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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.

739 comments

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10:23AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

thanks, good post. There is a "too many/too much" for everything, including pets. Some people can take care of 6 cats, for some 3 would already be too much. I don't know where the absolute limit is, I personally think 10 cats sounds a LOT. But as long as they are all well cared for, the owners (and the vet!) should know that better.
I'm more a rodent lover anyway, so no cats in my house :) And if I ever try it, I would never want to have more than 2 cats.

10:02AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

The Publications Director at the museum where I work has 10 cats. In fact, she has published a book about her experiences called The Cat Lady Chronicles. She is so committed to their welfare that her vet actually makes house calls. She also owns a garage apartment on their property where some of the cats are housed. So more than five is a totally arbitrary number.

8:54PM PDT on Apr 25, 2014

I have 5 cats who get along well. Started with two that had previously lived together and added one more at a time over a period of about two to three years to the current total. First two came spayed and the last three were neutered (2) and spayed (1) by my vet. Once a year I pack up all 5 and go to the vet for their check-ups and shots. Only one cat despises the trip and yowls up a storm. The rest are well behaved. I changed them to a wet food diet and the two who were overweight are normal weight now while all their coats are glossy and sleek. They are a mixed colour and breed bunch but they all get along well (even sleep with my two house bunnies;also fixed). It is expensive to properly care for all my friends and well worth it. They also live with an African grey parrot and have never been aggressive to her but she is older and was here first. And they ignore the dog as if she doesn't exist. All in all a great bunch.

3:19AM PDT on Apr 25, 2014

Five is an arbitrary number. I agree with others here that keeping the cats healthy and happy is the important thing. Two or three cats may be too many for a small apartment. I had five cats until the stray tabby showed up at my back door. He needed a home, so I took him in. The next day I took him in to have him neutered, vet checked, and vaccinated. Having five healthy altered cats makes me a cat lover, but taking in a stray and having six healthy altered cats suddenly makes me a disgusting cat hoarder? C'mon!

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

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