3. Thank you for addressing this hot potato. I could not agree more.

    As a cat behaviourist, I was taught that 5 is sort of the limit for most people. Clearly, this definitely differs from situation to situation as your article very much explains, but from my personal and professional experience, I find that the number ‘5’ is a good general rule.

    The problem is that from 5 onwards, you start having trouble keeping track of it all. The comings and goings, who has eaten what, what comes out of who and who hasn’t been home in a while – all vital data for the vet. Even if they’re indoors, it becomes hard to track who goes to the bathroom and does what, not to mention that every time you add a cat, the interpersonal balance becomes that much more complex to maintain.

    I’ve seen too many households where the stress level due to the amount of personalities involved and the lack of territory that was available was so high that peeing in the house and chronic urinary tract infections were pretty much the norm – and THAT is a problem.

    If this is your passion and your hobby and you have the financial, spacial and mental capacity to stay on top of it all, by all means, do it. But realise that with each cat you add, you’re increasing the risk for behavioral problems and deterioration of life quality so be damned sure you do your homework – you owe the cats that much, I always say to my clients.

    • Agree 100%. Same goes for dogs to…although 5 dogs seems like a lot to me.
      KitKat recently posted…Cats…How Many is too Many?My Profile

  4. I think the major problem that people are unaware of is that cats are territorial. The more cats you add the more chances of you having litter box avoidance issues. Having to share a small territory with other cats can be really stressful, especially if they don’t get along.
    Lauren Miller (ZoePhee) recently posted…Rough Week and Sunset Walks!My Profile

    • Never having had cats, I didn’t realize that, so I can see how it would create lots of problems.
      KitKat recently posted…Cats…How Many is too Many?My Profile

  5. Between my roommate and myself, we have a house full of cats. Each one gets special attention daily and we look for any health issues. For us, this number is manageable, but I’m sure it would be overwhelming for others.
    Ryan recently posted…Turtle GardeningMy Profile

  6. I’ve never known how to explain how to determine the “right” number of cats. I think you’ve covered the issue clearly and fairly, and in a way that would be hard to argue with, although—as we’re aware—arguments abound in the pet community! It’s not about a number, but about circumstances.

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