As many of you may already know, we have 6 cats. They are our little fluff balls of joy. Each has an incredible back story of how they came into our lives. You can learn more in our Meet the Cats article or video where I look at how they came into our lives and those who are no longer with us. They are all a big part of our journey. For this article though, I want to talk a bit about what it is like living with 6 cats, particularly in an apartment.
Finding an Apartment for 6 Cats
First off, the toughest part of having 6 cats that rely on you is finding an apartment that will take 6 cats. If you are buying it of course no issue but if you are renting like us, it can be a challenge finding a suitably sized apartment that is affordable. Many agents won’t even show you the property or straight up just put the phone down on you at the mention of 6 cats. That has in fact happened to us on a few occasions.
We have found it best to go for places that are being leased by the owner directly. This way you can have a conversation with them about the cats and they have a chance to meet you. By meeting you directly you can explain your situation and they will get to know you as a person a bit better in order to make a decision. The other advantage, something my husband brought up, was having the landlord/lady meet the cats. When we had our current landlady meet the cats before we moved in, she immediately relaxed as she could see that the property was kept well and so were the cats.
When we moved to Italy from South Africa, it was not possible to make these kinds of choices. We had to go with what we found in our price range. Unfortunately, that ended badly and created a tough situation for us. So my advice is to definitely meet the landlord in person and view the property if at all possible. Make sure you can do the necessary adjustments to the apartment in order for the cats not to get out or disrupt other tenants.
Some Down Sides to So Many Cats
Living on a farm in South Africa, it was not terribly difficult to have 6 cats. They had loads of space to play, hunt, sleep and have their own territories. They also mainly did their bathroom business outside. Meaning we had less to deal with inside and we only needed two litter boxes for the evenings when we brought them inside. In the morning they would be back outside doing their thing.
Now that we are in Italy and living in an apartment, things are a little different. The general rule is to have one extra litter box for the number of cats you have. In other words, 7 litter boxes in our case. It can be tricky fitting all those litter boxes into an apartment. Especially if you consider the fact that we need the extra large ones since 3 of our cats are large cats and simply don’t fit in the smaller ones. Mind you, I think regular sized litter boxes are better suited to kittens in any case. Cleaning all of these litter boxes can be quite gross sometimes. For the most part, they are average but every now and then one of them has a truly disgusting bowel movement. It can ruin your morning.
Cats have a tendency to vomit as well. They do it for a few reasons. One of them being for hairballs. That is another aspect we have to deal with fairly often. On occasion it can be pretty darn gross. Having cat grass available for them makes it much easier. It is good for them and they actively search for it. So I would certainly advise having cat grass for your cats. We have used old litter boxes that are large enough for them to lie down in as well. They seem to enjoy being able to sit on the grass.
Then there is the hair. Cats shed like all of us, they just shed a lot. Change of seasons and getting a fright are two reasons cats shed their fur. It can create quite the carpet if you are not on the ball with vacuuming the fur up. At times when we have been too busy to get to the vacuuming properly it can build up and make breathing a little harder. A quick vacuum every second day and a deep clean once a week usually does the trick.
The Upsides of Living with Cats
There is never a dull moment with cats around. They all have rather different personalities. Finding ways to give them all the attention they need is challenging but rewarding. One thing that sits at the top of my mind constantly is that they all needed a home. We never went searching for cats, we never decided to specifically take on the cats. Each one of them came into our lives looking for a home. They were all hungry and left with no help. As good people with hearts of gold, both of us took them in and gave them a home. A home where they are safe, cared for, and never wanting. None of the downsides actually matter from that perspective.
I get snuggles every day and I learn more and more about so many wonderful cat behaviours. They can be brave, skittish, timid, not bright, smart, placid, full of spunk, and so much more. They are complex creatures with diverse personalities. They are absolutely fun to be around. I feel lucky to be able to have the company. I was here in Italy for three weeks before I had human company. They were there, they held me a night while we slept, I held them when they felt insecure, and we made this country our new home together. Waiting for my husband to come and meet us.
From a chronic illness perspective, they bring me so much joy. They brighten up my day and often make the pain seem frivolous. I care for them deeply and that allows me to have something to focus on. To know that those bad days and hard work are not just for me to survive but also to be there for them. They are my family. I love it went they snuggle with me on days I feel terrible and I am a little heartbroken when they prefer to sit on their own. Watching them grow and encouraging them to do things they would not have dreamed to do is what makes it all worth it. Knowing that they are so much better off living with us and that I am so much better off having them here.