I’ve had a lot of cats live with me in the house I’m currently living in. At one point, there were seven cats under this roof, and that was for a good few months.
But they weren’t all mine, and they didn’t all interact all the time. I’d have a couple sectioned off from the others, and gave shifts to which cats were let out at what time of day.
These cats weren’t all meant to stay in my home for very long either.
See, when we first started taking in the stray Persian kitties in our neighbourhood, we planned to do it gradually, over time.
We started with Bjorn, just after one of the Persians, who we used to call “The Three Musketeer Cats + d’Artagnan” (d’Artagnan being Bjorn), was – devastatingly – run over by a drunk driver on either Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
My heart broke that day, and I still think about that poor cat to this day. Sometimes I think of how nice it would have been to have managed to save him, too.
After that happened, we decided we couldn’t bare it if Bjorn had the same fate, and since we realized he didn’t have an owner, and was likely the offspring of one of the other Persian cats (I mean look at him, pictured below; he’s definitely part tabby cat), we took Bjorn in quickly.
We were going to take our time with the others, especially since we suspected they may have owners.
But the vets told us that they were likely to be abandoned pets, and the furries got really, really bad matts sitting out in the rain.
Look at poor Athos –
I couldn’t watch this for long.
One of the cats – Aramis – had allergies so bad she scratched herself to the bone quite frequently and quite deeply as well. It wasn’t a pretty sight and I wanted to help.
Of course, things never go the way you expect, and of course Aramis got pregnant.
So we did our best to keep her and her babies well taken care of.
Only one kitten made it in the end. Cleo, we named her, because she’s a pretty spunky monkey, with a survivor’s spirit.
So I got ’em all into my house as quick as I could, to keep them safe, and segmented them off in the house so they wouldn’t fight.
All this was fine because it was never supposed to be long term. It was a handful and a half, but I could do it for quite some time.
My brother was planning on moving nearby, and he was happy to take a cat or maybe two into his own household. He already had a couple cats of his own, and needed a place to stay while he was house hunting, so he stayed with us in the basement.
This put the total number of furbabies under this here roof to seven.
Too many cats, especially since they had to be sectioned off for their own protection from each other.
Avery, the cat we’ve had for ages, was just getting used to Bjorn and was no longer too stressed with him back when we started taking in the others.
So we tried to have the cats interact with each other as much as possible (monitored by us of course), but that didn’t happen very often because stress levels got high pretty quick for Avery.
Now, my brother has 3 cats, and I have three cats. I think it’s a good number.
Yes you did do the math right, that makes six cats, not seven.
Heartbreakingly, one of my brother’s cats passed away shortly after he moved here – his cat had a heart problem that could cause him to go at any time, and unfortunately that time came while he was living with us, just before my brother moved out.
For the most part, getting cats to get along is a one at a time process. And so having more than three cats – pretty exhausting mentally to imagine if I had to gradually make them get along.
To get one cat to be friendly with one other cat, takes time, but it’s not too bad. Totally doable, even if it takes 6 months to a year to really get them friendly. To get a cat to be friendly to two other cats, that feels like it squares the amount of work you’ve got. It’s a huge headache because one cat may not like another, even if that cat likes him or her back, and to solidify that relationship is a huge ordeal, let alone to do it with two cats.
Having cats that get along by nature with other cats means there’s far less work, but even at 3 cats, I feel as though I’m spending far less time with each cat than I’d personally like.
It’s easy to have two cats cuddled up in my lap all winter, for example. With three, it’s impossible. Someone has to be next to me… or off in the distance begging to be pet longingly while there is just no more room…
In general, when it comes to doing things for the cats, it’s not too much extra work. Chores-wise and in terms of feeding and cleaning after that is.
I’d say I could probably have 4-5 cats for the amount of work I’d imagine I’d need to do for just one or two dogs.
But if there’s someone with an upset tummy, and then another with an upset tummy, or two cats have issues in the #2 department and one’s got a hairball to cough up, this can feel overwhelming.
I can’t imagine having 4-5 cats with all of them having issues like this on the regular. Or needing to be groomed all the time like our 2 Persians that need shaving quite often.
I couldn’t imagine also having Aramis for example, as that feels like a load more work even if it’s only one extra cat…
But it also doesn’t feel nice imagining having 4-5 cats and only having very limited amount of time to spend with each.
I spend a lot of time in my house to begin with since I work from home, and am an introvert who loves to cozy up with the cats on the couch, or even have them on my lap while I play video games.
But still, it’s not quite the same having even 3 as it was when I had two.
They just… don’t quite all fit…
…okay maybe just barely, but my legs go numb far more often these days.
I think the issue with having two in my mind has always been that if I have three and one dies, I still have two left to comfort me and to keep each other company.
If I have two and one dies, mentally, this feels too difficult to imagine emotionally recovering from.
Maybe this is crazy talk, but that’s how it feels.
I absolutely preferred having two cats over having one.
Having one was great, and I really did prefer having a single cat to having no cats at all (my previous pet was a ball python – yes, a snake! – and it wasn’t at all the same).
But I feel now that I could never be without a cat again.
And getting Bjorn was a breath of fresh air.
Having two never made me feel I was sacrificing time with one, giving the second any less attention. It felt like I could balance two quite easily and everyone was happy.
With three, it feels a lot more difficult to strike balance. To make everybody happy. Though it’s not bad at all and I do feel the cats are less lonely when left alone in the home.
Maybe, maybe, I will go back to having two again someday, because that was a sweet spot I really liked.
But most likely, three is the perfect number for me. And not any more.