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Can You Have Too Many Cats?

You may hear of the occasional crazy “hoarder” revealed on the news ó people with underlying mental disorders who live with a hundred cats hidden in their house (hopefully nowhere near your neighborhood). Sadly for the cats, the m.o. of your cat lovin’, urine-smelling, disheveled animal hoarder is quite sad. Most hoarders are unmarried and live alone (and you thought it was hard to find a date with just two catsÖ). Hoarders also come from all different socioeconomic backgrounds and typically are over sixty years of age. To top it off, over three-fourths of hoarders are females, once again giving the single white female a bad rap. Some more scary numbers?

  • In 69% percent of hoarding cases, animal urine and feces was found accumulated in living areas.
  • More than one in four (> 25%) of hoardersí beds are soiled with animal feces.
  • 80% of reported cases had dead or sick animals present in the house.
  • 60% of hoarders didnít acknowledge that they had dead or sick animals in the house.
  • Over 65% of hoarding cases involve cats (although some also hoard small dogs and rabbits).

While most hoarders donít read my blog, my general advice to†any cat owner is this: I usually recommend no more than four to five cats total. Sometimes I offend my fellow veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and friends when I tell them my cut-off for crazy is six cats. After that, I think itís medically unhealthy.

If this pisses you off, Iím sorry, but Iím looking out for the welfare of the cats and dogs here. Try finding a veterinarian who has that many. Itís rare — we know that having this many cats can result in severe behavioral problems. Of course, if you ask ten different vets, you may get ten different answers. That said, until those nine other vets write an opinionated blog about it, I still recommend no more than four or five cats per household.

So whatís the problem with having so many cats? Animal behavior specialists often see more problems in multicat households. Having too many cats may result in urination problems (i.e., not in the litter box!), intercat fighting and attacking, and difficulty in monitoring general health. For example, checking the litter box to see if one cat has a urinary tract infection is more difficult when you have six cats.

So how many cats should you get? I have to say that I initially enjoyed having a one cat household. That is, until I experienced a†two-cat household. Now Iím a firm believer in having two cats together. Seamus, my 13-year old, grey and white tabby, was more friendly and affectionate to humans (more to the point ó me!) as an only child. When I adopted Echo (who sadly, passed away in April from severe heart disease), I got less “loving” from Seamus. He wanted to spend all his time playing with Echo instead. Echo and Seamus played together (constantly), slept together, wrestled together, and loved each other up. Once Seamus and Echo befriended each other, I was officially demoted to the source of food and to litter box duty. Seamusí quality of life, social skills, and exercise level definitely improved while he had Echo in his life. After seeing this, I do firmly believe that cats do benefit from having a companion to play with. *Note, a companion or two ó†not six or one hundred.

Iíve been fortunate to have cats that get along (despite the first few tumultuous days of hissing and cat introductions). For that reason, yes, I support having afew feline friends together.

Do you have any long-term cat companions who hate each other? What behavioral problems have you noticed?

Should I Keep My Cat Indoors?
Test Your Cat Knowledge
Cat Behavior 101 (Slideshow)

How Many Cats Are Too Many? originally appeared on

Read more: Animal Rights, Behavior & Communication, Cats, Everyday Pet Care, Pet Health, Pets, Safety, , ,

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Nicolas, selected from petMD

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


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2:58AM PST on Dec 21, 2014

Cats are wonderful company,only have one he is like a baby, follows me everywhere. Thanks for sharing

12:49AM PST on Dec 18, 2014

Thank you for posting.

3:29AM PST on Dec 8, 2014

Thank you

2:19AM PST on Dec 7, 2014

Haha Roger P, was curious enough to read the link. Pretty funny. Fortunately I live in sunny Queensland where I don't need to use any heating at all! Love cats, but one or 2 would do me.

11:51PM PST on Dec 5, 2014

Too many cats? Why not use them to help heat your home?

6:12AM PST on Nov 17, 2014

We usually have 3-5 cats & 1 or 2 dogs. They all get along fine, although some form special friendships, but the cats have access to the outdoors so they can find their own space if they want to. I think the numbers have to kept reasonably small in order to give each individual the care & attention they need. It's too easy to lose sight of a face in the crowd.

11:36AM PST on Nov 16, 2014

Thanks for sharing

4:48PM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

Interesting, thank you.

4:47PM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

Interesting, thank you.

1:14PM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

I have four cats. Two came with my spouse when we got married and the other two were rescued. I am home with them almost all the time. They all get along pretty well.

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