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How Many Cats Can You Own in Pennsylvania?

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

cat playing with owner

Pennsylvania has strict regulations regarding the type and number of animals you can own and how they can be treated. When it comes to domestic cats, it depends on the city or county.

How many cats can you own in Pennsylvania? It varies by municipality, though there’s not a clear number of cats you can legally own. Curious to know more? Continue reading this article to learn more about Pennsylvania laws and pet cats.

Pennsylvania Pet Ordinance

Pittsburgh, one of the state’s major cities, has a strict ordinance that states, “No person or residence shall be permitted to own, harbor, or maintain more than five (5) dogs or cats, or any combination thereof, within the borough limits.”

Yet, in 1994, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court struck down the ordinance limiting the number of pets an owner could keep on a single residence. One pet owner had cats numbering in the high teens to low thirties. She appealed to the Commonwealth Court, arguing that there wasn’t sufficient evidence showing that her ownership affected the community’s health, safety, or welfare.

The ordinance arose to prevent nuisances or a risk to public health, safety, or welfare. But the concern is that basing ownership on numbers isn’t valid since someone could have two cats and neglect them or 50 cats and care for them well.

Ultimately, the borough failed to show a relationship between the number of cats per residence and the control of nuisance or public health risks. In addition, it’s challenging for the borough to correctly identify the number of strictly indoor cats in a residence and how they may affect the public health or safety of the community.

Cat waking up its owner sleeping in bed
Image Credit: Kasefoto, Shutterstock

A Note on Animal Cruelty Laws

While there may not be a definitive limit to the number of cats in a household, there are strict laws regarding animal welfare and neglect.

According to 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 5531 – 5561, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3129, and 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8340.3, PA laws cover the neglect of animals and states that the person who cares for the animal must provide:

  • Necessary sustenance and potable water
  • Access to clean and sanitary shelter and protection from weather
  • Necessary veterinary care

In addition, the law states that a person who commits cruelty to animals by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly ill-treating, overloading, beating, abandoning, or abusing an animal. Aggravated cruelty is covered by Sec. 5534 and is defined by torture, neglect, or cruelty that causes bodily injury or death, which is a third-degree felony.

So, while the number of cats is theoretically unlimited in certain municipalities, the state has the legal right to remove cats from negligent or abusive homes according to the law. Presumably, the number of cats isn’t as important as their care and treatment.

cat laying on owners lap
Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock

Conclusion

Pennsylvania has murky laws regarding the number of cats you can own in a single household, and even the local law as written can be challenged. Ultimately, the care of the cats is more valid than the number, provided they are indoor cats and don’t pose a risk to public health and safety.

If you want to check into the number of cats you can legally own in Pennsylvania, it’s best to contact your local municipality and check on the ordinances to abide by the law. Furthermore, cats must be properly cared for and free from neglect or abuse, which is more important than the number of cats owned in a household.

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Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

Authored by

Nicole is a lover of animals of all sizes but is especially fascinated with the feline variety. She’s the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese, and works every day so he can relax in the sunshine or by the fire. She’s always had a cat in her home and has spent countless days with others, observing behaviors and softening up even the grouchiest of the lot. Nicole wants to share her kitty expertise with you so you and your cat ...Read more

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