The  subject of how many pets a person can own is a sensitive one. It’s also highly subjective, to some extent, and in some cases there are legal issues that determine pet ownership. Unfortunately, there is no magic number as to how many pets an owner can handle, but there are red flags that signal a problem. 

The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital are  here to address the situation of pet hoarding and help illuminate the signs.

6 Signs of Pet Hoarding

There is no magic number for the right number of pets for you. Of course, municipalities have enacted pet limits regulations and enforce them. But when it comes to caring for our critters, some families are fine with 5-6 pets and take care of each of them, while others may struggle with one. The key is to know they are cared for.

There are certain signs of pet hoarding, though, that can clue a person in to problems.

  1. There is no money for veterinary care. A pet’s check-ups, vaccinations, and blood work are necessary to keep them healthy. In fact, the rabies vaccine is required by law, and many other vaccinations are needed to prevent contagious disease.

    Without veterinary preventive care, pets can carry virulent illnesses and parasites to the community and all other unvaccinated pets. Veterinary care is essential for the health of the individual pet and all others exposed to them.
  2. It’s a struggle to pay for basics, like food. If the owner is struggling with buying food, litter, waste bags, and other requirements for daily pet care, then it may signal a problem.

    Yes, there are times when a person may struggle financially, but pets should have adequate nutrition and basic needs for their livelihood.
  3. There is a threat of eviction. If the owner is renting and there are rules about pet numbers and types of pets allowed, then the entire family is under threat of eviction.

    Some HOAs have strict rules about pet limits, and of course, your town will have pet limit laws to observe.
  4. Behavioral problems with pets have emerged. If there are one too many pets, problems like fighting, biting, and marking territory/increased accidents, and so on will occur.

    Pets feel the effects of hoarding because they need their privacy, just like us. When there are too many pets, there is also a need to establish hierarchy, which can create aggression in some animals. Cats also will begin to display more marking and territorial aggression.
  5. There is no time to exercise them all. Playtime and exercise are imperative for all pets in order to keep them healthy and well-behaved. Pets who do not receive exercise are at risk of obesity, certain diseases, and are generally less happy.

    Lack of stimulation and enrichment creates behavior problems, too, like aggression, destructive digging and chewing, and anxiety.
  6. Your friends and family have complained. Another obvious sign of having one too many fur-balls is that your family is complaining.

    Friends and family may complain about the problems that are ensuing with having a hoard, or they could be concerned about all the time you spend focused on the pets.

This list covers the basic signs of hoarding or having more pets than a person can handle. There are other signs, of course, including worry and stress from the homeowner.

Pet ownership is a big responsibility and lasts for the lifetime of your four-legged friend. The best thing we can do for our pets is to know our limitations to avoid putting pets in harm’s way.

If you have any questions about pet hoarding, or if you would like to make an appointment, please contact us. We are here for you.