Because I volunteer at an animal shelter, my home is always full of animals.
That is why when I tell people they should get a cat or a dog and they say, “Oh, I already have one.”
I can’t help but think, “One, just one?”
For most people in my situation, having one animal in the home is just not an option.
Sometimes I think having one pet would be a luxury.
Most times, I can’t imagine not having a furry body covering almost every square inch of liveable space.
Most shelters will only adopt out kittens in pairs, unless you already have a feline or two in your home.
Research has shown that kittens thrive if they have a playmate to keep them occupied.
The same would be true for puppies, or any other social being.
Leaving any baby alone at home all day while you go to work just doesn’t give them the interaction they so desperately need when they are little.
Older animals also appreciate the company of other animals in the house.
Recently, on Youtube I found a series on animals being interviewed about being an only pet. My favorite is a guinea pig who would like a pet turtle for a friend so he could watch him stick his head in and out all day long.
At the end of the clip the Guinea Pig simply says, “Being an only pet sucks”.
I would argue that, for the most part, this is true.
However, the number of pets you can have in your life depends on many factors, such as your lifestyle, the size of your home, and the other humans that inhabit it.
Overcrowding can be just as stressful as loneliness. Many cats, for example, are very territorial, and at Katie’s Place we have numerous cats who would do best in a one-cat home.
Multiple cats require multiple litters, multiple sleeping quarters, and multiple feeding stations. If you live in an apartment this may not be possible. Over the years I have figured out that my home is most comfortable with three cats. That is our ideal number, not the actual one.
While, for the most part, animals learn to co-exist and accept newcomers, it is always a good idea to think ahead and adopt more than one right away instead of trying to introduce new animals down the road.
So if you are going to your local shelter to bring home a new family member, consider bringing more than one.
This is not to say that you can’t add to your family over the years, but you have to realize this will require a bit of extra effort on your part.
Make sure you read up on introducing new pets to the existing ones before you bring a new pet home.
Take a look around your home. How many places do you have for a litter box? How many rooms are you willing to have animals in? Is there a space in the house you would prefer to have all to yourself, and if so can access to it be animal proofed? Can three dogs lounge easily in your living room, or would that pretty much require you to move all your furniture out?
Only you can determine how many animals can share your home without stepping on each other’s toes.
Too many animals lose their homes because that one extra puppy or kitten just put the others over the edge.
Unfortunately, for the most part, it’s the old-timers that end up at our shelter, not the new additions.
On the other hand, keep in mind that animals get lonely just like humans, and the company of other animals can be just as rewarding for them as our company.
So find that ideal balance.
One may not be enough, but eight can be too many.
Magdalena Romanow is a volunteer at Katie’s Place animal shelter in Maple Ridge.