Is it illegal to have too many cats? This is a very general location unspecific question. The answer depends on the location and other things. And it is impossible to be absolutely precise because it would mean making a list of all the cities and counties in America or in any other country and checking the animal laws for those places.
There are two ways to control the number of cats a person can keep, (1) limit the number under the law and (2) use the existing animal welfare laws to punish people who keep a lot of cats but are unable to look after them properly.
There are many cities and counties in the US which limit the number of cats you can own. Other cities and counties are debating the introduction of such a law. Residents of Omaha, Nebraska can own five cats. Pittsburgh residents can own five pets. Perhaps the size of the home and grounds dictate the limit as in Dallas.
If you want an answer to the question: “Is it illegal to have too many cats?” You’ll have to phone your local authority or look it up on the internet.
Five is the limit?
Where there are no limits you’ll have to be aware of animal welfare laws, at federal, state and at local authority level. They all make it a crime to neglect cats to the point where they suffer pain, distress and injury. Keeping a lot of cats can lead to neglect both wanton and through neglect. If animal welfare laws are enforced, in effect, they set a flexible limit on the number of cats a person can keep. This limit is not based on arbitrary numbers but on the ability of the owner to care for her cats. Ultimately this is a better form of control because at its core the restrictions on ownership are about animal welfare.
It appears that the lawmakers have deemed five to be the upper limit to the number of cats an individual can own which is pretty arbitrary which makes me wonder how they arrived at that figure. These limits were perhaps prompted by the well publicized cases across the US concerning cat hoarders; people who lose the ability to manage their cats through lack of coping skills or mental health problems. Cat hoarding is an extension of any form of item hoarding.