Should we get a third cat?
August 29, 2017 9:51 AM   Subscribe

We have two cats and a dog. There's been a real sweet boy cat at our local shelter since April. My husband and I both think he'd make a good addition to our home. But maybe four pets is too many?

The cat in question is eight years old. He was surrendered after living in a home his whole life and the shelter says he's kind of cat that likes other people and is good with cats, dogs and kids (we don't have kids). We agreed if he was still at the shelter in September we would seriously consider adopting him. At the time I think we both assumed there was no way such a sweet animal would still be there, but here we are. We have a dog who is generally unbothered by cats. We also have two male cats, that are 9 and 10. One will probably enjoy a buddy, the other is spoiled and dislikes when I show any other pets or even my husband attention. That being said, he loves his brother cat. If we do this we would introduce everyone REALLY slowly.

My husband and I are of two minds on this. We both love cats and have been thinking about this animal for months. We have the money to take care of older cats. We have the room. But we also feel like isn't three pets enough? I don't know. I feel like the problem is both bringing him home and not bringing him home are totally valid answers. I am hoping Metafilter can push us in either direction so we can make this decision.
posted by Bistyfrass to Pets & Animals (31 answers total)
I know plenty of people who live quite happily in homes with four total pets. Can you care for four pets? Can you afford vet bills for four pets? Those are the important questions. There's not some arbitrary number that is "too many".
posted by Sequence at 9:53 AM on August 29, 2017 [14 favorites]

My ex and I had 5 cats at one point in a large house. If you have the money, space, love, and time, there is no right number. You would be doing this cat a favor, and if you have been thinking of kitty a lot in the last few months as you say, maybe you'd be doing your family a favor, too!
posted by oflinkey at 9:55 AM on August 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

You've been thinking about this for months? You have this internet stranger's encouragement to go do it. There is no objective number of pets that is too many - there is only the point where you can't care for the pet adequately or taking care of the pet takes over your life in a way you're not willing to accept. For some, more than zero pets is that number; for others, I've seen five or six living their best lives. It sounds like you can handle it - if you feel comfortable taking that introduction slowly enough (and if you're willing to return the cat if your spoiled boy can't handle it), go give that kitty the home it deserves.
posted by mosst at 9:55 AM on August 29, 2017 [13 favorites]

You want this kitty. Go get him now.
posted by tully_monster at 10:05 AM on August 29, 2017 [15 favorites]

We have three pets and have also been thinking about getting a fourth. I think you should do it. It sounds like you already love new cat, and have thought through the potential challenges.
posted by chemicalsyntheticist at 10:05 AM on August 29, 2017

As long as you can afford four pets, go get the kitty! You haven't exceeded the number of hands versus pets, so you're all good.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:06 AM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Go get your new cat and post a picture of him!
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 10:11 AM on August 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

We also had five cats at one point, sort of by accident, and it was fine and everyone was ok, healthy until old age or untreatable conditions overtook them and we took great delight in their company. A+, would be swamped by cats again.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 10:21 AM on August 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Get that kitty! If you're both still thinking about him, I think you should get him. I have had as many as eight cats at once, and sometimes that seemed ridiculous, but other times I'd be sitting on my bed and think, "where are all the cats?" Four pets are not too many. :)
posted by poppunkcat at 10:29 AM on August 29, 2017

If you can afford the vet bills (annual vaccines and checkups for 4 is not cheap) and food and other whatnot, go for it. Everyone will adjust to the new normal, and there's no finite amount of love.
-- caretaker of 3 dogs and a cat
posted by Fig at 10:40 AM on August 29, 2017

I totally forgot the cat tax! This is his picture from the shelter. He had some teeth removed so sometimes his tongue hangs out. We made an appointment to go bring him home tomorrow. Thanks, guys. This was the push we needed.
posted by Bistyfrass at 10:44 AM on August 29, 2017 [76 favorites]

My parents have a German Shepherd, a terrier, two male cats, a female cat, and two teenage boys. The worst that happens is the female cat gets annoyed because the dogs and other cats want to play with her, but she's an old granny who wants to be left alone. Other than that, it's been perfectly fine. Obviously this depends on pet personalities and such, but if you have the time and resources to care for another cat, by all means, go for it.

On preview... consider this just more affirmation you've made the right decision. :)
posted by brook horse at 10:47 AM on August 29, 2017

posted by mightshould at 10:47 AM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Wow, what a good boy! People who adopt older cats are the best.
posted by kapers at 10:54 AM on August 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

Can you afford the vet fees when they're all in their old age at the same time? Is your place big enough that they won't be too crowded? If so, I'd go for it!
posted by salvia at 10:55 AM on August 29, 2017

The concern I have is your local pet ordinance. My municipality has a hard limit on 4 pets in the house, but no more than 2 dogs in a household. So even in my town, this aderpable cat gets an OK.
posted by jillithd at 10:59 AM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I opened the picture of your new cat and I literally moaned "AWWWWHOOOOWAAWWWWWW" at my desk.

You made the right choice. He is adorable :) I hope he settles in well :)
posted by JenThePro at 11:05 AM on August 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

I love him already.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 11:13 AM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Make sure you have enough litter boxes. For three cats I'd suggest at least two, especially when a new cat is being introduced.
posted by achrise at 11:18 AM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


(because you have responsibly given it careful consideration)
posted by WalkerWestridge at 11:29 AM on August 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I literally teared up when I got to your update. Yay for you guys, yay for your new family member. :)
posted by joycehealy at 12:00 PM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

You have made the right decision! Get a robot vacuum if you don't already have one, and my vet has told me that the right amount of litter boxes is [# of cats] + 1. Your new sweetie is DARLING!
posted by lalex at 12:06 PM on August 29, 2017

OMG he is adorable! May you have many many years of joy with that FACE to go!
posted by clone boulevard at 12:09 PM on August 29, 2017

Meet Finley, the #4 pet addition to our family. I cannot imagine life without her, and the other three animals LOVE her.
posted by cooker girl at 12:13 PM on August 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

Awwwwww look at that beautiful kitty! What a sweetheart! Congratulations to him and to you, I'm going to go chop onions so I have an excuse for crying now.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:13 PM on August 29, 2017

Thank you for doing this!
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:14 PM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Coming late to this, but had to stop to say OMG what an adorable cat. Congrats to all of you, fur and human people.
posted by rpfields at 7:33 PM on August 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sweet... um... did the other pets run off when you got out the camera? Psychic scritches!
posted by TrishaU at 3:53 AM on August 30, 2017


OMG, that little pink tongue.
posted by tully_monster at 5:54 AM on August 30, 2017

It seems you made your decision, and I applaud it. However, for future reference and for anyone else who may have this problem:

What you're basically asking is "How many pets are too many?" The answer depends on the size of your living space. If your home is between 1000-1300 square feet, the answer is 8 pets. If it's 2000+ square feet, you can add one more, so your answer would be that 9 pets is too many. These numbers, in my experience, is when one pet is likely to become territorial.


Someone who joined households with her mother in order to take care of her, and now has 8 cats in a small house. Which is exactly one too many. (This also seems to be the same conclusion reached by many pet foster parents I'm aware of.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:13 AM on August 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

And what is his name now?

We have 3 animals. That is too many for ME, but we already have these 3 and love them to pieces. Going forward, I won't have more than 2, but again, that's ME and what my family can handle.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:40 PM on September 1, 2017

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