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Signs You or Someone You Know Has Too Many Pets

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Jessica is a lover of all things living. She believes in taking the time to be good to all creatures, even spiders.


What Does It Mean to Have Too Many Pets?

Pets can truly be our best friends. They are excellent companions, many of them are loving, and they bring joy into our lives. However, it can be easy to get caught in the trap of, "if one pet makes me this happy, then another will make me even happier!" We all have limits on how many pets we can truly care for while maintaining our companions' good quality of life. When people cross that line it is called animal hoarding.

The ASPCA website states, "Animal “hoarding” can be identified when a person is housing more animals than they can adequately and appropriately care for. It is a complex issue that often encompasses mental health, animal welfare, and public safety concerns.

Animal hoarding is defined by an inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care—often resulting in over-breeding of animals, animal starvation, illness, and even death."

How Many Pets Are Too Many Pets?

There is no set number of pets that works for everyone. It all comes down to how much space you have, your ability to pay for their food and vet care, and your ability to care for them. If you can not truly provide for them, you have too many.

This article will go over signs that you or someone you know has already passed the point of having more pets than they can care for, and how to get help.

You Can't Afford to Take Care of Them

If someone can't afford to take care of an animal's basic needs they can't truly afford to keep them. Basic needs include vet bills, food, grooming, and having them spayed or neutered. When you choose to bring in an animal you should feel confident that you will be able to feed them and take care of them when they are sick. Financial signs that someone has crossed the line to animal hoarding are:

  • Bringing in more pets even though they can barely feed the pets they have (or worse, can't feed the pets they have.)
  • Not being able to spay or neuter pets, so they are quickly multiplying.
  • Multiple pets being ill-illnesses quickly spreading.

There Is Not Enough Space

Often times animal hoarders will have way too many animals packed into too small of a space. This could look like way too many animals indoors, or too many big animals like horses in the same pasture. People who hoard animals may not be able to see that their homes are filthy and animals are sick, it is a psychiatric disorder. These people may keep bringing in animals even though they simply do not have the room or resources. Even though their other animals are suffering, they think that they are saving the animals that they take in. Signs that there is not adequate space for your pets include:

  • Animals fighting and being defensive over their space.
  • A strong smell of ammonia in the home, and there may be noticeable animal waste that has not been cleaned up.
  • Animals are unable to get enough exercise and move freely.
  • Some hoarders don't even know how many animals they have.

Their House Is Filthy and Deteriorating

Having too many pets can wreak havoc on a home. Usually, when you walk into a home with this problem you can immediately smell the ammonia from the urine and feces. There may be holes in the walls and floors, destroyed furniture, and many unhealthy-looking animals. The awful smell and house that never seems to get clean can be an early sign that the number of pets is getting out of control. Signs that there are too many animals in a home include:

  • A strong smell from animal waste.
  • Destroyed floors, walls, and furniture.
  • Animals and people in the home in poor health.

They Are Unable to Give All the Animals Individual Attention

At this point, the number of animals has gotten completely out of hand. Hoarders may have no clue how many animals they have, which ones are sick, and what each individual pet needs. Pets that need veterinary attention are not likely to receive it, and the owner definitely won't be able to keep up with all of their needs. This takes away a lot of the joy of having pets, there isn't enough time to bond with each animal. Signs that a pet owner has gotten to this point include:

  • Not being able to spend individual time with each pet.
  • Having sick pets and not noticing.
  • Pets not receiving the exercise that they need.
  • Not being able to keep track of each animal, sometimes to the extent of not knowing how many there are.

People Are Legitimately Concerned for You

If loved ones approach this topic with you they may be able to see something that you can't. People who hoard animals don't know that they have a problem, but it is harmful to both the animals and the owner. If people you care about seem to be concerned about your emotional well-being and the health of the animals in your care, it might be time to ask yourself some hard questions.

Most animal hoarders come from a good place, they want to save as many animals as they can. However, each person only has a limited amount of time, energy, and resources.

How to Help an Animal Hoarder

Animal hoarding is a very serious situation that affects about 250,000 animals a year. If you know that someone is hoarding animals, it is best to seek help. There are ways that you can help both the animals and the person hoarding them. You can help by:

  • Helping the owner through strong family support, the support of the community, and professional help. Explain why it is so important to take action now.
  • Calling your local veterinarian, animal control, or law enforcement office.
  • File a report online in the instance of animal cruelty.


This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 Jess H