It’s that time again.
The time we start thinking about the best present for our loved ones, especially our little ones.
‘A little kitty, wouldn’t that be perfect?
My little girl would really love that. THAT’S what I am going to get her for Christmas!’ There we are. The purrfect Christmas present sorted. And a questionable future for a little furball.
Only last week I read a story of a woman who was questioned because she was caught throwing a little kitten out of her car window while driving on a main road.
This kitten had a lucky escape due to one compassionate man who had stopped the traffic and picked it up before it was killed.
Thrown on roads, put in sacks with the intention of being drowned, abandoned in fields and woods, when people find out that kittens can be hyper, may climb curtains and have claws and god forbid scratch their child.
At this point too often the purrfect Christmas present becomes a nuisance. And the path to a painful fate for one more cat is decided. Discovered later in deserted apartments, houses, scared for their life and having lost all faith in humanity they trusted so much and gave their All to?
It is true that cats are very independent animals and they are well able to fend for themselves if necessary. But they still have emotions and feel fear and sadness.
Cats love their comfort, and although they will never be as dependant on you as dogs for instance, they do love their human and show affection in many ways.
Also Cats CHOOSE their human. And if you are the “lucky one” to be adopted, then you have the honour to be their very personal slave.
For example, Flecki, our grey and white tom made his choice from the day we rescued him from being chased by a husky. Tiny, scruffy and shivering he immediately went up to my daughters room and pressed his little body against my delighted daughter.
Our oldest lady Momo, after having been mistreated so badly, is definitely ‘my’ cat, cuddling up to my side wherever I am and squeezing herself next to me.
Most of us cat lovers feel this stinging pain in our hearts hearing all these sad and cruel stories about these amazing animals.
Joined with the urge to rescue them and offer them the cozy, warm and loving home they so deserve.
And here the question arises:
How many cats are too many, what is the magic number ?
Being a self proclaimed Crazy Cat Lady myself I would of course say: Never enough!! But before you open your door to all these fascinating creatures it is important to be aware of a few things.
There is that stereotype that the Cat species is the one who walks alone and in nature cats seem pretty self sufficient, spending many hours on their own.
One reason for your cats solitude is that they are lone hunters, not pack hunters like dogs. Cats go it alone relying on their own stealth and pouncing skills rather than numbers.
So the question is, are they comfortable living in an environment shared with other cats? The answer is simple. Yes they are.
Because if we have a look at farms or docks, for example, when resources are plentiful cats manage well enough to live peacefully together in a true society and cooperate to raise their young ones.
So how many cats then?
How many cats is too many for one house? There are really two main points which come into play when trying to create a harmonious cat household so let’s take a look at them.
The personality of a cat is one of the key aspects, as every cat is unique and reacts differently to fellow housemates.
One is more sociable while another cat likes her own space and prefers to stay the solo cat of the household, probably out of insecurity or fear. In this case I would not recommend another cat or maximum two.
Others are happy to live in a “colony” (not pack, remember cats by nature are loners) and it is quite possible for three or four cats to live peacefully under one roof.
It has to be mentioned though that with a greater amount of felines the danger of stress related behaviour may be expected. Like the problem of inappropriate urination, if the cat feels it has no space to retreat. As I said it may, you can be lucky but you might not.
How they were raised as kittens also plays a major part.
A cat who has been raised with other friendly cats will find it undoubtedly easier to adapt to a home with other felines while an abandoned or mistreated cat is probably more suspicious to others.
I adopted so many cats in my life that I feel my ‘oldest’ ones have given up on their human by now. They do their usual ‘introduction hiss’ and shortly after they either ignore or accept the new addition.
Two of my current three cats became best buddies from day one while our lady is more the loner type and simply ignores the boys due to her probably painful past.
But I also had the experience of bringing cats into my home and it played out much more difficult, even impossible once or twice and with a heavy heart I had to find a more suitable home for them.
We all have the wishful thinking that all our furry friends live happily ever after in our home and it CAN happen, if we consider a few helpful tips:
- Provide sufficient food bowls for dry and wet food and water at least twice a day. I personally feed mainly dry food as it is better for their teeth but if you keep wet food as a treat it doesn’t do them too much harm
- Make sure that every cat has the possibility of withdrawal, a place where they are comfortable and can retreat to if needed
- Create cat friendly surroundings that provide enough space for them to roam and play. That includes perches, window sills, cat/climbing frames and toys
When adding a new cat to the ‘club’, introduce the newcomer gently to the other cats and supervise the first contact with them.
Some recommend to keep them in a separate room for the beginning or in a crate for a while. My personal experience is to smoothly let them do the introduction themselves.
Naturally I would closely supervise their actions and in the event that their behaviour would become critical, I would intervene.
Nevertheless it usually calmed quite fast and after a while they either accepted or ignored each other. Maybe as my older cats are well used to the procedure already.
However I also had to rehome cats I took in as they would not settle, which is sad but should be considered for the cat’s wellbeing if the situation doesn’t show any improvement. But normally after a time of supervision peace should reign. Neuter and spay your pet!
Not only are you taking part in helping to prevent the huge number of kittens that would otherwise result. But you also make sure your cat is living a long and healthy life. It is a must for every pet owner and has great benefits for your feline friend.
Especially if you are considering taking in more than one cat as it reduces the aggression between cats to only name one.
For more information about neutering and spaying your cat, go to Benefits of Neutering a Cat
So how many cats are too many? It all really depends on the factors pointed out like personality, socialisation, facilities and handling.
For most people two or three are plenty and others are happy to take on 5 to 10 and manage well with this amount.
So if you have the patience of a saint and money to burn then I guess there is not such thing as too many cats.
Yet it is important to be aware that your wallet will be stretched when you have a huge amount of cats living with you.The more cats you take in, the more costs will occur.
Cat food and litter for more than one cat can be very expensive, vet bills may go through the roof and not to forget the time. Cleaning out cat toilets for example and your furry friends also want to be interacted with.
Loner or not loner, cats want to be taken care of, they enjoy being entertained and that takes time too.
But being conscious of all these aspects there is nothing stopping you giving as many lonely and grateful kitties a wonderful and loving home and one thing I can assure you – the love of a cat and the plenty of laugh out loud moments they provide are priceless!
Have a pawsome Christmas and purrfect holidays!
About the author
Christine Klein is a writer and designer and a ‘crazy cat lady’ per se. She lives with her daughter and her cats in the West of Ireland and is dreaming to one day own a cat sanctuary.
In September 2016 she published her debut book about a wonderful self-absorbed cat called Fluffernutter.
‘You’ve Cat to be Kitten Me! Insights of a purrfect cat’ is available on amazon as Kindle or paperback version.
Purrfect Cat Tales