How Many Cats Is Too Many?

There are many things to consider when owning more than two cats. After reading this I assure you, you will never end up being the crazy cat lady of your neighborhood. Going beyond a pair you have to really take your living space, litter boxes, accessible windows, and outdoor space into consideration. Here are three ways to help you decide how many cats is just too many.

One Cat per Bedroom

This is a basic rule that will never get you in trouble with over occupying your space. If you have a one-bedroom home, one cat is plenty but you can go up to two without being overcrowded. For a two-bedroom, it is two cats, for three bedrooms, three cats, I am sure you get the idea here.

Single, Double, And Two-Story Living

With the addition of floors, you can add more cats. A single floor living space needs to follow the above ruling exactly. A ranch which is two floors (basement and first floor) can add in an extra cat beyond the bedroom number so long as the basement space is clean and livable. A two-story home generally has 2 floors and a basement space. Again, you can add an extra cat for the upstairs and another if the basement is clean and livable.

Make sure to also provide your cats with everything they need to be happy and healthy, see: Keeping an Indoor Cat Happy

Square Footage

This is a very basic guideline with a square footage of a space. Anything under 1000 should not have more than 2 cats. For every 500 square feet after 1000, you can add one cat. So a home that is 1500 square feet, you can usually house 3 cats comfortably. A home that is 2000 can be fitting for 4 cats.

Things to also consider:

  • Dogs: If your home also occupies dogs, for every dog you have to minus 1 or 2 cats to the rules above.
  • Children: If you have children sharing one bedroom, minus 1 cat for this as well.
  • Litter Boxes: One box is enough for 2 cats, BUT you will want an extra litter box for every cat after that. So owning 4 cats, you will want a minimum of 3 boxes.

NOTE: Outdoor enclosures will allow for more cats under one home as it doubles as a livable/play area for your cat. Depending on the size, you can have as many as 3 more cats under one roof.

Below is a basic chart to show you how many cats per bedroom, per livable floor space you can have under one roof as a basic guideline. Outside of this, individual cat personalities will greatly play a role in how many cats can be in one home. Some cats are more forgiving of space, whilst others are more territorial.

How Many Cats Can I Own Legally?

You may be wondering how many cats you can own by law and unfortunately, there is not a single guideline or rule on this. The legal limitations on cat ownership vary from state to state and country to country. Most states in the US will allow you to own up to 5 or 6 cats (and up to 3 dogs). These laws are not heavily regulated in many areas which are unfortunately why there are still many hoarding issues in the country.  If you want to know the legal number of cats you can own in your area, you will have to contact your county/district.

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21 thoughts on “How Many Cats Is Too Many?”

  1. A family member of mines’ cats got pregnant by “accident “. She now wants to keep the kitten. Was it wrong for me to tell her she has too much going on in her apartment for another cat. She has a two bedroom apartment, herself and husband, 2 loud kids, 2 dogs, and the 2 parent cats. I took an animal care course a long time ago so I was taught that it’s stressful for animals to not have their own space. She’s not utilizing vertical space rn. One cat has already begun spraying. The mother cat has been so stressed out she’s been leaving the kitten in random places cuz she’s trying to find it a safe quiet spot. Her labor was even more sad. She literally could not find a safe spot to have the baby. I feel bad for telling her she needs to let the kitten go because she has too much going on. Am I wrong?

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Vivian. Based on what you said, I would have likely said the same thing. A two-bedroom apartment really isn’t enough for the wife, husband, and two kids let alone the dogs and cats. Spraying is likely to happen regardless of stress or space if the female/male is intact as the male will be spraying to keep other males away and the female will spray to attract them. The fact that she doesn’t have a proper nest and is leaving the kitten all over the place is not good either. It is a tough situation but being honest and upfront is a good thing. Maybe try and help her find a home for the kitten? I know it can be hard to part with them but once the kitten is fully weaned (usually around 3 months), it is likely for the best.

      Reply
  2. Ok I’m a bit worried about my boyfriend he has a 3bed 2bath house about 1500sqft, and a small fenced in back yard. He already has 4 cats (1male). He just came back from visiting his mom in Wyoming and brought 4 female kittens that his mother found under her house and was caring for them. The idea was he would foster them till he could find good homes for him, but now he’s saying he wants to keep him. I’m not a cat person but I’m thinking 8 is rather excessive. Even his neighbor was telling him it was too much. Any advice

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Dawn. Considering the cost alone, I would say that is too much. While some cats can love in small packs and be happy, some so not like sharing space with a lot of other cats, some don’t like sharing space with even one other cat. They are not pack oriented and this can turn into behavioral problems very fast. This is not to say you can’t have 8 or even 10 cats in that space, I just wouldn’t advise it. I would maybe suggest he finds 3 of the kittens homes and only keeps one, maybe two at most. It is hard to unbond with kittens but if he considers their happiness, it may help.

      Reply
  3. My girlfriend has 3 cats. We want to adopt a last one. We live in a basement appartment with 1 bedroom, 1 kitchen and 2 living rooms. The 3 cats are happy together and we plan on moving to a bigger appartment .

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  4. Also we want to have at least one kid in the next couple of years. Cats are both 4 years old. Mine is male his is female. Dog is male. Everyone spayed/neutered.

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  5. I have a dog and a cat. My boyfriend wants to move in with us and bring his cat. I live in a 2 story house with a nice basement and a nice screened in back patio. The house is only 1,000 square feet. My dog chases my cat and gets jealous of my cat. So my cat hides a lot. My boyfriend wants the two cats and dog to sleep in our room. What do you think?

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Tarah. If the cats get along and the dog is okay with everything, it should be okay given that you have two-story living and a basement. This is a guideline but certainly not a one size fits all.

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  6. I have a full basement with 2 rooms , the next level is 2 bedrooms and a bathroom, living area and kitchen, then upstairs is a whole attic completely made into my teenage sons room. We have 7 cats and 2 kittens. I clean 11 litterboxes twice a day. All my cats are spayed or neutered, microchiped and up to date on all shots..j guess you could say I am the crazy cat lady of my town.

    Reply
  7. A lady around the block from me has 37 cats and 2 dogs and none of the pets ever come out. write to whomever you like her name is Chris and her address ________ I believe this is horrible for the animals and for her and she isnt very nice and I hear her yell all the time. The smell that comes from her house is nauseating when she opens her windows, fortunately she has central air but not fortunate for the animals. I see animal control there often and no animals are ever taken. Is this acceptable

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  8. I have 2 cats and thinking about keeping my 2 kittens as well I have a. 3 story 6 bedroim house I think I have plenty space…

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  9. I have a neighbor & she has 12 to 14 cats in a 600 square feet cottage, plus 2 large dogs. She is always taking one to the vet. I truly believe she is a hoarder but when you talk to her about it she will get weepy & say they are her family. She is a hoarder of material things too. I have no idea what to do at this point. ……….HELP!!!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Kene. It is hard to say without knowing the exact situation. If you know of any family she has, maybe contact them first with your concerns to see if they can step in. Poor living conditions are not only bad for the cats but for her as well.

      Reply
  10. My husband and I have had 4 in a large 2 bedroom, 2 floor condo/townhouse. We also have 1 1/2 bathrooms AND a big deck for the kitties….You can live quite comfy with them and did I mention, we have 2 teen sons 😉

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Melissa. Your space sounds like it is enough with the outdoor area and being 2 floors. As long as they are happy and active 🙂

      Reply
  11. I have three cats in a two bedroom 1000square foot apartment and they’re as happy as could be so I don’t think it’s so strict as long as you know if they’re happy and you take care of them as if they are your own children, that’s what I do.

    Reply
    • Some will do fine like that. This is just a basic guideline to avoid over-crowding and cat hording. You can also take into account window access and heights which they can reach. Most people will have 2 or 3 in an apartment and that is fine if you know what you are doing 🙂

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