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How many is too many?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
We took in two lovely stray cats a few days ago. We already have 8 cats; my Mom is going to take one of my tom's when her terminally ill dog passes away, so we'll be down to 7 in a few months.

My question is, how many cats is TOO many, for the cats sake?

We have a pretty big house, it's spread-out, a lot of nooks and crannies which the cats like. We also have a house full of cat people here.

My dilemma is that two of the males I already have occasionally spray in a few places, and the two strays are both toms. One of the stray toms is a dominant cat, not obnoxious, but a dominant personality. The strays are both probably under a year old.

All the local shelters are at capacity, (the no-kill ones that we are comfortable with) and we are short of money. I am planning to get them tested tomorrow to make sure they're free of feline leukemia and AIDS, and I have a tentative appt. for one of them to be neutered and get his shots Wednesday when our mobile, low-cost neutering clinic is nearby; they had one appt. left.

Am I taking too much of a risk to try to keep these boys? The two dominant toms I already have are our only indoor/outdoor cats, there is no way to keep either of them in. (Both are neutered.) Am I risking more spraying if I try to keep them? Any advice would be appreciated. I want to do the best thing by all of these cats, the strays as well as our resident cats, which I am committed to.

The second question I have is since I have 2 cats with feline herpes, am I risking the two strays getting that also?

Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 22
As long as you have enough space and the cats seem comfortable, I think it's ok. Giving you square footage would be sort of arbitrary...I have 450 sq. feet and 2 cats and they are fine...I just keep it super clean.

As far as the risk with the toms, I'd be worried that without being neutered, they'd get aggressive with one another. Katie (TNR1) gives most excellent advice on free and low-cost spay and neuter clinics all over the states, so I'm sure she'll be by. Otherwise, you can probably PM her and ask her for that info. I'd love to be able to give it to you, but I just don't have it.
post #3 of 22
My apartment is 690 square feet, with 2 kitties and sometimes I wish it was a little bigger. I'm not sure how comparable that is to your living situation, but overcrowding can cause stress in animals. I'm not sure how big your home is, but it's probably ok if everyone is getting along and has enough room to run around. Also, your 2 cats with feline herpes may shed the virus and infect the 2 strays. You should probably keep the strays isolated until they get all their shots (though they may still be susceptible to the virus).
post #4 of 22
When I was young I heard one bedroom per cat ... I know think one room per cat ... I have 8 rooms in my house so 8 cats... I have two and the third will arrive in a few weeks...
post #5 of 22
I've had up to 7 cats, 2 dogs, 9 guinea pigs, 3 prairie dogs, 2 mice, frogs and a hamster.

We had a pretty big house, and the cats had their own room. It depends on you, and the cats. As long as they all get along, you can afford the vet bills, and they all get attention - you should be fine. The dogs loved the cats and would wash them.

I would keep the new guys segregated until you can get them to the vet. Although they are most likely healthy - you never know. Being safe is better than being sorry later. Neutering will cut down on the spraying, it should go away pretty soon after that. Also mulitple litter boxes will help.
post #6 of 22
I also heard the one room per cat. I have 7 rooms and 6 cats but I also have a large dog so I think I am at my capacity. One of my cats was abandoned so I am looking for a home for it. But I did add an enclosure off a window this year not sure if that counts as a room or not. It is not open for the cats during this yucky winter weather tho.
post #7 of 22
Square footage is not the only consideration here - you can have a huge house and not have room for cats that decide they are going to actively compete with each other all the time. You can always build up (cat trees and perches) to help give them all the personal space they need.

I think what is more important is how much time do you have to devote to all the cats. As my husband puts it, if you can't spend one on one quality time with each of them each day, you probably have too many cats.

Even if you can spend time with each, you may not be able to prevent the wars between the cats. The worst wars that I've had are between females, not males as you would expect. In their natural environment, males will form bachelor groups and related females form their own prides. I've noticed over the years that I have more luck bringing unrelated males together in my house than unrelated females.

With that said, you need to see if the cats adjust to each other. With each new cat you introduce, you are risking ongoing turf wars. If 2 of them spray already, chances are that the 2 of them, and possibly the new ones will continue to spray. You reach a point that all the Feliway, attention, or separation in the world isn't going to stop the behavior. At that point you are over limit.

There are no easy answers to your question. I live with 9 males and 2 females with 2 dogs. There are times when I've had a long day at work and am simply too tired to give them the attention they need. Look inwards and ask yourself honestly if you have the time to give to 2 more with all the potential chaos they could bring to your household.

If the no-kills are full, ask if you can get them into their programs but you become the foster mom for them. Sometimes they will open up space during their adoption times for cats but can't take them in because there are no foster spaces available to them.
post #8 of 22
That's a hard question to really answer as there are so many variables. For me, I limited it to 6 adult cats as they were rexes and that breed is very people oriented and you need to be able to give plenty of attention to each.

Neutered and unneutered adult males will fight, so bringing in 2 more may upset the entire household and cause the resident cats to mark territory (YES spayed/neutered cats will do it if threatened) or more fighting between them.

Cats are not like dogs (in a pack sense) and the smaller amount you have together, the less problems you will have.

I'd work on finding a home for the 2 new ones rather then keep them and have more problems with your cats in the house now. Sometimes if you start something you may not be able to correct it later (like spraying).
post #9 of 22
How many can you afford to feed and provide vet care for? How many do you have time to clean up after?

That is your answer.

As far as space goes, I think it is definitely less of a concern than it is made out to be. For cats, vertical space counts too. I had 8 in a large-ish studio apartment (not that I would actually recommend this) and they were fine because I had a bunk bed and lots of shelves. This created more space for them and everyone was able to have their own spot.
post #10 of 22
When I first moved here, I had 4 cats, with no intention of getting any more, but I knew I wanted a dog. Then I got Rain. Then Elessar came along and I couldn't resist. I thought I had too many when I just had 5 cats and one dog, but everyone seemed happy and healthy....then came Bob, then came Timmy....I thought 5 cats and 1 dog was pushing the space/aggravation/territoial behavior issue, but my neighbor actually threw Bob into the fray (he was a stray we trapped and planned on rehoming but I fell in love with him ) I mean she didn't separate them or anything, and Bob was about 6 years old. She did it while I was on vacation and by the time I was back, he was pretty much used to it and them to him. Timmy was feral so he hid for 6 months after I brought him upstairs from the basement into my house, to come out and eat and go potty at night but gradually came out more and more. Then came Pedro... He chases them once in a while but they tolerate him. I am EXTREMELY lucky that everyone gets along, but I have no desire to push my luck any more. (with the exception of a polydactyl calico! ) Not to mention, I can afford these, and luckily I get FREE vet care at my job, but it's getting tight with all the food/litter/etc. I have to buy. But my animals will eat before I do. I won't buy low cost/low quality food, and am actually upgrading their food as I learn more and more from you guys! If I ever felt like I couldn't afford my cats and support their health and well being, I'd simply get another job! As far as having to move or something, I'd only look for for somewhere that would accept my 2 dogs
Oh, and as far as space goes, I just make sure I don't have a lot of clutter lying around. That makes it feel less crowded with such a large amount of animals, and I make sure there's lots of cat beds and hidden sleep/hide areas like in my closets and stuff. To come in my house, you wouldn't know I had 9 animals...until you started looking around, opening closet doors and looking behind things to see all the little cozy places I've made up for them. They all feel like they have their own space, and if they want a spot that's already taken, there's plenty more to choose from! Hidden places, that's the key....If you came in and saw 20 cats beds and bowls and stuff just laying around, it might be a little overwhelming!
post #11 of 22
I have 4 now and that's my absolute limit!! Unless someone else shares litterbox duties, but cleaning 5 boxes out is a lot, plus bills can get expensive, esp with one that has a chronic illness, and others can get sniffles.
post #12 of 22
I had a moment of insane weakness and have 3. The reason it was insane weakness is that my townhouse bylaws state we can only have two pets per house. However, Xena only gets in the window in back which is never seen by anyone. Eowyn and Trjegul are seen out front so it only looks like I have two. And its not like I ever take them to the vet all at once. I have a three bedroom townhome so there's plenty of room but I'm not well so three is pushing the limits of what I can care for. I was hoping for someone who would cuddle with Xena like her sister Misty (who died of congestive heart failure) did but so far it seems like no luck. They play together but they don't really sleep together.
post #13 of 22
We now have 5 cats in a two story house. The 5th one is Tuffy who was a very sick stray who found me while we were camping in the park of our town. I had planned on getting him better and finding him a good home. But he has been a tough one to get healthy, after almost 5 months of different antibiotic treatments I think we have him all fixed up. He picked me out of the whole campground for some reason and totaly trusted me right away and I have grown real close to him so he is staying with us.

Anyway my point is I think they all are doing good together, we also have a 75lb black lab/sheperd female dog, I think she has more problems with all the cats than the cats with each other. She gets upset if I play with the cats and she don't get enough attention. She grew up in the house and at the time we only had Missy, or old lady kitty who is going on 18 yrs old so the dog has always been around cats and has no problems with them and the cats all play with the dog just like she is a huge black cat lol.

Our cats are 3 males, 2 are fixed and Tuffy is going to be soon now that all the infection is out of him and 2 females, both also fixed. 3 of the cats are pretty young yet 1 to 2 years old. Missy is almost 18 and still in great shape and Tuffy we don't know how old he is, The vet tech guessed about 3 or 4 by his teeth.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everybody- here is the latest.

We have an appointment for a low-cost neutering for both boys, the soonest we could get was in a couple of weeks.

My Mom is going to take one of my tom cats, and POSSIBLY the one who is the sprayer-- the original cat she is taking is the only cat the sprayer, Felix, likes, they were kittens together. He only sprays when he's around our other tom, Smitty, that he doesn't like.

Sound like a plan? We are going to try to keep the two white boys, who are tentively named Jupiter and Sebastian. They are still isolated, doing very well, and getting more comfortable every day.

I spent yesterday driving all over Columbus, talking to no-kill shelters, and no one can take them. "Call us back in two weeks." Was the best I got.
Well, when my Mom mentioned she might like to take both of my kitties, we thought we could give the strays a try.

Any advice? Felix never sprayed until we over-crowded him with Smitty, another abandoned kitten. Felix and Hobbes, the cats my Mom wants, groom each other, and act like kittens together, at age 5. We thought we could try this, and take Felix back if he sprays there. They have no other cats.
post #15 of 22
Hello, and first thing...Thank you so much for helping all these kitties. You are great person, and Im sure the kitties love you for that.

Anyhow, I dont know a whole lot about spraying and all that, and how many kitties is too many. I would just personally think 10 kitties in a house, would be the most a person should have to handle. So 8 kitties, is up there on my scale, but not at the top. Especially since you have a big house, I think you are ok.

I just wanted to add that you should invest in some "comfort zone" diffusers, or some feliway spray. It helps tremendously in multiple cat houses, and it is supposed to help with cat peeing problems. I have one in my house, and it helped alot with introducing a new kitten into my home when I had a resident "top cat".

Here's a link, check it out, It may be very helpful...In your case, I would get 3 or 4 of them, but they are a bit pricey, so think about it you know? Check it out, read about it. It may be the best thing you got.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks- I plan to order some Feliway. I'm not going to introduce the new boys to my resident cats until they are neutered and have their tests and shots, so I have a little time.
post #17 of 22
I used to have 3 cats and 2 birds. Then my son brought home 2 abandoned 3 week old kittens left under a porch. I kept 1 and my vets assistant kept one.I carried Neo around in a pouch, even at work, so I could feed him every hour. Neo at 6 weeks seemed healthy and happy and I had an incredible bond with him. At 7 weeks he just died. I was so devistated. So I now felt the need for another baby but I wasn't going to be devistated again so I started reserching purebreds. I decided I had to have a Munchkin. Then I found out how rare they are. My heart dropped. At my Dr.s office I ran into a lady and I told my story. It turns out she was breeding munchkins but was getting out of it and getting rid of her cats. I was overjoyed! My son, who refused to believe we should have another cat, and I went to this womans house so I could see what the adults look like because I was going to get a long haired baby that was still in the womb. A kitten attached himself to my son who said we had to have him. Enter Gohan. Three months later I got to bring my baby girl home, Kagome. SO I have 5 cats and 2 birds in a 2 bedroom apt. As unbelievable as it is, we could still fit more babies at my house. We use a short rubbermaid storage bin as a litter box and I only use everclean cat litter. You would never know I had 5 cats. They take turns sleeping on our laps, they all have thier own spot on the beds, and they are always happy. So how many cats are to many?
post #18 of 22
Heh. I asked that question a few years back! And got all the same answers you're getting here (which are great answers).

I had 4 cats at the time, and I took in 2 more older cats (Aged 14 & 13) because their previous owner didn't want them any more. So of course I'm a 6-cat household now.

I think, as long as you can "keep up with them" as far as cleaning the litter boxes, providing ENOUGH litterboxes, affording the right kind of food (good food; not cheapola cruddy stuff), provide & clean the water bowls daily, brush them, give them attention every day (brushing, loving & playing), and of course ---- have a way to afford emergency vet bills and routine visits --- then, go with as many cats as you are comfortable with.

I'm not talking about taking in 100 cats or anything; just make sure you can "handle it". Also the cats getting along with each other is very important, too. I am lucky; my 2 newest additions just got along swimmingly with the other 4, and even the Alpha male from my house & the Alpha from the 'old' house get along good.

Square footage is important, as well as, making sure they have their own safe spots; spots they can go to hide if they want. Certain cats like to be alone and sort of stake out their areas in a home. Example, KC stakes out underneath my bed; Jess stakes out the corner in the dining room behind the big fluffy plant. Snickers stakes out the kitchen cushions. No one really intrudes on the other's space.

Also vertical space is a great idea --- window ledges that you can put those cat window seats on, floor to ceiling springmounted cat trees, boxes placed in each room (playing & sleeping). Even little things like leaving closet doors open so the kits can get in there & make their own space, is a fine idea, for making maximum use of your household.

I have a 2 story house with a basement... in it, 6 litter boxes, 5 water bowls. I don't feel overcrowded or overwhelmed one ioda. I'd feel lost without all 6 of my babies, matter of fact.

(but I do draw the line at 6...)
post #19 of 22
"One Can Never Have Too Many Cats!" I have this saying on my :censor::censor::censor::censor: door.

I have 11 indoor cats and all are well cared for and visit the vet when they need to go. They eat better than I do (lol)

I didn't mean to have so many, but it just worked out that way.

I have to keep litter boxes really clean and I have one LARGE little box which is actually a kid's size plastic swimming pool and the cats LOVE it!!

Good Luck with your fur babies
post #20 of 22
How many all depends on the person who has them. I think space is an issue, but more so is how devoted to cleaning a person is, and financial ability to provide minimum care. (Minimum care depends on the person, but what I want for my cats is quality diet, quality litter & annual quality vet care. True minimum is food, water, litter & a minimum of emergancy vet trips) I have 4 cats in a 400 sq. foot apartment & I have to say I'm pushing it on the space issue. Absolutely no more will fit into my apartment, but at this point no one goes outside the box.
post #21 of 22
is what I found out real quick. I had 5 and added a rescue and my 5 clearly said "NO!"
There was fighting and spraying and general unhappiness.
When the rescue cat was taken to another foster home everything negative stopped.
5 happy kitties now live here as before.
post #22 of 22
I think too many is when the quality of life for existing cats starts to suffer (and of course when you can't afford to care for them all). Cats need space to get away from each other if they wish as you can't guarantee they will get on with each other, and even cats who get need to be able to have their own space. If you have too many there can be a constant low level of stress which isn't good for the cats and may result in behavoural problems such as sparaying/urinating outside the litter tray.
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