I have four pets - two cats and two dogs - and they are my joy! I love coming home to all four of them. They greet me with enthusiasm at the door every time time I come home, and that always puts a smile on my face.
This said - I will never have more than one pet (preferably, a dog) again.
OK, don't look at me with evil eyes. I know what you're thinking! "Why, as a dog trainer, would you make such a bold statement?"
Well, actually, I have three very good reasons. Let me explain:
I like to travel. My friends and family don't believe me, because I rarely travel, but I really do. With four pets though, it is extremely difficult to find a trustworthy house/pet sitter (and no, I will NOT ever consider boarding any of them, too stressful for them and me). So I rarely travel. If I had one pet, it would be so much easier. I could even take my pet with me or ask a family member to babysit this "one" pet at their house. But, asking to babysit four pets (especially two that are cats) is not feasible.
Dogs feed off of each other! One barks, they all bark, one jumps, they all jump, and so on. I LOVE walking my dogs. As a trainer, I am a HUGE advocate of taking your dog for a daily walk. Behaviorally, it's really helpful, not to mention, it's very healthy too. But, walking more than one dog can be exhausting and frustrating. Not to say you can't have that experience with just one dog, but managing and working with one dog is much easier than trying to do that with multiple dogs on a walk. And, the difficulty of taking each dog at separate times for their walks so that the behaviors can be corrected can be time-consuming.
With cats some may get finicky sharing their litter-box. So multiple cat boxes may be required. Some cats can be very dominate in their household behavior too. Cat behavior can be more difficult to manage and correct than dog behavior.
The more pets you have, the more costly it can be. For example, one of my cats has a serious gastrointestinal issue and has to be on special cat food. This alone costs me $150 a month - just for him. No, I would not consider adopting him out or euthanizing him. Those options, well, are not options. With this special food, he is happy and normal as can be! My total food bill a month is approximately $300 for all four pets. All my pets are of geriatric age, so this means medicine, medicine, and yes, more medicine. If you travel, boarding or hiring a pet-sitter can add up. K-CHING!
And about government assistance - yes, I am going to go here. I belong to many rescue sites on social media. I promote, engage, encourage, and believe that adoption is the best option! However, I can't stand it when I read post from others mentioning they are on one or more of the following; disability, social security, unemployment, or many other government assistance programs and have multiple pets. They inquire about low cost spay/neuter places, cheaper brand of pet food, and the list goes on. It's great that they want to care for cats or dogs, but REALLLYYY???!!!! If you truly can't afford to support yourself without being on government assistance, having more than one pet should really be reconsidered.
With That Said, Cats Are Different from Dogs
Yes, with all this said, there is a difference between owning multiple cats and owning multiple dogs. Cats do tend to be lower maintenance pets, in general.
You do't have to take them for walks, they don't have to be let outside (avoiding many of the potential health issues dogs face), they eat less, and it's easier to travel with cats as you can leave them at home and simply have a friend come check on them for a short period twice a day to feed and water them.A dog, of course, could never be left alone all day. First off, they would require at least a minimum of 5 visits a day (potty breaks, no luxury of a litter pan).
Second, dogs are very social pets - they LOVE humans and need more human interaction than cats require. Meanwhile, cats, being naturally more independent, can have their social needs fairly adequately met with just a cat buddy in our absence of a few days or so. (More on the benefits of owning more than one cat in my blog "Four Reasons Why Two Cats Are Better Than One")
But STILL, while cats and dogs may not be exactly the same challenge, drawbacks to a mutli-cat household remain. Personalities might clash, and expenses and care needs increase. All this has to be taken into consideration. (For tips on keeping the peace in a multi-cat household, please check out this article from the Feline 101 blog - "Multi-Cat Home: Understanding (And Keeping Peace!) in the Feline Hierarchy")
When it comes to cats vs dogs in the multi-household debate, I think it's more of a matter of extent - the difficulties in owning more than one cat are less than the difficulties in owning more than one dog. BUT that doesn't mean they aren't there.
Be Honest With Yourself
Before you start "barking" at me though, this is a personal decision. It doesn't make anyone "wrong" or "right", it just depends on the best situation for them, their family, and lifestyle. I know for me, one pet fits much more comfortably. I hope others consider their lifestyle too, before taking on a multi-pet household.