Hi! I’m Gia and I have seven cats.” That was my introduction in 2015 as I joined a gathering of cat people for one cool and crafty afternoon. At that time, I was already feeling like an anomaly, having had more than five. And when they asked me what it was like to have seven cats, I shared that it felt like I was a zookeeper.
Breathe in, breathe out. Let’s go back to the present moment. Today, I have fifteen cats — all spayed and neutered, of course. They are living in a room I built for them with amenities to make life harmonious and happy. I’m feeling less a zookeeper and more a full-time mother.
A massively multi-cat household is not for the faint of heart, but it will challenge and improve one’s creativity.
I decided early on to invest more on food by combining wet and dry food for every meal. They eat twice a day and they have their own bowls. Every mealtime, the cats are divided into two batches so I can watch over their food intake. It is essential that I can see if they finish their food. We also have water bowls spread around the place that we always keep fresh.
Choosing food over cat litter, I just use newspaper and old magazines for their litter boxes. Although I did choose the economical way, we have a total of twenty-three litter boxes that I change daily. I did go overboard but having more is always a nice thing.
Sometimes, I will find that some cats tend to sleep on the clean litter boxes as well. I can proudly say that I have somehow managed to master wrapping each litter tray like a gift.
Making our space cat-friendly came first. When I successfully finished sneaking in my cats one by one into the house, I decided to convert an unused space beside my bedroom to fashion a little cat room. I thank my lucky stars for we had many scraps of wood waiting to be reclaimed and turned into shelves. A secondhand fishing net also helped close off the area and at the same time gave free viewing for both cats and humans.
I also made use of our garden caimito tree trunks as climbing and scratching posts. Any material I could use – an old computer table or bar cart or anything that could mimic a perch — I continued to add to their room.
We now have hammocks, cat walks, and many ways to access each area. Cats are highly territorial and an abundance of spaces they can claim to their hearts’ desire is the secret to world peace.
I’m lucky that I can have several sections in my area of the house, so that I can segregate the cats as needed. I have four cats that are always with me even as I work, because they prefer a human companion and can’t get comfortable inside the cat room no matter how hard I try. I have office space that also doubles as an isolation space where I set up a recovery area (usually a big crate) for when a cat gets sick.
Having fifteen fluffy butts to take care of can feel overwhelming, but I take comfort in these repetitive, mundane tasks that help me step out of my desk to gather my thoughts. These mommy duties are somehow therapeutic for me. I’m the type of creative person that gets most of my ideas doing ordinary chores.
Cats thrive in routine and are sensitive to the timing of their meals and to clean litter boxes. I may be a good candidate to run such a multi-cat household as I wholeheartedly love cleaning and channeling the great Marie Kondo.
It might look chaotic from another person’s perspective to have fifteen cats to care for, or one may just borrow my view when 88 percent of them come rushing to me as I visit them in their room. Why 88 percent, you might ask? These are cats after all, and to command the presence of all the cats at the same time is an impossible act… unless you have treats.
Answering the burning questions
They all have names and they even have a multitude of nicknames each. I know every single one of them and can tell them apart.
Most of my cats are all adopted puspin cats (domestic shorthairs). They fight like human siblings, but it’s nothing that cannot be settled by dedicated areas and food.
Yes, I can say I’m good where we’re at. I have 15 cats named Mini, Creamo, Hiro, Coco, Earl, CC, Orange, Gitoy, Fighter, Chuyi, Maldi, Barbie, Beauty, Mark, and Bunny; and I’m not taking in any more. Just be careful and please let’s not speak of it too loudly lest the universe hears and hands me down another cat.
Apart from providing for their basic needs, I try to pay attention to each cat. A little pat here and there, then I observe them and give them the quality of attention they like. Cats are energy-filled beings and some, if without the opportunity to expend energy through play, may pick up fights with other cats.
As I am also an important resource and a limited one, I make sure to spend quality time with myself to recharge. Meditation has been very helpful, as well as spending time alone and not sharing my room with them 24/7. Of course, there is nothing like sleeping next to a cat, or a multitude of cats.
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s April 2019 issue.