05/17/2011 at 01:00 PM EDT
As Nicole Richie's fashion empire has steadily grown, so too has her family.
She's already mom to daughter Harlow, son Sparrow, and an Abyssinian cat named Gypsy
. But recently, the former reality-TV star's brood expanded – exponentially – when she found herself the accidental adopted mom of a pack of stray cats.
The self-declared "huge pet person" couldn't resist taking in a stray cat
called Tabby (full name: Tabitha Jones Madden) when the feline began hanging around her LA-based home last summer.
"She doesn't really let me touch her or him, so I don't know [if Tabby is male or female]," Richie told PEOPLEPets.com while promoting her Winter Kate and House of Harlow 1960 collections at Nordstrom Fashion Island in Newport Beach, Calif. "I call her a 'her' because she's beautiful."
Tabby lives outdoors, except when Richie's husband Joel Madden is away. "When Joel leaves town, I let her come inside," Richie confessed.
The only problem with the newest addition to the family was that she was bringing along the whole neighborhood at dinner time.
"I think cats have big mouths," Richie joked. "She spread the word and then came back with a black cat and an orange cat. I was like, 'Oh, no, no, no – this isn't happening!' So then I stopped [feeding them all], and then she started coming back [alone]."
Tabby's gang of strays is no sweat to Richie's longtime kitty companion, Gypsy, who has been with the star since her single days.
"She's really friendly," Richie said of the indoor feline. "She's like a dog. She's really great. She's very patient. She's definitely a part of the family." See more celebrities and their pets on PEOPLEPets.com:Joe Jonas Wants His Dog to Play Piano The Beckhams Welcome a Girl – A French Bulldog Puppy!