How Many is Too Many Cats?

Just how many cats is too many in a household? Ask many a doting owner and the response will be ‘there’s no such thing as too many!’

So where to draw the line? How many cats are you allowed to home? Well, there’s no legal limit regarding cats per household. Not in the US anyway.

Recommended Numbers

But most experts agree that a single person or family can comfortably care for up to four and, in some cases, five felines.

This is provided that said owner has a reasonably spacious home along wiith enough feeding bowls and litter boxes.

But there are other factors to consider such as the amount of finances available, the temperament of the cats and the amount of time and energy an owner has to devote to the cats’ needs.

Health Issues

Ok, so assuming you’ve got sufficient financial resources as well as oodles of time, energy and affection, why shouldn’t you populate your abode with dozens and dozens of cats? Here’s why.

Unsanitary Conditions

In overcrowded settings, it can be challenging to maintain good hygiene and keep litter boxes clean.

Cats can also be fussy about litter box usage and may reject their box due to territorial feuds or because of stress.

This often leads our feline friends to use areas of the home as makeshift litter boxes, thus leading to unsanitary conditions.

In turn this can lead to kidney and bladder infections, bladder stones as well as urinary tract conditions.

Spread of Disease and Illness

Keep in mind too that when cats live in close proximity to each other, they can easily spread diseases.

These may include feline upper respiratory conditions, not to mention parasitic infections from fleas and worms.

Health Risks to Humans

Zoonotic diseases (transmittable to humans) can arise from having too many cats per household.

These include things like toxoplasmosis, cat scratch fever, rabies and ringworm.

Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite found in cat feces, while cat scratch fever is caught through scratches and bites from infected cats.

Ringworm is also transmittable to humans and is spread by direct contact with infected cats or their bedding.

Perhaps the most serious of these conditions is rabies – a serious infection caught through the saliva of animals or via a bite or scratch.

All of these conditions are transmitted by coming into contact with animals.

Unfortunately, it follows that the more cats you have, the greater the risk of contracting a Zoonotic disease.

Behavioral Issues

Behavioral issues often arise in multi-cat households. Given how territorial cats are, this is understandable.

Aggression and Territorial Behavior

When cats are forced to share a small living space, they tend to become defensive about what little territory they have. Aggression and fighting often follow.

Bear in mind that some cats just don’t get along. Like us humans, incompatibility can be a bit of a problem at times.

Feline relations may become further strained if the cats feel that they have to compete for essential resources such as food, water and sleeping areas.

Litter Box Problems

Installing a sufficient number of litter boxes is very important in multi-cat households.

The general rule of thumb is to have one litter box per cat, plus one extra.

Even if you follow this guideline and employ a regular cleaning regimen, territorial disputes may still surface.

As discussed here, litter boxes should be placed in low-traffic, quiet areas of you house. This isn’t so easy when you own numerous cats.

It’s also the case that some cats guard or monopolize litter boxes, making it difficult for the other felines to use them.

Stress and Anxiety

It should be of little surprise that some of the problems already mentioned can lead to stress for a cat. It’s stressful even writing about the topic!

Cats are, after all, solitary animals who prefer their own space.

Thus, territorial challenges, insufficient access to food, water, a litter box or resting place can all take their toll.

Stress and anxiety often result, manifesting in aggressive or destructive behavior, such as urine marking, furniture scratching and hiding.

The Problem of Animal Hoarding

As mentioned, many owners keep multiple cats without any problems whatsoever. And being the keeper of numerous cats isn’t usually indicative of a problem.

Yet, there are cases in which owning an enormous family of felines suggests that the individual may be suffering from an issue known as animal hoarding.

Animal hoarding basically involves the accumulation of a large number of animals, often far beyond what can be realistically cared for

It’s a complicated problem that can have negative consequences for both the animals and owners.

Studies have found that 65% of all pet hording cases involve cats, possibly because they’re easier to keep in large numbers than other animals.

Potentially, the animals in question will suffer from a range of health problems, as well as neglect while the owners themselves may be put at risk due to the spread of Zooatic disease.

Fortunately, education and counselling is widely available for people with animal hoarding tendencies. See the links below:

Help and Support – Links

ADAA – Animal Hoarding Help

ASPCA – Animal Hoarding Support

Animal Humane Society – How You Can Help

Finding New Homes for Your Cats

If you’re concerned about the number of cats in your care, the re-homing option might be worth considering, painful as it may be.

To make sure they go to a good home, you could reach out to friends, family or colleagues looking to adopt a cat.

They may also know someone who is looking for a new pet.

There are also many websites dedicated to pet adoption. Some of the most trusted, well-established services include:

Adopt a Pet

Cat Adoption Team

Meow Cat Rescue


You could also contact local shelters and rescues, many of which have waiting lists of people looking to adopt cats.

Think about reaching out to these organizations to see if they can help you find a new home for your cat.

They may also be able to provide resources and advice on how to re-home your pet.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the decision of how many cats is too many is a personal one that will depend on the specific circumstances of your household.

We should point out that the majority of owners who run multi-cat households aren’t necessarily hoarders!

Regardless, it’s important to consider the needs and welfare of the cats, as well as your ability to provide adequate care and attention to each animal.

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