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Can You Have Too Many Cats?

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Can You Have Too Many Cats?

By Dr. Justine Lee, PetMD

Do I really need to answer this question? (And yes, I realize this blog will piss off people who own more than 6 cats!)

Unfortunately, I do.

Years ago, I had two women who brought their cat into the emergency room at the University of Pennsylvania. Both women reeked so badly of cat urine, I couldnít even close the exam door due to my eyes burning from the ammonia smell. When I asked these women some questions about the catís environment, they couldnít answer how many cats they had. I asked, “10? 20? 60? 100?” Their reply? “Over 100.”

These two women, who were cat hoarders, didnít notice that their cat was ill until it was on deathís door, since they had so many in their “environment.” This cat was severely dehydrated, emaciated, and had a body condition score of 1 out of 9 (See†Purinaís body scoring system that we veterinarians use to evaluate weight). This cat weighed just under five pounds (instead of nine), and was so lethargic it couldnít even lift its head. (It ultimately died despite several days of hospitalization and life-saving care.)

So, can you imagine having so many cats that it prevents you from adequately being able to care for your pets?

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petMD is a leading online resource focused solely on the health and well-being of pets. The site maintains the world's largest pet health library, written and approved by a network of trusted veterinarians. petMD was founded to inspire pet owners to provide an ever-increasing quality of life for their pets and to connect pet owners with pet experts and other animal lovers. For more information, visit petMD.com.

735 comments

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2:51PM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

Nice to see you again Scott S.

2:50PM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

As long as you can feed them, supply fresh water, provide flea and heartworm medications, get their yearly check up and shots and provide personal time with each cat, I don;t think there is a limit for you. If you can;t do the above then you have a problem.

6:37AM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

The strays seem to find me -- but I set a limit at two years ago!
Thank you for an honest and well-reasoned post. Pity some people still "block out" facts and arguments that don't support their views.

9:57AM PST on Mar 2, 2014

A friend of mine who lives in Vietnam and fights against the cat and dog meat trade has even got 37 ! cats!!!
I´d only have room enough for a third cat in my flat...:-)

10:47PM PST on Feb 22, 2014

Having 6, some old, some dumped at my house, I have decided that that IS the limit. And if I loose anymore from age, I will not get more. Trying to get it back down to two. That is plenty.
They need another cat to play with,but being with them is the whole point of having them as pets, isn't it?
Love my babies. They have been with me through thick and thin!!

4:24AM PST on Dec 3, 2013

I have 3 cats and they all get along. But I agree I wouldn't want more than 3 or max 4 because you do get fighting and territorial wars and quality of life goes down for all cats. But we do hope to get a dog soon too but will limit the number of animals. Right now they all get lots of cuddle time and great care, more than 4 animals I don't know if that could happen

7:39PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

I think animal hoarding is mental illness with sad consequences for the animals and the hoarder.

7:33PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

Hoarders hoard animals as well as objects. Cats, especially, are often victims. People think if they keep a cat inside they are saving it's life. It's delusional. I work with a TNR colony (trap-neuter-return) and have watched of these cats that were released (fed every day and had shelters) survive until well over 12 years old. They are happy to be outside with their little companions and to see us care for them. A few I have taken home due to illness and they are my babies. I have taken female cats and kittens from a hoarders home. The house was disgusting. The cats (inbred Siamese/mixes) were beautiful and quickly adopted. I left her with just male cats and a house that wreaks. These people don't see it. When I asked her how many kittens died in her house over the years she cried. I cried for them. Hoarding is a dangerous disease.

12:24PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

I have no idea how people can afford multiple pets, unless they are very well off.

These days, vet. medical care has advanced considerably, yet with that care, comes increased costs to the owner. It's not unheard of for people to spend $2,3, 5,000 or more on a surgical procedure that Fiffy needs. Imagine doing that for 1, let alone multiple dogs or cats. That requires the financial wherewithal.

I highly suspect that people just let them die, or kick them out of the house. There's no darn way that people on limited income can afford these large medical bills. Heck, even a dental cleaning for Fiffy or Fido these days might run you a few hundred, up to $500. Costs have well outpaced inflation, it's not a quick decision anymore whether to take on a pet. Yet many do, irregardless and I'm sure don't even go to a vet. in fear of the bill.

4:33AM PDT on Oct 11, 2013

The only reason I can think of to have more than about a half dozen cats is if you're a breeder. But, if, like Dee G, you have the space, and can afford to care for them all, then who am I to say it's wrong?

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