Well my brain still seems to be in "write about cats" mode, so readers uninterested in cats will just have to bear through another entry about them.
But to those of you who might consider yourselves fellow catgeeks out there, I pose the following: how many cats is "a lot"? I will offer my take on this below, but would be interested in others' thoughts.
Seeing as I finally managed to trap and adopt Shadow (shown above, brother and littermate to supertabbies Coraline and Brodie) on Monday, October 26, I now live with three fabulous felines.
And come the end of December, I'll be adopting one of my parents' cats as they (my parents) are moving out of state and this particular cat (a seven-year-old Siamese lady named Nikki) doesn't get along with their dog as it is (she's generally been fine with other cats, though).
Which will bring me to a grand total of four cats.
Upon hearing this news, a friend told me I was "heading into crazy cat lady territory". He may have been joking around somewhat, but that got me wondering...is four cats really a lot?
To me, that doesn't seem like that huge of an amount. Granted, most people I know who live with cats have two or maybe three, but I've certainly known people with more than four who seemed to be able to keep up with them all. It seems to be a pretty individual thing.
Essentially, the way I see it, whether or not you have "too many" cats is based less on numbers than on whether you have the resources (food, shelter, space, sanitation, means to provide healthcare) to care for them. For some people, one cat would be too many.
Moreover, it also depends on the cats' personalities and predilections. I know several people who have one cat and one cat only, not because they can't accommodate another from a resource standpoint, but because the resident feline is extremely territorial and won't permit other cats on the premises.
The house my partner and I just moved into is a 3-bedroom, 1-bath single-family detached residence, approximately 1016 square feet (not counting the attached/finished garage). I am still shocked beyond all get-out we were able to find anything remotely like this that was actually affordable to non-millionares like us in this area but I guess we just got lucky. And so far things seem to be going really well since the kittens joined us.
We're currently still restricting feline access to just the three bedrooms, the bathroom, and the adjoining hallway. The living room/kitchen areas still have minor remodeling projects going on, and I definitely don't think kittens mix well with either paint or power tools. Even so, we've yet to have any issues with untoward bodily functions or wanton acts of destruction beyond the occasional shredded kleenex under the bed.
I've got a good litterbox-cleaning routine established -- basically I scoop the poop (1) every morning before I shower, (2) in the afternoon when I get home from work, and (3) right before bed, so the activity is "rolled into" other maintenance-routine stuff I'm doing at those times anyway. And since I never let the boxes get really gross, the scooping itself takes a mere few minutes each time.
Of course, being youngsters, the kitties do get rather rambunctious during their high-energy periods of the day (which, thankfully, no longer seems to include "3 AM"). But the situation nonetheless doesn't feel overcrowded. Coraline has been a bit hissy and growly at Shadow since his arrival (especially if he dares go near her favorite spots on the bed!), but she seems to be settling down about his presence now and I even caught all three of them snuggling together under the bed last night (though, somewhat amusingly, as soon as Cora saw me, she looked over at Shadow and growled lightly).
And that's with the cats having access privileges to only about half the house. I am looking forward to letting them have free run of the place as I expect they'll enjoy birdwatching out the large picture windows on the front and side of the house, and I figure they'll each have plenty of room to stake out territories as they see fit. When Nikki arrives there will almost certainly be some more interesting territory stuff to work out, but I'm optimistic. I think having four cats is going to be awesome fun!
But I also think that four is just about the right amount for me (given my resources, available space, executive functioning, other commitments, and finances), and I don't plan on going over that. Any other cats who cross my path (so to speak) will be trapped, neutered, and returned to their outdoor homes if they're feral, or recommended to others who might be seeking to adopt if they're tame.
And on that note, I was reading about animal hoarders recently, and I think that sometimes when people end up in those situations, it's due to not properly distinguishing intentions from consequences.
Yes, there are probably some out there who think cats are like Pokemon ("I only need one more ginger tabby to complete the set!") but my guess would be that it's usually more of a "rescuing the cat means personally tending to the cat myself in my own home, so I'll just take this one home, even though I already have ten cats, because I can't trust anyone else to properly care for this one" thing.
And then some break in logic occurs where the person might assume that since they meant to give the cats a better life, the cats living with them must have better lives, even if in actuality they're all living in unhygenic and disease-promoting squalor.
To me, the potential for that kind of thing to happen seems like a really good reason not to overfocus on how well-intentioned you are. I've seen this happen in a lot of situations, not just with cats -- e.g., I've been in situations where someone has decided they're going to "help" me, and then get really weird and nasty if I say the help isn't helping.
It gets very tautological at that point -- "But how can you not think you're being helped? I'm trying to help you! I'm a good, nice person! Therefore, anything I do must be helping, even if you say it isn't, and even if some things seem worse!" It's like the person either
(a) blames the "help-ee" for being defective or defiant if their methods don't "work", or
(b) somehow blocks out the reality of what the situation actually looks like as a result of their "help", figuring that there's no way such good intentions can lead to anything actually bad, so what is happening must really be good, regardless of what it looks like to the "naysayers".
But I digress. Like most other people, I have a lot of good intentions, including the intention of helping cats when and where I can. But I do not have it in my head that every neglected/abandoned/homeless cat in the world needs to live with me. The consequences of holding to such a conviction would be lots of suffering and death, which are the exact things I want to help the cats avoid.
Coraline, Brodie, Shadow, and Nikki will be quite enough feline family for my home, and I'm setting a hard limit there at four as far as how many kitties I will actually live with at any given time. And of course they're all going to be spayed, neutered, vaccinated, etc.
Granted, they will also be the sort of cats who are allowed to sleep on the bed, who get "novelty boxes" set out for them in the morning (lately I've been taking empty tissue boxes and putting toys or old socks or catnip in them for the kitties to discover), and who will get to drink out of the bathroom sink if they so request it...and if that makes me some sort of cat-weirdo, so be it!