Having a loyal pet companion while living in a rental is possible, but how many dogs, cats or other domesticated friends should you have? If you've spoken with your landlord about your building's pet policy and gotten the green light, the next step is to determine whether you can handle renting a house with multiple pets.
How many pets is too many?
Sorry to break the news, but there's no clear-cut rule on this. Instead, you really need to use your best judgment. First, consider the space that you have available. It's much easier to keep multiple pets in a larger apartment or rental home than in a studio.
No matter how much you bathe your dogs or change the litter box, pet stink tends to grow exponentially, particularly in very close quarters. Plus, every pet is going to contribute to wear and tear on the rental, so there's that to consider when thinking about renting a house or apartment with multiple pets.
Care and cost
You must also consider the level of care you can give your furry friends. Are you gone for most of the day, or do you enjoy time-consuming hobbies that Fido can't ride along for? Pets require lots of attention, and you don't want them to languish at home. Don't forget that every pet you add to your collection is going to result in additional cost in the form of food, toys, vet bills and so on.
Incidentally, animal hoarding is (perhaps surprisingly) a very real thing — there are even TV shows about it! Some experts define it as the point when you no longer have the ability to adequately care for your pets because you're overwhelmed by sheer volume. We've all seen the stories on the evening news of the woman housing 27 cats — you don't want to be that person.
The deal with dogs
Of course, the number of acceptable pets differs for each individual, and it has a great deal to do with what type of pets you have. Dogs, for example, require much more care and tend to be noisier than fish, birds or cats.
Dogs must be walked and groomed and require a great deal of your time and attention. Low-maintenance breeds are best if you have a small apartment and a busy lifestyle. Often, it's a good idea to have two dogs, so that they can keep each other company during your workday, but tread carefully because they can get each other riled up, which your neighbors probably won't appreciate.
Although cats may not need as much attention as dogs, their litter box is a factor when renting a house with multiple pets. The Humane Society recommends one litter box per cat, plus one. If you have three cats, that means you should scatter four separate litter boxes around your home. That's an awful lot of litter for a small apartment or home.
To keep your apartment smelling fresh despite the habits of your feline friend, purchase scented, scoopable litter. It's easy to clean and will keep the odor to a minimum as long as you scoop it regularly (the Humane Society says that daily is best). Many litter types are even flushable! For seriously low-maintenance care, invest in an automatic, self-cleaning litter box.
This could all be a moot point if your apartment or rental home sets a cap on the number of pets that it allows. Landlords that accept multiple pets may only allow one dog per apartment but may permit several smaller animals, such as cats or fish.
When apartment hunting, you'll commonly come across the landlord's policy on pet ownership in the property listing. If not, make sure you ask them before your first viewing what the rules are about renting a house or apartment with multiple pets. There's typically a fee involved, which can range anywhere from a one-time payment of $50, to a flat fee of $300, plus an additional $50 per month. If that rate is per pet, the fees can really add up.
If you have roommates, you'll also want to have a conversation with them about how many pets they feel would be “too many." Picture yourself in their shoes: You find the perfect place online, see it in person and fall in love. The day you move in, however, you find your roommate has seven dogs and, guess what, you're allergic to dog hair. Not fun. So, ask your potential roommates if they have any health reasons for living pet-free.
If there aren't any allergies or phobias involved, get a sense of how many animals they can handle in the shared apartment. Never purchase or adopt a new pet without running it by your roommate first. Even if they're cool with your menagerie, remember that it's still your job to care for your pets. Expecting your roommate to walk the dogs daily or scoop litter is unreasonable and will probably land you in hot water pretty quickly.
Know your limits when renting a house with multiple pets
In the end, it's all about what you can handle in terms of care, cost and keeping the place hygienically clean. Be honest and realistic in your approximations because it's not fair to you, your pets or roommates if you bite off more than you can chew.
Just make sure you don't have so many pets that they can unite against you because that would be so very bad. The stuff of nightmares, really.