Keeping a cat in one room (or small studio apartment) can be done but requires some thoughtfulness. Many of us living in apartments opt for cat ownership instead of getting a dog due to space limitations and lifestyle. Owning a cat is great choice for those of us who are not able to commit to daily walks, more playtime, or have space limitations. And unlike dogs, cats actually prefer smaller spaces and tend to find hideaways and corners to retreat when they need their space. Although cats may need a little less, a cat can happily live in one room only if they have everything they need. So how can a cat live in one room anyway?
The key to keeping a cat in one room appears to be solved by well-designed cat furniture and products, and some good old-fashioned creativity. No matter how small, it is possible to have a beautiful home that both you and your cat share. Good selection and placement of cat essentials is key to having a modern yet cat-friendly home. Let's dive into the following:
- How Much Space do Cats Need
- Reasons for Keeping a Cat in One Room
- What Makes a Cat-Friendly Space
- Cat Room Ideas for Small Homes
- How to Cat Proof Your Home
How Much Space do Cats Need?
This is not an easy question to answer and really depends on the cat and how a space is being used to house them. No specific guideline exists but according to a few online sources, the general recommendation is 18 square feet. This does not take into account multiple cats so if you are planning to adopt several fur babies, you will need to be more thoughtful in your space planning.
Is it Cruel to Keep a Cat in One Room?
In case you were wondering, it is not cruel to keep a cat in one room, so long as their needs are met. And I am not just talking basic physiological needs, but the need for greater fulfillment in life as well. I am all for improving a cat’s life. The good new is, even if you are living in a small studio apartment, you can easily outfit it to be a happy home for cat living.
Some Reasons for Keeping a Cat in One Room
I am pretty sure it is not just me who has noticed that apartments in the city are getting smaller. Apartments may be getting smaller, but pet ownership continues to grow. Smaller living situations are just one of the reasons cat owners find themselves contemplating how or whether they can keep a cat in a small space. Living situation is one reason, though there are other reasons (mostly for a cat’s well-being) that can cause one to consider keeping a cat in one room.
Introducing a New Pet
Introducing a new person or pet to your home can sometimes be a stressful experience for a cat, so it is generally recommended to keep your cat or the newcomer (if a pet) confined to a room or their own private space at first. This helps prevent too sudden a change, and helps ease your pet into their new living situation. When deciding to keep a cat in a room of its own, you will need to ensure that the room is equipped with everything a cat needs (food, water, litterbox and toys). This is of course a temporary arrangement so you do not have to be too particular about space requirements. Even a bathroom can be an excellent room for a cat in these short-term situations.
Ill cats should be given their own space to rest and recuperate, away from other pets and people. They do not necessarily have to be locked away, just given a quiet and private space that is theirs when they need it. Of course, depending on the illness, confinement or complete separation may or may not be needed. A vet will advise accordingly.
Many animals, some cats included, suffer from social anxiety and prefer not to be a part of the household. They are often stressed and would rather have a space of their own that makes them feel safe and secure. This is a special case where it may make sense to keep a cat in a one separate room. The same rules apply here; the room must have everything they need.
Some people would rather not give their cat full access to their home for various reasons; whether to avoid fur cleanup in certain parts of the home, or to avoid ruined furniture or destroyed plants. In this case, they may choose to dedicate only one room or section of the house to their cat. It can be done, keeping in mind that cats have social needs and should still be given the opportunity to interact with the rest of the household.
What Makes a Cat-Friendly Space?
As I mentioned earlier, a bigger space is not necessarily what cats need. Cats prefer smaller, safer spaces to big, open areas. They love privacy, so keeping their food and litter box somewhere out of the way is a good idea. Cats also have a need to scratch. If you wish to avoid having scratched furniture, get your cat a scratching post - save your couch and please your cat. Making good use of vertical space will serve to fulfill cat’s physical and instinctual need to jump, climb and be up high. When cats want to be alone and away from distraction, they need little spaces to crawl into and hide. And let us never forget play time and social interaction!
Cat Room Ideas for Small Homes: How to Make Your Small Apartment Cat-Friendly
Having a cat in a small home is not impossible; it just takes some effort to furnish the space to meet everyone’s needs. With remote work on the rise, we need to think even more carefully about how to best share our home with our pets. Good news, there are many easy and creative ways to transform your small home into a cat-friendly space without sacrificing style. Consider the following:
Multi-functional Cat Furniture
Pet furniture that can be used as regular furniture is the best option when trying to save space while creating a cat-friendly and beautiful home. Although somewhat challenging to find local and affordable options, modern cat furniture that serve this dual purpose exist. From litter boxes disguised as cabinets to hammock glass coffee tables, you will be surprised at the versatility some modern cat furniture options offer. There are even several DIY options.
Maximize Vertical Space
When working with small spaces, it can be hard to figure out how to make the most of the square footage; even more so if you are furnishing with a cat in mind. One of the most underrated methods to maximize space in a small home is to utilize vertical space. When done thoughtfully, cat shelves and towers can fit perfectly into your home without compromising the look of your space. If done wrong, it can make a home look cramped or messy.
Making good use of vertical space sounds rather complex, but it is not. If you are looking for affordable options or an alternative to expensive cat furniture, consider making use of traditional shelving for your walls. Just make sure it is built to hold the weight of a cat and installed properly (cheap wall anchors will not do!). Check out these DIY cat shelves made with an IKEA buy:
Cat wall shelves and perches are also a great addition. High spaces give cats a sense of security and freedom that they might not find on the ground, and it appeals to their natural instincts. Plus, smaller homes have less floor space. Less floor space just means more chance of tripping over your cat. We all know the pain and guilt of stepping on a tail! Let’s avoid that.
If you are not up for a DIY or don't like the idea of drilling into your walls, you may want to consider a cat climbing pole or floor-to-ceiling cat tree. Cat towers tend to take up a lot of space because they need a base to stabilize the entire structure. Cat poles, on the other hand, are simply attached to the ceiling and floor for support. They make very good use of vertical space, taking up much less floor space.
Inconspicuous Litter Boxes
As you know, cats like their privacy, especially when it comes time to use their litter box (can you blame them?). Some cats even prefer to eat in private as well. Find a place in your home where there is not much foot traffic, with easy to access for both of you. Being accessible is important because not only does your cat need to be comfortable, but you also need to be able feed your cat and clean their litterbox easily.
Smaller homes can be a little more challenging, so I would recommend that if you can’t hide the litter box, find litter boxes that are specifically designed to be more inconspicuous and aesthetically pleasing. Smells can overpower small spaces quicker, but fear not, daily litterbox cleaning and litter deodorizers can help with that.
Space-Saving Cat Products
So far I have mentioned some space-saving cat furniture, but let’s also explore space-saving essential cat products. Take cat toys for example; when you have a cat in a small space, you will undoubtedly spot the minefield of cat toys scattered over the floor on the regular. Opt for cat toys that can be tucked away with need for little storage space. Foldable cat tunnels are an amazing option – cats love them for hiding and playing, and they fold up when not in use.
Cat carriers are notorious for taking up space when not in use, and they tend to be tacky enough that you want them out of sight. Luckily, such options like the Callisto Cat Travel Bag from Noots offer a modern design that could be mistaken for a purse! And when not in use it neatly folds away for easy storage.
Choose your cat products carefully. They should be easy to put away, take up little space, double up as something else, and have a look that compliments your space.
Interactive Cat Toys
In smaller spaces, there is less room for cats to stretch their legs and play. Interactive cat toys can offer stimulation and activity to compensate for lack of space. Automated laser cat toys and cat puzzles are fairly common cat toys in the market. Other options are self rotating balls, track butterfly toys, or even treat dispenser toys. All of them are quite small and easy to hide for small spaces.
How to Cat-Proof Your Home
I have talked a lot about what cats need in a living space, but there are also some things that should be avoided:
- Avoid clutter. Avoiding clutter will keep your cat safe from getting their paws on something that could harm them, but will also teach your cat what is and isn’t okay to play with.
- Lose cables and string should be tucked away or stored out of reach. Cats have a love for chewing these items. This is yet another safety hazard and a potentially unpleasant find when your technology no longer works. If you must, buy cable protectors made specifically for cable-chewing cats.
- Do not keep the litterbox and food/water bowls too close together. Cats are very clean and unapologetically particular animals. Make sure you keep your cats litterbox far enough from where they eat or you may be facing some deviant behavior.
Cats are very adaptable creatures, but there are a few essential things they need to live a happy, healthy domesticated life. As long as you make sure to fulfill all of your kitty’s needs (physical, emotional and instinctual) you should have no problem keeping your cat in a smaller space, even if that happens to be a tiny studio apartment. There are endless ways to make a small space comfortable and elegant while making sure it is cat-friendly.
Do you live in a smaller home with a cat(s)? How have you managed to make the space suitable for both you and your cat’s needs? Any fun DIYs? Share your experience and tips in the comment section below!