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How many cats can you own?

how many cats can you own

The debate of how many feline friends are permissible by law in the United States is not an uncommon one. Tracing back in history, the United States was never endowed with cat-related federal regulations due to what was then considered a lack of their intrinsic value. To date, there are no distinguished national codes for cats apart from the generalized pet laws defined in the Animal Welfare Act.

What does this mean for cat lovers in the United States? Do you get to keep as many cats as you would like? Quite frankly, no. The state laws may not have a word in the cat count for every household; however, municipal and local laws do. Most local states have regulations regarding cat keeping. Contrary to the disbelief, local governments have these laws in place not because they dislike the feline species but because they are looking to safeguard the cats and their communities. With fifty states in the US, breaking down each state’s laws will be challenging, so here is a delve into six of the most and least cat-friendly states in America.


 Most Cat Friendly States in the US



Oregon is rated top five in the most cat-friendly states in the United States; this outlook is according to the state’s lenient cat ownership laws. Portland, Oregon, permits its residents to have up to five cats so long as they can afford to look after them following the Animal Welfare Act. Before you get too excited, you should know that Oregon prides itself on comprehensive laws and severe penalties when it comes to animal protection.


Illinois has taken first place for eleven years in a row now when it comes to animal protection. However strict their laws, Illinois is recognized as one of the most cat-friendly places in the United States. The state allows ownership of up to four cats- this notion is not exclusively based on cat ownership, but cat supporting facilities as well as vigorous enforcement of animal cruelty bylaws to look out for your furry friend.


Florida is one of the best states to tag along with your feline companion, local states rules allowing ownership of up to three cats per household. You would also be thrilled to learn that the cat laws in Florida, however uptight they may seem, prioritize keeping you and your cat safe.


Least Cat Friendly States in the US



California is not that popular a state for cats, with their code of ordinances strictly prohibiting ownership of over three cats per household. California is also not sufficiently endowed with pet-friendly facilities such as veterinary services, parks, and cat accommodating restaurants or residentials.


The state of Iowa tags at six cats count per household; however, the state falls short of cat serving laws. With barely a handful of cat-related bylaws, Iowa may not be the best environment to nurture your clowder of cats in, despite the lenient ownership count.


Utah sports a 24.6 percentage in its pet population, rating as one of the least cat-friendly states in America. Utah is unpopular when it comes to cats and pets due to its laws- most of which do not sufficiently safeguard them. When it comes to cat ownership, the state allows sheltering of up to four cats per household. Cat lovers may be quickly blindsided by the high number of pets the state permits; however, the environment you put these cats in may ultimately not be the best for them.


Cat Ownership Laws Beyond the United States Borders


Cat ownership codes vary from state to state all across America; the notion is no different globally. Most countries have different comprehensive laws that rule on cats; for some, the laws are federal while others maintain them locally. While attempting to distinguish cat-related doctrines on a broader aspect, this section will briefly analyze laws around owning a cat and the mentioned penalties in different states worldwide.



In Australia, the ruling for cat ownership is five per household; however, this number is negotiable. For instance, the number of cats one can own per household can change based on your land’s size. Individuals with 4000 to 20,000 square meters are at liberty to hold five cats so long as they can afford to perform their legal duties- caregiving, health, and welfare. That is not all; if you are a cat lover and five seems to be a number limiting all the furry love you can get, then the state laws allow for the application of a permit to own more.


Canada has approximately 7.9 million cats and records 38% of households owning cats. Despite the impressive number of cat owners in Canada, cat laws are pretty scarce. With several municipalities across Canada, a uniform cat ownership limit is hard to come by. Toronto bylaws, for example, allow a limit of six cats per household- this number varies throughout the cities. Canada’s cat laws are essentially no different from America, focusing on anti-cruelty, poisoning, abandonment, and negligence. In a case where the cat owner fails to adhere to the stipulated law, they stand to face a jail term not exceeding two years or fines of up to $5000. The Canadian government is also eligible to impound and seize your pets over hoarding and consequential negligence.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom stands as one of the most lenient countries for cat and pet laws, with a population of 10.9 million cats. As of now, there is no stated limit to the number of cats one can have in the United Kingdom so long as one can cater to the cats’ health and welfare; this includes love, affection, vaccination, and compulsory veterinary visits, among others. UK cat laws are very standard. Until 2010 the parliament was looking to restrict the number of cats to ten per household under the Ownership of Felines. Until then, the United Kingdom’s city of England would let you have up to eighty-seven felines.


Most states lack a sufficiently endowed act for cats. With over fifty states in America, it is evident that most national governments cannot draft and enforce cat bylaws; each state also varies in its cat population and available resources. Generally, the permissible feline cat per household ranges from one to six at most for most countries; however, this is variable from state to state depending on your residential complex rules, among other factors.


Similarly, there are no standard penalties surrounding cat ownership; each government has created its legal repercussions for animal hoarding. Regarding global Animal Welfare Acts, penalties for most animal charges could vary from an in-county jail term to court-ordered counseling or fines of up to 20,000 dollars and permanent confiscation of the animal by law- these penalties differ from one state to the other. Regardless of the repercussion put in place, most states’ laws only seek to look out for your furry friend.

Check out our animal law page for similar articles!

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