How Many Cats Are Too Many?

how many cats are too many

The phrase “crazy cat lady” conjures up thoughts of old ladies surrounded by dozens of cats. That is not often the case, and because many of us have such deep and abiding love for pets, we might think, how many cats are too many?

One’s love of cats is as deep as it is wide.  Many men and woman have upwards of four cats within their home, often noting, “I have lots of cats, but not in a ‘crazy cat person’ kind of way.”

So, how many cats are too many? Well, “the more the merrier” might not always ring true.  First of all, you have to consider compatibility between cats.  Some cats prefer to be “only cats” while others enjoy lots of feline company.  According to, it typically boils down to nature vs nurture.


From a natural perspective, cats seem to be pretty self-sufficient, except when mating or mothering. The natural state of a cat is solitary, and any social interactions must usually be carefully orchestrated.

Why do cats tend to prefer solitude?  Well, there are naturally lone hunters, not pack hunters like dogs. A pack of cats chasing a single mouse probably wouldn’t get much to eat at the end of the kill. So, cats just go it alone.

When cats do congregate, such as at docksides or on farms, they learn to manage well together and cooperate with each other to raise their young.


From a nurturing perspective, at a young age, cats can be persuaded that nearly any creature can be a friend if they are exposed to them during the ages of two to seven weeks, the sensitive period of their development.

They can learn during this time that mice or doves should not be seen as prey. However, the mother cat must have the same attitude in order for this to be effective, as kittens learn by observation. If a cat is raised among friendly felines, he should successfully integrate into the company of other cats along the way. For a cat who dislikes other cats and may even have a phobia in that regard, just one may be the answer.

Managing Multi-Cat Households

Two or more cats living under one roof is doable, but adding cats to a stable hierarchy is akin to adding cards to an unstable house of cards. You might be successful, or it could come crashing down around you.

With luck, the magic number may be around 10. The more cats, the more potential for behavior problems, such as incidents with inappropriate urination.

A large group of cats can peacefully coexist but you have to know what you are doing. Provide ad lib dry food in bowls as well as ample wet food that is served two times a day.  Ensure that each cat has a little home of his own to which he can retreat.

When you add a new cat, separate that cat from the others
in a large crate until he is comfortable with them and vice versa. You could, with this method, have up to eight cats together in a large home.

Determining How Many Cats Are Too Many For You

Being a cat collector is indicative of obsessive-compulsive behavior and harmful to the cats. It becomes increasingly difficult to manage and properly care for all of them to maintain their health and happiness.

Determining the right number of cats for you boils down to:

  • What you can handle financially, physically and emotionally
  • What resident cats can handle based on socialization, environment and how you manage them

Before adding more cats to your household, take a moment to look at the issues above.  If you review them and can’t honestly say you’re able to cover adequately, don’t move forward.





Written by Ann Butenas

Ann Butenas

An internationally-recognized author and writer, Ann began her professional writing career at age 12 and began speaking while in college. She has been published thousands of times over the past three decades in all media forms, was former editor and publisher of KC Metro Woman magazine, and has also hosted three talk radio shows in the Kansas City area.

2 Responses to "How Many Cats Are Too Many?"

  1. Great article! With 6 cats, I have asked myself this question many times. And I’ve concluded that my magic number is 6! No more kitties here! lol. We have the perfect balance – everyone gets along and is well taken-care of, but I think that adding anymore would upset the balance. When we added our 6th cat last year, I was worried it would upset the balance, but it actually made it better! Before adding our 6th (Kylo Ren), we had 4 females and 2 males. One of the males (Sampson) is “alpha,” but the other (Caster) had always wanted to be. However, since Caster was the last one added to the family, he was at the bottom of the totem pole. He had finally decided he wanted to challenge Sampson, and the two had started fighting. We had to keep Sampson and Caster separated for a bit, which was terribly upsetting to me because we had gone years with no issues until that point. After finally getting that situation under control and back to normal, my husband surprised me with Kylo Ren on Valentine’s Day last year. I was worried that we might see more fighting, but having Kylo Ren has surprisingly made everything better. Now Caster has someone he is “the boss of,” so he is satisfied. Our kitty family of 6 has never been more peaceful or happy! But now… no more kitties! 🙂

    1. Pretty cool how that all worked out! Many times people’s intentions are good, and they take in large numbers of cats. I have one client that has around 9 cats at a time. All many to be able to track health, behavior, etc. She means well, but I think she would be better served to have fewer cats

Comments are closed.