Having moved a bunch of different times with my husband and our pet cat, Avery, I’ve learned a thing or two, not just about making moves easy on cats, but also about how to make do and keep kitties happy in small spaces.
If living in tight quarters with a cat is something you’re worried about as it’s not something you’ve done before – don’t worry it’s actually not as bad as you might think, even if you’re in a studio apartment. There are some things you should always be mindful of, plenty of tips and tricks you can implement to keep a house cat happy and entertained, but all in all, while it may be a tad more difficult to keep an indoor cat happy inside a smaller living space – it’s completely doable with some good planning and not much effort besides.
If you’re already living in a small apartment and just want to make life all the better for your house cat, you’re definitely in the right place, too!
I’ve broken this article down into different sections to make it easier for you to browse. Some things you probably already do or had in mind, but I’m hoping you find at least some new ideas you can implement to help make your kitty’s apartment life happier.
Okay, so here we go!
Picture from post Home Tour: Our Flat is Practically an Ikea Showroom
Part I: How to Keep Cats Safe & Healthy in Apartments
1. Make sure it’s not easy for your cat to jump out the window.
Back in Canada, this was an easy one considering we never really had to deal with it. All windows had insect screens on them, and my cat is the type to never really scratch on them or try to push past them considering we discouraged that behaviour early on when we adopted him.
Here in the UK, things are a lot tougher. There are no insect screens anywhere – they’re very uncommon (actually haven’t seen one home that’s got them since being here!), and so we have to be much more careful. Luckily for us, we ended up in a flat that has small windows along the top with tall windows lined at the bottom (it’s hard for me to describe, but you can see what I mean here), and so when we need to open windows, we only open the top ones that are not easily within our cat’s reach.
We were worried Avery would try to climb up to sit at the top of the window, but considering we discourage him from putting his paws on the windows at all, this hasn’t ever happened. There are cat screens available on the market, but none we found looked truly cat-proof, and a lot of them seemed to have the potential of damaging the windows, so it’s sticking to opening just the top windows for us, unless we find a good fix. If you’ve found a good product that remedies this issue, by the way, please leave a comment down below telling me what it is, or if you DIY-ed a solution, how you did it. Would greatly appreciate it!
2. Make sure to sweep &/or vacuum often.
There’s nothing like a large living space to spread out the insane volume of hair cats shed to the point where you barely notice it. Not true of a small apartment/flat.
If you’ve got carpeting in your flat/apartment, cat hair is not likely to be as much of an issue for you as it would be if you had hardwood or laminate flooring, like we have – since carpeting means the cat hair will stick to the floor and almost disappear into the carpet, until it’s time to vacuum that is.
Also vents – the central air vents in Canada I’m pretty sure took a lot of cat hair down with them. Here in the UK where central air isn’t common, I find that I have to sweep much more often. I end up seeing tufts of hair dancing around the flat like tumbleweed even after a single day. If this is allowed to collect for too long, kitty’s going to be swallowing more cat hair, which could be bad news for his/her health. Assume when you move into a small space with kitty that you’ll need to be sweep/vacuum much more often.
You can also regularly brush your cat with a deshedding tool to help you have less to sweep overall, though if I’m honest, you’re going to have to sweep/vacuum anyway.
3. Make sure there’s plenty for your cat to scratch on.
This is an issue that every cat owner will have to deal with, not just we small-space dwellers. What exactly can you do to ensure your cat has plenty to scratch on when you’re living in small quarters? Try investing in some of these everyday items that work as alternatives to scratching posts.
4. Make sure there’s plenty to keep kitty stimulated/entertained passively.
This is important for every house cat owner to do, but especially important for those of us who live in small spaces, seeing as how there’s likely to be a lot less for kitty to get up to than if your house was larger (less bugs to hunt, less windows to switch back and forth from, all that jazz).
Passively entertaining your indoor cat isn’t impossible to do. It’s a pain initially, while you set up your home to make sure it gets done, but there really is quite a bit you can do to make sure your cat hasn’t got problems staying stimulated in a small apartment. My favourite tricks: suction bird feeders that stick to the outside of your window and a closed aquarium so that your cat always has something interesting besides birds to watch.
I have put together a post on this, so if you’d like some more ideas on the topic, please check out this article here: Bored Kitty? Hands-Off Ways to Keep an Indoor Cat Entertained.
Picture from post Closet Kitty
Part II: How to Make Your Apartment Feel Bigger to Cats
5. Arrange furniture so kitty can easily jump from one piece to the next.
Not every piece of furniture in your home has to be kitty approved, but if you’re fine with your cat jumping onto a specific dresser or two, make it easy for him/her! How can you do this? Push shorter cat-approved furniture next to taller furniture; make it so that kitty can jump from one short dresser to the next, or have something like a sofa back next to a tall dresser.
Cats don’t care whether the space they have is horizontal or vertical. Sure, humans care, we can’t jump onto mantelpieces to chill for a while, but cats can. If you make it easy for your cat to climb high into enough spots throughout your apartment, your cat will be happy in even the smallest of apartment spaces.
6. Add cat furniture to your home that will further increase the number of spaces kitty can spend time in.
It also, however, entails adding lesser-thought-of cat furniture to your apartment like a cat perch/window seat that you can move around from one height and one window to the next.
7. Make a number of kitty-sized nooks and crannies for your cat to nap in.
These spaces interspersed throughout the apartment can really help kitty keep from getting bored and feeling that life has gotten to be a bit too redundant.
How can you make these nooks? Here are a few ideas: Try leaving the bottom of your bookshelf empty for kitty to squeeze into for naps, or making space in a corer of your closet for your cat to chill in for part of the day. Want a temporary tent to keep your cat entertained while you’re out of the house? Drape a blanket over a chair before you leave so that your cat can use the bottom section for a nap in a new place.
If you think about your apartment long and hard enough, finding spots like this should be pretty easy, especially considering how little cats are. Napping nooks don’t have to be permanent; in fact switching in and out spots will help keep things interesting for your cat. Want to be able to move around cat nooks in the blink of an eye? Have a cat cube or two and move these around to different spots in your flat every week or so.
The options are endless, and the more cat friendly spots you have in the house, the more content your cat will be in an apartment that feels small to a human, but much bigger to a cat.
Part III: How to Make Cat Cohabitation Easier on Humans
8. Invest in a quality cat litter.
Odor control can be a real issue if you live in a small space with a cat.
If you can’t stand the smell of cat pee, I’d recommend using World’s Best Cat Litter. It’s what I’ve been using for the past year or so, and considering it lasts so long with me, I don’t feel its too expensive. You can read more about World’s Best here.
If you can’t stand the smell of #2s – I’d recommend going with a walnut based cat litter. They’re also great for reducing tracking, so you won’t end up with too much litter mess on your hands to clean up over and over. The walnut litter I used to use back in Canada was Blue Buffalo’s Naturally Fresh. It was amazing – used it for years and the only reason I switched to World’s Best is because I couldn’t get a hold of Blue Buffalo products affordably here in the UK. I may like World’s Best better now, but I’m not 100% certain – they’re both pretty closely tied for me up at the #1 spot.
9. Invest in a top-entry litter box.
Mess is another litter issue you’re likely to be frustrated having to deal with in a small apartment. Easiest way to get rid of the problem? A top entry litter box. There are plenty of these on the market, and many that are actually not expensive at all. The Petmate Top Entry Litter Pan, for instance, is a really good price. And if you’re worried your cat won’t take to this seemingly tricky way of using the loo – I assure you it’s unlikely to be as difficult to get your cat to use a top-entry litter box as you might think.
10. Train your cat to stop scratching furniture.
It’s not so bad living in a huge house with plenty of furniture in it and having a cat slowly but surely destroy the furniture with scratching. By the time kitty gets through all the furniture, it’ll be time for a new set anyway. But when you’re in a flat and there isn’t much furniture to begin with, it can get a little rough watching the one couch you loved enough to buy get completely destroyed by kitty claws.
There’s a fix. You can absolutely train your cat to stop scratching furniture. Here’s how you do it.
11. Invest in a modern cat tree.
There are a lot of horrendous looking, yet incredibly practical cat trees out there, and while these eyesores may be totally welcome in a bigger home, having one in a small apartment can be pretty painful.
Some cat trees that are actually good looking: The Refined Feline Lotus Cat Tree, Designer Pet Products Sebastian Tree, & Frontpet’s Apex Cat Tree Tower. The cost of these trees is usually pretty steep, but so long as the cat tree is durable and going to last pretty much forever, I don’t mind investing in one that matches the layout of my home. Unfortunately for me, most modern cat trees are not available in the UK, so I’ve had to make do with investing in pretty options for the next section…
12. Invest in a modern cat litter box.
Yup. You knew it was coming. And you know what, you may think it’s ridiculous spending over $100 on a litter box when you could easily spend $10 on something that works just as well, but it makes a huge difference having a decent-looking litter box in a small home.
Obviously I don’t have the space to house and test more than one modern litter box being in a studio apartment, but the one I ended up grabbing – Modko Modcat Litter Box – I love. You can see my review of it here if you’re curious. It’s amazing, though I’m not going to lie, I was a touch worried before I bought it that it wouldn’t be durable or that it was just outright not worth the money, but ever since it arrived I’ve been so happy I bit the bullet and made this purchase. It is an awesome looking thing that matches my furniture perfectly, and nearly a full year later I could not possibly be more content about my decision to buy it.
Other modern litter boxes I would’ve tried out if I hadn’t been so obsessed with how much this Modcat matched my home – Clever and Modern’s Litter Box End Table, Modkat’s Flip Litter Box, & Modern Cat Design’s Litter Box Hider.
Of course I also prefer my own litter box over these because it’s top-entry, and so there’s less clean up, but that I’ve already discussed!
Thoughts on Cohabiting With House Cats in Apartments?
Have you ever lived with an indoor cat or two in a small apartment before? What was it like? Did you struggle or was it much easier than most probably expect?
Have any suggestions for other pet owners who are about to move into a small apartment with their pet, or about to adopt a pet while living in a small apartment? Share your tips with us in the comments section down below!