How many cats are too many (known as cat hoarding)? Is there a number at which you are no longer just a cat person, but rather a cat hoarder? Is there a number at which the cats no longer have a good quality of life? Is too many cats for one person the same number as too many cats for another?
The answer is “it depends”. What does it depend on? As a responsible cat parent, you have three major categories of resources to offer your cat:
Whether or not you have too many cats depends on your specific responses to each of those factors. So, in effect, there is no single numerical answer for everyone when it comes to the right number of cats to include in your family. One size does not fit all. Each individual person or household must decide what their resources are, and those will determine how many cats are too many cats. For you, two cats might be too many. For your best friend, five cats might not be enough.
First, how much time do you have to offer to your cat(s)? If you are going to have cats, you need time to take care of them, to bond with them, to play with them, and to clean up after them. Time does not just mean that you change the litter box once a week. Time does not mean that you play with them once or twice a month. So – what does “time” mean?
Having enough time means you have time to do the following for EACH cat every day:
- Feed them and change their water daily.
- Scoop litter daily; change it weekly.
- Spend 30-50 minutes playing with your cat every day. 20 minutes per cat is a good rule of thumb. If you have three cats, you’ll need an hour of play time available. If the best you can do is set aside 20 minutes total per day for play, then two cats would be too much for you.
- Time to take each cat to the vet once a year and anytime he or she becomes ill.
- Time to shop for food, toys, litter supplies and anything else they need.
- Time to groom them, or get them groomed, depending upon their breed and amount of hair.
So how much money do you need per cat? Well some of that depends on where you live, but there are certain common items you must be prepared to pay for:
- Vet bill for annual immunizations
- Vet bills for emergencies
- Litter and supplies
Finally, you need the right amount of space to care for each cat. How much space per cat? There isn’t necessarily a specific amount of square feet, but we all know we can’t keep 20 cats in a one-bedroom apartment. You need enough space to accommodate the following items for every cat:
- Food and water area, away from litter boxes
- Toy storage
- Play area
- Bed and sleeping area
- Litter box and supplies