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October 13, 2014 at 12:10 PMComments: 10 Faves: 0

The Cons of a Multi-Pet Household: Why You Might Want to Reconsider Having More Than One Pet

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

I have four pets - two cats and two dogs - and they are my joy! I love coming home to all four of them. They greet me with enthusiasm at the door every time time I come home, and that always puts a smile on my face.

This said - I will never have more than one pet (preferably, a dog) again.

OK, don't look at me with evil eyes. I know what you're thinking! "Why, as a dog trainer, would you make such a bold statement?"

Well, actually, I have three very good reasons. Let me explain:

1. Travel

I like to travel. My friends and family don't believe me, because I rarely travel, but I really do. With four pets though, it is extremely difficult to find a trustworthy house/pet sitter (and no, I will NOT ever consider boarding any of them, too stressful for them and me). So I rarely travel. If I had one pet, it would be so much easier. I could even take my pet with me or ask a family member to babysit this "one" pet at their house. But, asking to babysit four pets (especially two that are cats) is not feasible.

2. Behavior

Dogs feed off of each other! One barks, they all bark, one jumps, they all jump, and so on. I LOVE walking my dogs. As a trainer, I am a HUGE advocate of taking your dog for a daily walk. Behaviorally, it's really helpful, not to mention, it's very healthy too. But, walking more than one dog can be exhausting and frustrating. Not to say you can't have that experience with just one dog, but managing and working with one dog is much easier than trying to do that with multiple dogs on a walk. And, the difficulty of taking each dog at separate times for their walks so that the behaviors can be corrected can be time-consuming.

With cats some may get finicky sharing their litter-box. So multiple cat boxes may be required. Some cats can be very dominate in their household behavior too. Cat behavior can be more difficult to manage and correct than dog behavior.

3. Cost

The more pets you have, the more costly it can be. For example, one of my cats has a serious gastrointestinal issue and has to be on special cat food. This alone costs me $150 a month - just for him. No, I would not consider adopting him out or euthanizing him. Those options, well, are not options. With this special food, he is happy and normal as can be! My total food bill a month is approximately $300 for all four pets. All my pets are of geriatric age, so this means medicine, medicine, and yes, more medicine. If you travel, boarding or hiring a pet-sitter can add up. K-CHING!

And about government assistance - yes, I am going to go here. I belong to many rescue sites on social media. I promote, engage, encourage, and believe that adoption is the best option! However, I can't stand it when I read post from others mentioning they are on one or more of the following; disability, social security, unemployment, or many other government assistance programs and have multiple pets. They inquire about low cost spay/neuter places, cheaper brand of pet food, and the list goes on. It's great that they want to care for cats or dogs, but REALLLYYY???!!!! If you truly can't afford to support yourself without being on government assistance, having more than one pet should really be reconsidered.

With That Said, Cats Are Different from Dogs

Yes, with all this said, there is a difference between owning multiple cats and owning multiple dogs. Cats do tend to be lower maintenance pets, in general.

You do't have to take them for walks, they don't have to be let outside (avoiding many of the potential health issues dogs face), they eat less, and it's easier to travel with cats as you can leave them at home and simply have a friend come check on them for a short period twice a day to feed and water them.A dog, of course, could never be left alone all day. First off, they would require at least a minimum of 5 visits a day (potty breaks, no luxury of a litter pan).

Second, dogs are very social pets - they LOVE humans and need more human interaction than cats require. Meanwhile, cats, being naturally more independent, can have their social needs fairly adequately met with just a cat buddy in our absence of a few days or so. (More on the benefits of owning more than one cat in my blog "Four Reasons Why Two Cats Are Better Than One")

But STILL, while cats and dogs may not be exactly the same challenge, drawbacks to a mutli-cat household remain. Personalities might clash, and expenses and care needs increase. All this has to be taken into consideration. (For tips on keeping the peace in a multi-cat household, please check out this article from the Feline 101 blog - "Multi-Cat Home: Understanding (And Keeping Peace!) in the Feline Hierarchy")

When it comes to cats vs dogs in the multi-household debate, I think it's more of a matter of extent - the difficulties in owning more than one cat are less than the difficulties in owning more than one dog. BUT that doesn't mean they aren't there.

Be Honest With Yourself

Before you start "barking" at me though, this is a personal decision. It doesn't make anyone "wrong" or "right", it just depends on the best situation for them, their family, and lifestyle. I know for me, one pet fits much more comfortably. I hope others consider their lifestyle too, before taking on a multi-pet household.

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  • I agree, 100%, Miss Victoria. That's why Jack is the only 4 legged love of my life, however, it is so doggone hard to resist taking in more. I can never go to the Humane Society because I want to bring them all home!

  • I agree with you. I have 3 dogs and it is a lot of work, lot of money and lot of special care and special food for all their allergies and such. Love is not an issue though, we love them and they love us right back but all of our decision start and end with us thinking how to take care of them first since we also do not want to board them.

  • Thanks Jody and Jack! Oh, my husband teases me all the time, and says "I am one animal away from being a hoarder", realistically that would be five animals, so I don't really think he has it quite right, but I understand what he is getting at.

  • Thank Emina - I was expecting a LOT of back lash on this blog. I agree with you, this has nothing to do with love, which why it isn't mentioned in my blog. That is one area wonderful pet-parents do NOT lack in - LOL!

  • Hi, just wanted to say I have four dogs and I just love them so much and they are so much company since I lost my husband. Yes there is the expense but their unconditional love and companship make everything worthwhile. I also have 5 birds which were given to me, by the residents at the assisted living facility where I work, since they were unable to care for them anymore.

  • Hi Suzy, I am sorry about the loss of your husband and am very glad to hear that your pets offer you much comfort. That is what matters :-)

  • Oh Victoria so sad that you feel that only having one four legged companion is the way.

    Me I have Mollie, 13 year old Labrador cross, the love of my life, I still don't know who rescued who 12 and a half years ago, but it's been the best time. Holidays, well we do them together, who needs tourist traps, full of the sort of experiences I can do without, when I can be watching Mollie laughing with joy because she has Mum's undivided attention for once. Reason?.........

    Well she does have to share her life with 5 rescue moggies, ranging in age from 16 to 2 years, but the loving way that she herds and nurtures them is a joy to behold. Does she get jealous, absolutely, do I pay any attention, no way, it's part and parcel of life.

    As for boarding the cats they've been going to the same cattery for years, they don't get stressed, trust me, you have to choose the right people who will give them the right amount of care and then again let them get on with it. The lady who runs mine is now a friend and I'd rather for the 2 weeks that Mollie and I spend quality time with each other, that the cats are safe, warm, well fed and have access to open runs rather than them maybe wonder where the heck I am if they were pet sat at home.

    Sorry but I think that humans spend far too much time stressing about our pets, they absolutely don't give two hoots putting you through the anguish of sitting out overnight as my 16 year old did 4 weeks ago when there was a foot of snow on the ground.

    I got the flu and he toddled through the cat flap at 4am screeching his head off for the tea which was put out for him 11 hours previously!! You just got to love'em!!

  • Hi Liz~

    I am sorry you feel sad for me, no need to. I have been around pets all my life (including a farm). I loved and still love them all very much. But, my lifestyle is not conducive to having multiple pets anymore. I will always have A pet, but multiple ones - not anymore. I have a GREAT house/pet sitter so need for me to board anyone, but some people don't have that option. Like I said this is a personal choice - I don't believe there is a right or wrong here. Mollie sounds absolutely delightful! She and all your pets are very lucky to have you. Thanks for sharing your pets stories! I enjoyed reading about them and especially Mollie.

  • You should see Wireless Whiskers pet feeder uses ID tags so the feeder can identify each pet and allows you to set up feeding stations for specific pets while excluding others. Makes life easier in a multi pet household.

  • Great idea Wend! But all my pets are on a fresh dry kibble, so that wouldn't work for us. But for those that do feed a dry kibble meal, perfect idea!

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