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How many pets are too many?
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How many pets are too many?

If you love pets of all types, the chances are that you own more than one pet, and often, more than one species; or at least, potentially aspire to do so when the situation is right.

Unless you only keep small, caged pets that can be kept apart with ease, introducing new pets into the home (such as birds, rabbits, cats or dogs) is something that needs to be managed carefully, and you should plan each new animal acquisition that you get carefully to ensure that they will be a good fit with your other pets, and that getting a new addition is in the best interests of both that pet, and your others too.

There is a fine line between owning your own small, happy menagerie and having so many pets that you can’t take care of them properly, or they live too closely together for them to be able to exhibit natural behaviours and have enough personal space.

Owning too many pets can cause a whole range of problems, both in terms of the happiness and wellbeing of the pets themselves, and the effect that it can have on your wallet, personal living situation and relationship with your neighbours too!

Keeping far more pets than you can realistically take care of or allow to have their own space is a form of hoarding, which is in its own turn a type of mental disorder.

So, how many pets is too many, and how can you tell if you are crossing the line? In this article, we will attempt to answer this question.

How many pets are too many?

How many pets are too many is something that will vary considerably from person to person. Someone that has a large home and land, independent income and lots of spare time can obviously comfortably own and care for more animals than another person who lives in a small flat and has to work all day, which means that there is no one size fits all answer to this.

In order to establish how many pets are too many for any given person, you need to take into account a range of different factors, which we will outline below. If you cannot truthfully tick off all of these things, then it is time to reassess your situation.

Cost

First things first, it is often the cost of keeping a lot of pets that causes a problem for people who would like to own a lot of animals. Whilst it is often possible to get pets (including cats, dogs and rabbits) for free and feed them cheaply, there are a great number of other costs involved in caring for pets than just food.

Even the flea and worming treatments for each cat, dog or other animal can be very expensive over time, without adding in things like the cost of vaccinations and other healthcare, and of course, insurance.

If you cannot afford to pay for everything that you need to for each and every animal you keep, or struggle to do so, then you have too many pets.

Time commitment

Caring for a lot of animals takes up a lot of time. For cats, dogs and rabbits, a lot of this time will be socialising with them and keeping them entertained, whilst small pets like rodents or fish all need cleaning out and monitoring on a regular basis.

If you have to work a lot of hours to fund your pets’ care, you are unlikely to have the time that you will need to care for them all as well.

The status quo

One of the most important factors to bear in mind in a multi-pet household is how well all of the animals interact with each other. Dogs and rabbits are keen to have company, but even then this does not mean that any two individuals will get on well.

Cats in particular are generally not that keen to have lots of other cats around them, and so a household that has a lot of pets of this type may often be fraught and lead to behavioural issues, acting out and generally, a lot of unhappy pets.

Ability to exhibit natural behaviours

All pets have the right to be able to exhibit their natural behaviours such as grooming, exercising and doing the various things that make that pet who they are. A household with lots of pets can curb this considerably, particularly if some of your pets are potential prey for others!

If your pets are not able to lead a natural and fulfilled lifestyle due to the constraints caused by other pets, you have too many pets.

Personal space

Just like people, pets need personal space. This is particularly true for cats, each of which need their own bed, food bowls and litter trays, and territory too. If each of your pets does not have enough personal space, they will be unhappy, and so the living situation is not appropriate.

Your own comfort

It is also important to consider the impact that living with a lot of pets has on you yourself! If your entire home is taken over by pets and pet-related things, are you able to live comfortably in it?

Local council regulations

Some local councils, housing associations and leasehold buildings have restrictions in place in terms of how many pets and of what types are permitted within a home. If you are falling foul of these regulations or are coming close to it, it is time to stop.

The effect on your neighbours

Finally, even if you are not in breach of any regulations, you should carefully consider the effects of your own pet ownership on your neighbours. Cats that use their garden as a litter tray or dogs that bark all the time will soon lead to tense relations, and if your home and garden smells like all of your pets, this may cause problems too.

Ultimately, if you cannot carefully consider and cross off each of these points, you have too many pets.

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