How Many Cats is TOO Many?

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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.

Clowder of Cats What is a group of cats called

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.

Clowder of Cats What is a group of cats called 2

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.

Clowder of Cats What is a group of cats called IMG_8532

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.

Clowder of Cats What is a group of cats called IMG_8525

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.

Clowder of Cats What is a group of cats called IMG_8530

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.

Seal mitted Ragdoll cat Caymus and Murphy IMG_5002

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.

Seal Mitted with a blaze Ragdoll Cat Murphy 2019 and German Shepherd Parker IMG_5136

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

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.

Litter Box Setup August 2012

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.

What is a group of cats called Clowder of Cats

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.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

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