How Many Cats is TOO Many?
Cats make amazing pets because they are quite independent and they don’t require a lot of your time on a daily basis. Some people have one cat, others have two, others have three or four.
When people see the great relationships that two cats can build, the temptation of bringing in a third cat in the household becomes quite large. Then maybe a fourth cat could follow and so on.
But is there such a thing as having too many cats, and, if so, how many cats is too many cats? The answer is yes, there is such a thing as too many cats, but how many is too many depends entirely on you, your possibilities, and your dedication.
How Many Cats Is too Many for You?
Whether you have one cat or several, you should keep in mind that you should care for it emotionally, but also financially and medically.
So, depending on your dedication to your cat or cats, you have to decide for yourself how many cats are too many. Before you take in another cat, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have time to spend with this cat individually?
- Can I offer this cat financial support for an extended period of time?
- Can I offer this cat the attention it deserves?
- Do I have the time and resources to care for this cat?
- Do I still have enough time to spend with my other cats?
If your answer to all of these five questions is yes, then you may be ready to take on the responsibility of bringing in another cat into your family.
However, if you have more no’s than yes’s, then maybe you should reconsider. You should be able to meet all the responsibilities of being a cat parent.
Space and Resources for Cats
Some people with big hearts want to save animals, so they bring a lot of them in their homes. Caring for cats is much easier than caring for dogs, so it’s not uncommon for people to take in a large number of cats even in small places. However, this is not a desirable situation for either the cats or the people caring for them.
Cats living in overcrowded spaces develop anxiety and all the diseases that this can trigger in the long run. Moreover, preventative measures for large groups of cats are difficult to enforce. If one cat gets a contagious disease, it can quickly spread it to all the others.
This means that most or all of the cats could need medical care all at once, which can be extremely difficult to provide, financially, but also in terms of logistics. Even with the proper financial means, it can be overwhelming to have to take a large number of cats to the vet on a daily basis.
Before you take in a pet, you have to be able to be there for it not only for the good times but also for the bad. When it comes to large groups of cats, these bad times are increased by each kitty living under that roof. This is why caring for a large number of cats needs to be in the context of a shelter, where several people can pitch in when needed.
How Many Cats Can You Have in Your Home Legally?
The laws that address the maximum number of animals that you can have in your home differ greatly from one country to another. In the US, each state has its own laws on this matter.
While in some states, you are not legally allowed to own more than two animals without having a kennel permit from the authorities, other states permit more animals per household.
These laws are specifically aimed to discourage animal hoarding, which can be a real issue for a lot of people. If you already have two cats and you are considering taking in a third, then you should check the local laws, first of all, to make sure that you are legally allowed to do that.
The One Cat Per Bedroom Guideline
For the cat to have sufficient space in your home, one cat might be enough if you live in a one-bedroom apartment. The maximum number for this space would be two. With more than two cats in a one-bedroom apartment, things might end up feeling a bit overcrowded.
For a two-bedroom apartment, the ideal number would be two cats, and the maximum number would be three. For a three-bedroom apartment, the ideal number of cats would be three and the maximum number of cats would be four.
Guidelines for One, Two, and Three Story Houses
If you live in a one-story house – that’s ground floor and first floor – you most likely have two bedrooms. Considering the bedroom guidelines, that leaves you with two cats, three at the most. Considering that your two bedrooms are in a house and that you have an extra floor, this means that you can easily house three cats.
Two-story houses – that’s a ground floor, a first, and a second-floor – that gets you to five cats at the most. As for three-story houses, as many as 7 cats would fit. However, remember to check for the legal limitations regarding the number of animals you are allowed to own when dealing with such high numbers.
Other Aspects You Should Consider
Aside from the physical space of an apartment or a house, there are a few other things you should consider before taking in a cat. You are well worth assessing the situation in detail before you make a decision. Here are the most important ones:
Dogs or Other Pets
The maximum number of cats described above refers to households without any other pets. If you already have other animals in your home, keep in mind that each of them counts as one cat at least.
If you have a large dog and you live in a one-bedroom apartment, then maybe you should reconsider bringing in the cat altogether to avoid overcrowding.
Moreover, there are a lot of animals that are not quite compatible with cats. Dogs and cats can get along, as many four-legged friends have demonstrated over the years, but it is not a given.
There are more cases when dogs and cats do not get along than cases when they do, so make sure you have a backup plan for the cat or the dog, in case they can’t live together.
Other pets that might not be good matches for cats are hamsters, mice, rabbits, gerbils, or even birds and fish. Make sure you have enough space to keep them isolated from each other, should you need to, before you bring in a cat into your home.
Children, especially at young ages, need dedication, attention, and space. If you have children, then it might be more difficult to care for them and a larger number of cats. So, think things through in terms of emotional, financial, and spatial resources before you bring in a new cat into your home.
Space for Litterboxes
The golden rule of litterboxes is to have one for each cat and an extra one on top of that. You also need to have space to place these litterboxes in your home.
Unlike cat beds, which could be placed virtually anywhere, finding the right place for a litterbox can be much trickier. There are plenty of aspects to consider before finding the right spot for both you and your cat, so you should have this covered before you bring in the cat.
Emotional Availability for the Cat
Loving a cat is an amazing experience, but it takes time, dedication, and emotional availability. After a certain number, it could prove to be impossible to find the time to bond with each cat. You need to spend quality time with each of your cats every single day. Although cats have been thought of as non-social animals, that is not the case, so they need your attention just as much as any other pet.
So, how many cats are too many?
As you can see, it is entirely up to you to find the answer that fits you. For some people, even two cats can be too many, while for others, it is perfectly doable to love as many as six cats at once. It depends on your emotional and financial availability.
All you have to do is be honest with yourself and make responsible choices. If you have the resources to be there for your cat for the good times, the worst-case scenario, but also in the long run, then you are ready to get another cat. If not, then maybe you should wait until you do.
How many cats do you have? And what does too many cats mean for you? What do you think is the maximum number of cats that people should have? Have you ever felt that it’s difficult to care for your cat? Have you ever felt overwhelmed? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.
Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,
We have 3 cats and love them all. I talk to all of them telling them they are wonderful and that they are loved. Only Nancy our little black cat likes to be picked up but the other 2 get strokings that they love. They are 3 individuals and are treated as such. They are company for each other when we are not there but now that we are retired that does not happen much. All 3 are insured in case anything happens to them. i look forward to feeding them of a morning, it is always Milli Vanili who is first, then Prince and then Nancy who come into the kitchen. They also get treats through the day. We would not be without any of them.
In my opinion, it’s not how many cats you can fit into a space or how many cats *you* want… it is how many cats your *current* or future cat(s) may want.
I’m a single person living in a 3br. I’ve had cats who’ve wanted to be my only cat, and I’ve honored that. I’ve also adopted already-bonded cats that wanted to remain together… I’ve done that too. The maximum number of cats I’ve had at one time is 3 (they were bonded together). My favorite configuration — i.e., the easiest on the kitties and the human — is a bonded pair.
I would rather have 1 cat — or 3 bonded cats — than 2 cats that don’t get along, no matter how much space I may have.
3 bedroom house, 15+ cats with more added every month to few months, maybe 4 to 5 litter boxes, this is not me but someone I know. What do I do to help them see this issue
i live alone in a 4 bed house i have 15 cats did have 20 but sadly some passed away im sick of been called the crazy cat lady
i love them sooo much
yes im always at the vets
i have 17 litter trays all are loved and cared for
im sick of peoples attitudes, im not a hoarder not am i crazy i simply love cats
mine are all home bred pedigrees and live indoors only i ahve a secure outside run
often wake up too 8 cats on my bed
im in the uk no law on how many you can have
The Litter Robot is awesome! I highly recommend it. It automatically scoops the litter. I have three cats and one litter robot and no other litter boxes. I just need to change the bag like once every three or four days. I have the Litter Robot Connect, and it sends a message to my phone that tells me when to change the bag. It might be a big help to you! It is kind of pricy.
I understand. I have 23 cats I live in a 7000 sq ft house. My cats are all healthy and indoors. I have two cations that they can go outside and be safe on. Most of the cats I’ve owned live to be 18-25 years old. I just simply don’t care what people think or say. I keep my house very clean and I do spend about an hour a day cleaning cat boxes and feeding them. They bring me joy and I love each one of them so very much. I am retired so I have a lot of time to love them.
I think you are doing a wonderful job with your pets. I, too, have a “indoor group” of spay/neutered felines. I no longer tell anyone my headcount. It’s none of their “beeswax” in my opinion.
Nothing wrong with spreading the love.
I love this. I have 8 am considering another. I love waking up to them in my bed too
if you can afford it and offer them the emotional support as well, then, why not?
Fantastic article!!!! Great advice and information regarding having furbabies.
At one point my husband said “what do we need a cat for?” That was 18 years ago. We had six cats earlier this year and I begged him for another kitten. Shortly after that he came home and told me that there was a mother cat and five kittens living under the hood of a used car at his job. We trapped the six cats and brought them home. Found homes for four of the kittens. Kept one kitten and mother cat. So we are currently at nine cats but did not plan this ahead of time. We have a four bedroom house and we try to keep the cats entertained. I am the food and litter person while my husband is the one who plays with them. We feel that as long as we can provide a comfortable home for them and spend alittle time with each of them as regularly as we can we are doing fine. As the article suggests I think it depends on the person and their lifestyle. I think nine is probably our limit. Thanks for a great article!
I have 6 pets in a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house: 3 cats (2 bonded Raggies), 2 Chihuahua’s and a hedgehog.
I’m questioning whether or not to get another Ragdoll.
My oldest pets are the Ragdolls that turn 8 this year and the youngest is the rescued Himalayan who is 2.
We also love to foster kittens and support local rescues.
We have insurance for all the babies, but as yet, thank goodness, no one has been sickly.
We don’t know what the future holds and would love a Raggie kitten for both the 2 y/o and the oldest Ragdoll as he’s so maternal and loves the kittens we foster.
Looking for advice
In my city, we’re permitted 5 animals and need a special license from the county for more (breeding). We’re also inspected regularly to ensure cleanliness, supplies, toys, vet care, socialization of the kittens, grooming, nail clipping and (most importantly) record keeping for taxes.
I don’t mean to criticize, but, IMO, when someone needs a GoFundMe account to pay for the most basic necessities and vet care, they’re not doing the animals any favors by bringing them into their homes. Of course, there’s always exceptions.
I’m thrilled that people love animals so much, but, there are other ways of loving animals without becoming a hoarder. I’ve sent several to different rescues to volunteer and actually, my son and I volunteer at one!
I have a few Pet peeves,
Those who don’t have enough litterboxes, one for each cat, plus 1 more. I have that, plus 3 more, just for the comfort and convenience of the cats. They have open boxes, hooded boxes, even 3 built into bedside stands, so each cat can have their choice.
People who don’t trim the cat’s nails
People who don’t comb/brush their furbabies as often as the coat requires. Ragdolls need DAILy combing, especially under their arms and at their backside, to prevent mats.
If you don’t have the knowledge how to brush them, ask for help. My pet parents leave me after learning how to trim nails and brush them. Ask your vet, your cat friend, even email me and I’ll help you.
If you don’t have the time, you really shouldn’t have the animal.
If, healthwise, you can’t do it, ask a friend, neighbor, somebody, for help.
If your furbaby is terrified of being combed, get a lion cut for them.
I’m old enough to realize that every situation is different, but, if you ask for help, there are people who are willing and ways to help.
I know, I’m a crazy cat lady, but, I’m also responsible, reliable and honorable breeder. I just think all animals deserve the best we can give them.
Amen on being a responsible cat owner!
Just a note, not all Ragdolls need daily grooming. My boy takes care of himself very well and never mats.
SUPER PAWESOME & FABULOUS TOPIC & POST, Jenny honey! Great information! TYSVM! 🙂 <3
We only have one cat (Miss PSB) in our very small 2BR apartment. Plus, the apartment complex rule is one pet per apartment. Do I wish I had two cats? Yes, at times, I really do think Miss PSB would benefit from having some kitty company and I wish we could have gotten two kittens when we adopted her. 🙂 <3
I think as long as people have the love, time & resources to care for their kitties then the number of kitties is subjective to personal preferences as long as the kittehs' well-being is THE top priority over anything else. 🙂 <3
Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!
Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3 <3 <3
I’ve accidentally became a cat person as little lost kitten just showed up in my yard spring 1998. I’ve always loved animals but didn’t consider getting a pet as always remembered my mother telling me how much responsibility is to care for one. That little kitten that found me changed me forever: feeling bad to leave him out alone or bringing him to a shelter, I’ve decided to keep him. It was almost instant mutual love. After he died at age of 14, I couldn’t imagine a life without a cat, but always thought I’d have only one. I adopted another kitten as soon as i could find one: which was 2-3 weeks later. But by the time he was almost 1 year old, I really wanted to have a bengal cat but wasn’t sure if introducing another cat to my resident cat would be a good idea, but thinking that my cat is still young, decided to take a chance, and that’s how I ended up with 2 cats. The introduction went so great and new bengal kitten and my 1 y.o cat became best buds. By seeing how cats interacted with each other I’ve became a definite 2 cat person. I do have the the space for a lot more then 2 cats and had thoughts to get a third one, but like Jenny said always ask myself all those questions about financial obligations and giving them the best of care, my decision that 2 is the ideal number for me. So after unexpected death of my Milo I ended up getting my first Ragdoll to be a companion to my bengal. The stories of both of my cats will be posted in the beginning of May on Floppy and Ragdoll cats of the week. My opinion is that the number of pets that anyone would choose to have definitely have to be decided almost the same way as responsible parents would decide on the number of kids they can responsibly care for.
=) thank you for sharing!
I have had 11 at one time but that was due to taking a feral Mom and socializing kittens. It wa short term with an end in sight so not bad. I have also for the most part had 5 cats in residence. Being older these are senior cats who have lived with us for their whole lives . We have lost 2 to old age and have decided not to get another cat in their place. We are down to 3 now and 2 of the 3 are seniors.
I truly think another consideration is your own age. Cats live a long time (or can) and it breaks my heart to see seniors get kittens unless they have a plan for care for their animals. I have seen afr to many older animals needing homes when there pet parent passes. I dread that.
Great post and lotsfor many to consider.
Thanks for sharing, Ellen – yes! A great point – how many cats is too many at certain human ages =)
You are right in saying we seniors should avoid getting kittens except in special circumstances. Our Calliope was found nearly frozen to death in a 2013 snow storm; she was just a little baby with pneumonia, even lost the tip of her tail and tops of her ears. When my vet introduced us, I fell immediately in love. She is my youngest at age 7. Trudy and Sarah are 9. Prince Charles is 16 or 17. I couldn’t bear being “cat-less”! Cats have brought me so much happiness throughout my life. I definitely have a plan in place… providing for them when I’m gone is my biggest consideration.
Thanks, Beth, for sharing. Yes, I have a plan for mine in place too =)
Six was the magic number for us for many years. Since my husband passed away, I’m the only “cat parent”. Four kitties (three girls and an old boy) get along great and enjoy plenty of my attention.
Wow. And they all get along? I have eight, and at the moment two of them do not get along so I have to keep them separated in different rooms, and one is both an outside and indoor tabby