How many cats is too many for one household?

newhomeseekerDecember 8, 2009

If someone would have asked me this question a year ago I would have said 4 (I had 3 at the time). But I've had the four of them for a year and they get along fine. There are hardly ever any squables and if there are they are between the first two (a dominant female and my only male who hates her for some reason). I'm asking because right now I am the definition of the crazy cat lady. Until this weekend I had nine cats in my house! My regular four and five kittens that I am fostering for a rescue (I found them this summer) This weekend I gave my two boys up to the rescue so they can try to adopt them out. I miss them and worry about them finding good homes. I also have 2 fosters at a friend's house that I go over and feed and take care of every day. We have an outside kitty (the kittens mother) that we couldn't take to the shelter because I can't foster her (she has to be kept inside and she apparently doesn't know how to use a litter box and she is very aggressive with other cats) so she lives outside and we feed her.

suprisingly 3 of my 4 cats adjusted quite well to having five annoying kittens running around everywhere (I kept them in a room by themselves at night to give my other cats a break). The only one who didn't like them and I was shocked by this was my "big kitten" who is a little over a year old. She is a dilute tortie if that matters and the pricess of the household. She is very spoiled and vocal and is used to being the baby. SHe did not take well to the newcomers. She yowled and growled and hissed alot. She did settle down and did seem to enjoy playing with them a lot but even to this day she grumbles about the remaining 3 kittens.

I'm asking how many cats is too many to live comfortably in a household becasue I'm considering either keeping two of the three female kittens that are left or adopting a cat from the shelter I volunteer at. THere is a tiger striped cat there that has just stolen my heart. SHe's not a particulary friendly cat (she swatted me when I tried to pet her and left a nasty scratch on my hand) but she is beautiful and said to be sweet. One day she let me pet her and she purred. she has been at the shelter almost two years and she gets along with the other cats just fine, I think she is just sick of being there and really needs a stable home.

We have about 1500 sq ft upstairs and a full basement that is partially finished that the cats have access to all the time (we feed them there and all their litter boxes are there) We have 3 bedrooms they are allowed in all the time as well as a big living room which is full of cat toys.

I can afford to feed them all, vet care etc. If I couldn't, I would get a 2nd job. Things like cats peeing in the house has never been an issue (I can't stand it when people have cats and their house smells like cat urine) even with the kittens they always used the litter box.

Of the cats I have now, none are really aggressive, the oldest is 7 yrs and she is seen as the head of the household. My 7 year old male tries to challenge her at times but she just smacks him and sometimes runs and then its over. They get along with the kittens either by ignoring them (male and younger timid female) or by playing with them (youngest female) or they mother them (oldest female who never had kittens likes to snuggle with them and will clean them and they groom her as well.

The only thing that is difficult is keeping the house as clean as I like it (have to vaccum at least once per day due to cat hair) and I am allergic to cats (but only a slight allergy and I don't need medication for it)

So how many cats is TOO many for one household?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

One more than you can care for. If you can't keep the litter box cleaned EVERY SINGLE DAY, you have too many cats. I would say that if someone comes into your home and smells cats, you have too many. (You won't smell them because you live with them.)

People have no idea how they de-value their property with a cat smell (as though it matters to those I'm talking about!)

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 4:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"One more than you can care for."

Ain't that the truth!

Of course, there will be times when one is more than you can care for, ie, when he/she has an upper respiratory infection (or a urinary infection & won't use the litter box) & bites her brothers & gives you the ugly-cat-face look & is obviously *cramped* by your lifestyle.

but they get over it.

If you can feed 'em & take care of 'em & they aren't killing each other & you want them, then you have the right number.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 4:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

haha, you are going to be a crazy cat lady newhomeseeker :)

youre a real softie. I think as long you can afford to feed them and pay vets bills, and you have the time to to clean up after them then it's not too much. If it weighs you down financially or starts to affect the household hygiene then it's too much. You're going to end up with 50 cats you softie :)

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 7:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is a question I ask myself often ..but I ask "How many pets are too many for one house"?

I have 5 indoor cats, 1 feral barn cat, 2 dogs and 3 miniature donkeys. One of the dogs is elderly and on meds for different things, so costs have ratcheted up. One of the cats is now facing liver issues at 13 years old.

Personally, I would like to have 2 dogs and 2 cats, and one feral barn cat, plus 3 donkeys. That will happen over time, and my gocery and vet bills will go down. And the house will be marginally cleaner ...

So I know how many will be a good number for me one day. I always say I have "SAP" stenciled on my forehead ... especially when it comes to cats in need. 3 are rescues, the other 2 were probably "Drop offs" that showed up on my farm.

I agree with the rest .. however many you can afford and take care of.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 12:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My answer is less about the 'number' of cats, but rather the health and age.

There is a huge difference in caring for 8 healthy kittens, a healthy 1 year old Momma-cat and two healthy three year old adult cats.

Change that situation to a 15 year old cat with diabetes and pancreatitis and an 18 year old cat with cardiomyopathy, CRF and HyperT and the situation can become over-whelming very, very fast: Overwelming with vet costs and medication, as well as the day to day care required.

I have done a lot of fostering of kittens (and adult cats) which is always great, but it is EASY when everyone is healthy. The most I've had in my house was 11 cats (6 kittens + 5 adults). But, that was temporary until the kittens were able to be adopted.

My current 'herd' is 4 adults (one geriatric with a lot of health issues). Right now, I personally, cannot manage another cat due to the amount of time and medical requirements of my elderly kitty. The other cats get very jealous of the attention I am required to give the older cat as well.

I think a lot of people don't look ahead to the 'when kitty gets sick...' as to how many is too many. It doesn't always have to be age related as my 8 year old kitty had cancer and lost her battle to the cancer.

If you have the resources (financial PLUS human assistance), then that's different. But, if it's ONLY you and it requires working two jobs, for me -- that would be overwhelming.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 11:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Three was the max for me. Saintpfla pointed out just what I was thinking. It's one thing to care for 8-9 young healthy cats - I can't imagine doing it when they're elderly. I had one CRF cat, another with IBD, hyper-T and a somewhat chronic entropian situation. The third one was healthy just overweight. It was very challenging to take care of their medical needs, give them their meds, keep them from eating each others' food, get them to all their vet appointments and still get to work and fulfill my responsibilities there not to mention my other responsibilities at home. My vet bills for three were significant. I make a good income but I can't imagine funding all the necessary veterinary care for nine cats along with the rest of my financial responsibilities.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 11:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Doesn't you chance of inappropriate elimination (aka litterbox issues) increase with the number of cats you have?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 9:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Stir_Fryi: yes, it can. But, ideally, you increase the number of litter boxes when you add cats. For example, I have three litter boxes and four cats. However, not everyone does that and then they wonder why kitty is peeing on their bed or in the laundry.

It's not exactly a look that is straight from the pages of Architectural Digest or Fine Living, but I keep them scooped/clean several times per day. Easier for me since I work from home. If I didn't it would be done two - three times per day.

Now, if I could only resolve the tracked litter problem...I swear, I am going to invent something one of these days!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 11:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

saintpfla, you are my hero.

People often don't think about how the balance tips when a cat becomes ill. I have several cats, most of which have chronic issues that require great effort to control. None are quite as ill as yours, but I now realise that I cannot be a crazy cat lady! The time commitment and the financial outlay for healthy cats are shocking, when those cats become unwell they are crippling. Last year I spent nearly $8000 on medical bills for the cats. Add the routine costs of food, litter and toys, the cost of comfortable places for them to rest and things for them to climb-these guys get a new cat tree about every 18 to 24 months. ouch. Oh, yes, and add the cost of hiring a sitter when out of town on business. I don't take holidays. Can't afford to! :')

I did very well with 7 permanent resident cats, one self-taming formerly feral mature cat, two to four feral kittens, and the occasional not-tame feral cats bedding down in the garage on very cold nights. Yes, there are warm places to cave out there and even a heater which they quickly learned is great to clean up in front of. My office is on the other side of the garage, so I can care for any of the cats when other people would be commuting. The office is a halfway house for feral kittens, they're tamed and vetted and socialised then adopted out. The mature feral won't trust anyone but The Husband and me so is let to stay here. Ferals and former ferals don't go into the main house with the permanent residents-there's enough stress in that lot with chronic issues and aging without introducing wild critters. The wildlings come and go and sleep in garage or basement, whichever they prefer. They all get a combo of commercial cat food and home-prepared meats.

There are litter pans everywhere, you can't miss them here-they're 18 gallon Rubbermaid bins. There are occasional litter issues but that's expected when so many personalities inhabit one home. I carry the scoop and sack every time I move from one room to another or from office to garage to house. There's always something to pick up. I use horse bedding pellets which are a lot cheaper than cat litter and compostable to boot (after the poo is removed). White vinegar, baking soda, enzymatic cleaner and cheap vodka are a cat owner's friends. Stop that. The vodka removes smells after accidents. We're not the sort who drink the hard stuff. Yet.

And routine maintenance. All cats get their teeth brushed each morning before breakfast. Nail trims are once weekly. a light 'once over' with comb or brush each morning and a more thorough brushing at least once weekly.

I am often tired but it's like running a day care. The ability to efficiently and effectively keep a house full of happy cats while still earning a living sum is possible but takes a while to develop.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 12:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My cats are indoor/outdoor and never use the inside litter box if they have a choice of that or doing their stuff outside. I think that is very natural and I simply wouldn't have a cat if it had to stay indoors always. In the sub-zero winter with a heavy snow cover they will still go out quickly to eliminate in the snow. (yes, they cover it up even in the snow!)

If they are in all night, they count on us to let them out very early so they don't have to use the litter box. They are allowed in our guest house in bad weather and to eat each day. I'm pretty sure there has never been a 'elimination accident' in the guest house or the garage, so it works for us.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2009 at 12:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When my old cat died at 21, I was finally done. Ha! A feral cat had kittens under my deck "3]. She left them as soon as she could, returns once in a while if she is hungry, but you can't catch her.. Shortly after, another cat had 5 kittens in a big planter outside in the rain and of course I brought them all in. I tried to get them adopted but they weren't the right color or size or whatever, so now I have 8. Add them to the 2 or 3 feral ones that I feed and there you have it: I am the cat lady. ThenI started to get vouchers from the county toward having them spayed and neutered. I found out that I was too rich to have the county bus that goes around and does this. Never mind that there is a clusterbomb of cats here. [ This state is so backward. All you hear is to have your pets fixed, but at 160 to 200 a pop, no wonder people abandon their cats.] I am getting it done a little at a time, females first. Anyway, they are all sweet indoor outdoor cats-2 litter boxes that I change every day because a few come in at night. I have boxes in the garage with old towels or afghans where they can bed down as well. I could not stand to have all indoor cats and I live in a wooded area where no one is always watching their neighbors. Food is the big expense. but so far I manage. How many is too many? I don't know, but I don't know which one I would give away at this point.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2009 at 8:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Could you email me (address below) or respond to this post and explain a bit more about the use of horse bedding pellets as litter? We have 6 indoor cats and I have to find a more affordable alternative then spending $$$ on commerical clumping litter. I'm curious how to use these pellets (how to prep them before use) and how to make the transition to them from standard clumping litter.

I'd also like to hear your recipes for removing cat urine from carpet and upholstery. I first clean the area with vinegar and water, let dry, then put baking soda on area then drizzle with hydrogen peroxide with a bit of dishwashing liquid mixed in. Then I let it dry and then vacuum. Do you do something similar with the vodka???

Thanks so much.

My email is


    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 1:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think cleaning litter boxes for 2 cats is all I would be willing to handle. Fortunately, our 7 cats use the outdoor toilet!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 3:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:07AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
loose aggressive dog on walk, need help
i need helpful advice about aggressive dog in neighborhood....
UBAVET Joint Plus Glucosamine HCL
Does anyone have their dog or cat on UBAVET Joint Plus...
Cat pees in bathtub
Why does he do this. I think it is the only place...
Need some advice regarding my neighbor's dogs.......kinda long....
She has 3 dogs - 12 yr old Collie (some arthritis issues),...
What cute/funny things do your cats do?
I have one cat who fetches and will bring me toys asking...
Sponsored Products
Blue Small Border Runner 2'6" x 10'
$899.00 | Horchow
Straight Mailbox Post
Signature Hardware
Frasier Sofa - Key Largo Pumice Beige
Joybird Furniture
Tech Lighting Corbel Onyx 6 1/2" Wide Bronze Sconce
Euro Style Lighting
Black Floor Lamps: Berk Black Wood 62.5 In. Shelf Floor Lamp 3603-01
Home Depot
Kidwise Commercial Jungle Combo Bounce House - KE-CO2203
Eagle One Berlin 4 Foot Love Seat In Green
Beyond Stores
LED Juno Round Back White Track Light
$34.93 | Lamps Plus
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™