Behavioral problems

How Many Cats is Too Many in an Apartment?

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. February 13, 2018
How Many Cats is Too Many in an Apartment?

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If it were up to some family members, they'd happily trade a brother or sister for more feline friends about the house. At least they don't take all the good cookies and hog the computer. They are affectionate, entertaining and full of personality. However, the more cats you have, the more responsibility you gain.

There are many reasons you may want to have more cats in your house. It could be that you really love their company or you have gained a local reputation as a caring cat person who can't say no to a stray cat. Unfortunately, there are many considerations when asking how many cats is too many in an apartment? These are there to ensure the health and wellbeing of both the feline and human inhabitants of an apartment.

You may also be interested in: How To Calm An Aggressive Cat


  1. How many people live in the apartment?
  2. What size is your apartment?
  3. Why it's not convenient to have many cats together

How many people live in the apartment?

If you are thinking about bringing a new pet into your home, you will need to consider whether there is any room in the inn. While it can be easy to think that cats are so independent they don't need us, this is untrue. Cats are companions to us and we to them. It is not simply a matter of filling their food bowl and cleaning the litter tray. Cats need affection and attention. This is why many people recommend you shouldn't have more cats than hands.

This means that if you are living with your partner, then four cats should be the maximum and only two if you live alone. We should say, however, that we mean two per responsible person, not two for every human who lives in the apartment. If you have young children who need looking after and cannot look after a pet themselves, then you should have less cats, not more. This is because you will only have so much attention to give and you may only end up stressing yourself out trying to meet all of this responsibility.

It is important to remember this is a guideline and there are other factors dependent on how many cats you should have in your home or apartment. If you don't work, work from home or simply have a lot of free time you may be better equipped to look after more cats. However, cats are not a hobby or to be treated like a commodity. They are living breathing creatures which depend on your for both nurture and survival. Many stray cats will socialize with others. You, however, are your pets family and they may not get socialization from anywhere else.

This is why the stereotype of a ‘crazy cat lady’ (obviously not always a helpful stereotype) is usually an older woman who lives alone and doesn't have many other responsibilities. They are able to devote more time and attention to their cats.

How Many Cats is Too Many in an Apartment? - How many people live in the apartment?

What size is your apartment?

It is important for both you and your cat(s) what size is your apartment. You both need space to move around, keep all of your amenities and have space when needed. If you have ever had more people in a room than there should be, say for a sleepover or stopping by on a road trip, you will know that people will use up the air space as much as the ground space. There are only so many people you should have in a space before it becomes unhealthy. The same goes for cats.

Cats need room to go to the toilet, eat, sleep and exercise. If you have indoor cats, too many of them doing this in a small apartment will seriously affect the quality of your lives together. It is simply unreasonable to expect too many cats to cohabitate and not face problems.

Apartment living has its own issues you need to be concerned about. It is not simply space which is important, but access to space. If you live in an apartment which is a few stories up, then you can be putting your cats in danger. High rise syndrome in cats is a condition whereby cats are not aware of how high up they are or the dangers associated with falls. If you live in a apartment more than a few stories high, having too many cats will understandably make your cats want to have more space. This means looking for opportunities to escape and potential danger if they fall.

Having many cats in a house can be easier as it is ground floor and has access to a garden, so you may be happy to have more cats because you know they have more space to play with. You may have a ground floor apartment which allows you to do the same. However, access is very important, so you need your cat to get in and out. This may compromise your safety in an urban apartment complex.

If you have a large apartment where you have spare rooms and places for your cats to explore and rest, you may be able to have more cats. If you live somewhere cramped, say a one bedroom or studio apartment, then it is irresponsible to have too many cats. Also, you will need to check with your building regulators as to whether or not you are allowed to have a cat in the first place. This is because if your landlord find out you may have to give your cat away to a shelter and this can add to an already big problem with trying to home enough cats.

How Many Cats is Too Many in an Apartment? - What size is your apartment?

Why it's not convenient to have many cats together

If we spend a lot of time at work and don't have anyone else at home to look after our cats, having two together can be a good idea. It keeps them occupied and stops them from feeling lonely. It will also likely mean they will be better behaved when you are at home. However, if you have many cats in your apartment or house, it can be problematic for many reasons:

  • Can you meet their basic needs?: you may adopt a cat for very much money, but their upkeep requires expenses. The more cats you have, the more food you need to buy, the more kitty litter you need to get and the more vets bills you will accumulate.
  • Is it healthy for this many cats to be together?: even if your cats have all been neutered and vaccinated, having this many cats is a breeding ground for mites and disease. If one of them gets infected, then their close proximity will increase the likelihood of others becoming so. General cleanliness is also affected, with so many cats causing a mess from their natural habits such as defecating, urinating and hair shedding.
  • Is it healthy for you and your family?: it is not just your cats who cat get affected by having this many animals together. Cats can transmit disease and also rile allergies. Also, cats can live for a long time. When you are free and single, you may like the idea of having many cats, but when your family expands, you may need to make some tough decisions. You can't always predict what life sends your way, but making sure you look after your cats means considering them for the future. While you may not have too many cats in your apartment now, this might change.
  • Can we dedicate enough time to them?: cats need attention and care. If you have too many cats in your apartment, you won't have enough time to devote to them. This is especially if you have a breed of cat which requires more attention than others.
  • Do we meet the personality of our cat?: while some breeds might be considered more social than others, environmental factors will also need to be considered if you have too many cats in the apartment. Are they exploratory cats? Do they need a lot of affection? Do they not get on with other cats? While some cats may play well with others and be happy spending all their time indoors, this won't be the same for all of them.

If you know someone who has too many cats in their apartment, they may be at risk of something called Noah Syndrome. This is something which has many factors, particularly neurological ones, so reading up about it might mean you can provide some help to this person if needed. Otherwise if you or someone has too many cats in an apartment, then you may need to restrategize as it could be an irresponsible amount.

If you want to read similar articles to How Many Cats is Too Many in an Apartment?, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

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How Many Cats is Too Many in an Apartment?