Do you ever worry about turning into the crazy cat lady? Do you wonder if the cats will simply start showing up at your door once you’re over 30? You’ve seen the cat lady memes, the Halloween costumes, and the internet stories. They sure are funny, but there is a sad truth behind them. Lonely people collecting pets to make themselves feel better seems to be a shared experience. But in all seriousness, how many pets is too many?
You have too many pets if you cannot feed them, train them, keep their living area clean, afford veterinary care, have enough space, or have the time to love them all well. You need to find the right balance of pets for your life.
In this article, we’ll look at how many pets are simply too many. Then, we’ll talk about all that pets need to have a good life, how many pets you should have in an apartment, and what to do if you simply have too many pets. But first, let’s look at the difference between rescuing and hoarding pets.
Rescuing Verses Hoarding
There is a big difference between being an animal rescuer and an animal hoarder. Both kinds of people love their animals immensely! Unfortunately, hoarders take on more pets than they can handle well, while rescuers can handle unwanted pets. If you think you might have too many pets, consider this…
You might be a pet hoarder if:
You lost track of how many animals you have. If you have more animals than you can count, you definitely have too many pets.
Your house stinks. If your home smells terrible because you can’t control the animal smells, you have too many pets.
Your animals look skinny. If your animals are too lean, you might not be feeding them all enough.
Your animals keep getting sick. If your animals are sick a lot, it could be because you have too many!
You can’t keep your house and yard clean. They say cleanliness is next to godliness; I don’t know if that’s actually true, but you definitely need to be able to keep your house and your yard clean (or at least clean enough).
There are animals everywhere you look. But, if a pet takes every spot in your house, you might have too many pets!
You’re always buying pet food. But, if your animals are eating you out of your house and home, maybe you have more animals than you should.
You can’t afford to take care of all of your animals properly. If you can’t provide enough care for all of your animals, maybe there are too many.
You have a good heart, but you just have too many animals. If you just can’t say to know to an animal, you have a good heart, but you might have more heart than you have resources. You might be a hoarder, not a rescuer.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of animals but they are well-cared for and maybe even moving to new homes, you might be an animal rescuer.
You might be an animal rescuer if…
You have a space for every animal you care for.
You have the financial resources to provide food, water, shelter, pets, and vet care for every animal in your care.
You have people resources to cover for you when you go on vacation.
You have great systems for cleaning up after all of the animals.
You are happy to rehabilitate – and pass on- the animals you care for daily.
A true rescuer of animals knows how many animals they can handle at a time. You may have a good heart and mean well, but if you can’t provide everything your pets need, you’re a hoarder rather than a rescuer.
Rescuers are able to provide food, shelter, veterinary care, space for playing and sleeping, training, cleanliness, and of course, love.
Pet Hoarding Laws
Most states in the US do not have specific pet hoarding laws, although some municipalities do. However, there are laws, including local ordinances, that cover neglect and cruelty to animals. So if you do find yourself hoarding animals or simply have too many pets than you can adequately take care of, you could face legal trouble if they aren’t cared for well.
Before you take on any new pets, you need to decide if you already have too many pets or if you have room in your heart – and home – for more. Think about all of the things that pets need and if you can provide them.
What Do Pets Need?
Of course, every animal needs a different amount of space. A hamster only needs a small cage, while a larger, high-energy dog like a Labrador retriever needs lots of room to run and play. For every animal you have, you need to make sure you have enough space for them to eat, play, and sleep without having to fight for their own territory.
An average-sized dog probably needs about 2500 square feet of space in your yard to roam. A cat, on the other hand, needs about 18 square feet of space per cat. So if you have five cats, you need 90 square feet JUST for the kitties!
If you don’t have enough space for one pet, you shouldn’t have two! If you aren’t sure, ask your local shelter for help. For example, when I wanted to adopt a miniature donkey, the shelter was able to look at my land and tell me I just didn’t have a big enough pen to support his needs. So the sweet, lovable donkey went to a home with just the right of space for his needs.
It’s essential to keep your home clean – not only for your pets but for you, too. Pets, of course, have fur which gets on you, your clothes, your furniture, and pretty much everywhere else. In addition, they have their bathroom needs, and toys, and food…. All of which can add up to a big mess!
You need to be able to clean up after your pets. If you can’t, maybe you’ve just got too many pets!
Animal feces, dander, and urine can cause an unhealthy environment if it builds up, so don’t have more animals than you can clean up after. According to studyfinds.org, pet owners spend over 800 hours per year cleaning up after their furry friends. The more furbabies you have, the more cleaning you’ll need to do. If you don’t like to clean up after two dogs, you shouldn’t have three or more.
Animals need to go to the doctor, too. And all of their vet visits can get pricey! Do you have the time and money it takes to provide all the care your animals need?
Pets are undoubtedly rewarding, but they require our time, too. If you are too busy with work, school, or hobbies, you might have more pets than you have time for.
You might love your animals, but they still need to be trained. Are you able to provide the consistent training that all of your pets need? Will you be able to teach each one proper behavior?
Food and Water
Of course, your pets need food and water, but can you give them enough?
What if you live in an apartment?
If you live in an apartment, you’ll have to consider if your apartment allows pets. If the answer is no, then any number of pets is just too many. However, some apartments will allow you to have two cats, a small dog, or at least a fish.
If you live in an apartment, you’ll need to consider the noise of your pets, too. For example, if you have dogs, will their barking bother your neighbors? If so, even one dog is just too too many, and maybe you should stick to cats.
The other tricky part of owning pets in an apartment is taking them outside for a walk. If you live on the second floor or higher, you can’t just let your dog out. You need to take it down the steps (or elevator, as the case me be), and you may have to go as far as a dog park. And you’ll most likely have to carry a bag to scoop the puppy poop, too. The more pups you have, the more poop you’ll have to carry to the trash.
What if you are a single person?
If you are a single person, the joys and struggles of pet ownership belong only to you. However, you need to ask yourself, how many pets can you consistently care for without the help of someone else?
Can you walk more than one dog at a time? How many cans of cat food will you have to open at one time? Are there more fish tanks than you can clean? More litter than you can scoop? If so, you might have too many pets for a single person.
The cost of Pet ownership
You should only have as many pets as you can afford. According to thesprucepets.com, it can cost anywhere between $800 and $4300 per year per pet when you add up the cost of food, vet visits, and other pet needs. Can you afford this? If there’s room in your budget for that much per pet, you may not have too many pets.
What should you do if you’re overwhelmed with too many pets?
If you love animals, it is pretty easy to acquire too many. Free kittens, lost dogs, hamsters that are no longer loved – they are all out there for you to find. But are you going to be able to give them all a good quality of life? If you can’t, you might be getting overwhelmed.
If you find you can’t care for all of your animals properly, you may be overwhelmed with too many pets. But there is help.
Many resources can help you find better homes for your animals, especially if you find yourself becoming a pet hoarder with too many pets!
If you have the time and the energy, you can rehome some of your pets by yourself. Spread the word through friends and family that you have pets that need a loving home, and you might find plenty of support to help you!
If that doesn’t work, you can also call for help. For example, you might try your local veterinarian, ASPCA, or other local animal shelters. Don’t just let pets loose to roam free – they don’t have the ability to care for themselves. They need people to help them.
If you live in Berks County, Pennsylvania, you can call the Animal Rescue League. They’ll pick up animals that you can no longer care for, nurse them to health if needed, and help them find new homes. Check out www.berksarl.org for more information.
How many pets is too many?
There are no hard and fast rules which say how many pets are just too many pets for you to have. Instead, you need to consider the well-being of your future pet and you carefully! Every pet should bring you joy over and above the amount of work required. If the burden gets too heavy, you just won’t enjoy your pets anymore.