Space requirements for cats are a source of much debate. It’s only natural that we’d assume that a pet wants as much room as possible. This goes double for cats, which are very independent animals. In truth, cats are less concerned about space and more about layout.
The average domestic cat needs a minimum of 18 square feet of living space. Even the smallest of homes provide rooms with this much room. If you have two cats, you’ll need twice this requirement.
An appropriate layout is more crucial than size. Cats like to climb and hide. If your cat doesn’t have places she can retreat to, she’ll become stressed. Equally, a wide-open space will be intimidating.
- 1 How Many Square Feet of Space Do Cats Need?
- 2 Do Cats Prefer Wide, Open Living Environments?
- 3 Should I Get a Cat if I Live in an Apartment?
- 4 Do I Need Spare Rooms in My Home if I Have a Cat?
- 5 Do I Need an Outside Space if I Want to Get a Cat?
- 6 What Breeds of Cat are Best for Small Homes?
- 7 How Can I Tell if My Cat Wants More Space?
- 8 How to Make a Small Space Cat-Friendly
How Many Square Feet of Space Do Cats Need?
A lot depends on the size of your cat. Some breeds are much bigger than others. Certain breeds of feline are also more energetic and playful. This means she’ll have more room to run and jump.
You’ll always need to ensure that your home is big enough to accommodate your cat’s needs. The ASPCA recommends allowing 18 square feet of space for a cat. If you’re hoping to house multiple cats, you’ll need extra space for them.
Arguably, the most important thing for a cat is zoning. Even the biggest home can make a cat feel uncomfortable if it’s completely open plan. Cats like to hide and have spaces to call their own. Remember that cats are territorial.
Do Cats Prefer Wide, Open Living Environments?
When humans investigating a potential home, the first thing we’re drawn to is space. It may surprise you to learn that cats do not think this way.
If a cat is faced with a substantial and unpopulated living area, she’ll be uncomfortable. Felines are essentially prey animals. They like to stay hidden and not wander through open space. This makes them feel exposed.
As Romper explains, cats are more likely to gravitate toward a small, enclosed area. This is why they find cardboard boxes so irresistible. Feline instincts tell them that they’re safer in an enclosed location. It reminds them of the womb.
A small space is also warmer for a cat. The more open and wide a room, the longer it will take to warm up. Cats are descended from desert-dwelling ancestors. This means that they have a higher body temperature than humans.
This doesn’t mean that cats are uncomfortable in larger homes. It just means that their needs must be met, just like in smaller spaces. Fill a large room with hiding places and higher ground.
Should I Get a Cat if I Live in an Apartment?
Cats are happy to live in apartments. They’re certainly more appropriate pets for apartment-dwellers than dogs.
These animals have different approaches to exercise. Many canines are marathon runners. A working dog is looking to burn energy all day, every day. They’ll become frustrated in a small building.
Cats are different as they tend to reserve their energy and use it up in short, controlled bursts. This is an instinctive behavior as cats live to hunt. By not wasting energy, they’ll have enough in the tank to successfully stalk their prey.
Also, cats find safety and satisfaction in more enclosed spaces. An apartment will provide plenty of places to hide, such as cupboards and closets. This will keep most felines contented.
If you have an apartment, you should ensure that communal areas measure at least 18 square feet. This is the minimum space required for a cat. Within such confines, most felines will make themselves comfortable.
Despite this, do your homework before adopting a cat for apartment living. If she previously roamed outdoors, being cooped up inside may lead to destructive behavior.
How Big of an Apartment Do I Need for a Cat?
You’ll need around 18 square feet of space to accommodate a cat comfortably. In theory, even a studio of this size will be fine for your feline companion. In reality, we may need to offer more.
Cats need time to themselves. It’s not because they’re aloof or hate humans. They’re just introverted animals who find constant companionship and attention to be exhausting.
If your cat has nowhere to escape and recharge her batteries, she’ll grow stressed and anxious. Provide these spaces, ideally in separate rooms.
If you’re unable to offer your cat any respite from your company, you may need to reconsider. Likewise, if no rooms stretch to 18 square feet, your home may not be ideal for felines. Consider a smaller, caged pet as an alternative.
If you want to keep multiple cats, you’ll need to think carefully about space. The ASPCA’s formula breaks down as follows:
- Measure the length of a room in feet
- Multiply the width of a room in feet
- Multiply these two numbers and divide the solution by 18
- The answer tells you how many cats can comfortably share a room
For example, a room that’s 10 feet by 10 feet will be suitable for 5 cats. This is based on a sum of 100/18 equally 5.5.
Do I Need Spare Rooms in My Home if I Have a Cat?
A spare room in a small home is ideal for cat owners. There are many reasons why:
- The cat can claim the room as her own. This will help manage her territorial instincts.
- You can keep the cat’s litter tray in this room.
- The cat can be fed in this room. Most cats like privacy while they eat. Just keep the food dish far away from the litter tray.
- The cat will always have somewhere to escape to when she feels overwhelmed.
- The room can be turned into a cat gym, filled with toys and exercise equipment.
Having a spare room is beneficial if you have a cat. Need is arguably too strong a word, but there are more pros than cons.
Do I Need an Outside Space if I Want to Get a Cat?
If your cat is used to living indoors, she’ll be content remaining there. In fact, PETA thinks that all cats should be indoor cats. If you adopt a cat used to the outdoors, a yard may be a good compromise.
Outside space also helps a cat to exercise. She’ll have more space, especially if she lives in an enclosed area. This means she’ll have space to run, jump, and climb. Of course, if your cat is lazy by nature, she’ll just sunbathe.
If you have multiple cats in a small home, an outdoor area is advisable. Any feline that feels under stress has somewhere to escape to. It also encourages more independence in timid cats.
An ideal outside area for cats has much the same requirements as an indoor space. The cat will need places to hide, climb, scratch, relax, go to the toilet, and investigate.
Don’t consider outdoor space to be a deal-breaker when contemplating the adoption of a cat. In most cases, it’s a bonus. Discuss the individual animal when adopting, though. Some cats struggle with indoor life.
What Breeds of Cat are Best for Small Homes?
If you live in a small home, you should look for a cat that will be happiest in such a location. Different cat breeds have varying lifestyles, as well as the simple matter of size.
If you’re seeking a cat indifferent to small spaces, consider the classic British or American Shorthair. These breeds are quiet, independent, non-shedding, and adaptable. They’ll be content in an apartment or small house.
Alternatively, you can find a breed that will thrive in such an environment. If you take in an affectionate lap cat, she’ll want to be where you are. If she’s curled up in your lap, she won’t notice the lack of surface area. Examples of such cats include:
- This breed is not ideal if you’re averse to constant grooming
You’ll still need to meet the cat in question. All pets are unique and have their own personality.
Don’t be fooled by the size of a kitten. Cats grow faster than you think. A pet that looks like an ideal fit today may outgrow your home within six months.
How Can I Tell if My Cat Wants More Space?
Cats are not particularly expressive animals, so you’ll need to learn their body language. Warning signs that a lack of space stresses your cat include:
- Spraying and urinating outside the litter box.
- Always hiding under beds and other furniture.
- Excessive grooming and scratching.
- Destructive behavior, including scratching furniture.
- Bolting for freedom whenever you open a door or window.
Pay attention to any warning signs of a frustrated feline. If a cat escapes her home, she can be tricky to locate. She may also develop a taste for escapology and make a break for freedom.
How to Make a Small Space Cat-Friendly
If you do not have a substantial surface area, improvise to make your cat comfortable. There are steps you can take to improve your pet’s quality of life:
- Keep the space clean. Cats do not enjoy unsanitary conditions.
- Invest in a high-quality air freshener. Cats grow distressed if their own scent surrounds them at all times. You’ll also need a high-quality, aroma-masking litter box.
- Avoid drafts in open areas. If you have an air conditioner, don’t point it directly into your cat’s preferred space.
- Play with your cat twice a day. She’ll enjoy the uninterrupted one-on-one time, and it will help her to burn off energy. This will prevent her from growing frustrated.
- Place a bird feeder outside the closed window or invest in a fish tank. Cats can entertain themselves for hours watching birds and fish.
- Arrange your furniture so that your cat has an obstacle course. This will make up for a lack of surface area. She’ll enjoy hopping from sofa to chair to the cupboard.
- Provide hiding places and climbing opportunities. Cupboards can be good for this. Cats like to get high or clamber into a quiet closest. At least one cat tress is also a must.
- Put boxes around for your cat to squeeze into. This is where she’ll be her happiest.
Whatever the size of your home may be, you need to meet a cat’s basic needs. Feeling safe and secure will always trump the ability to race around. Place a cardboard box in an empty room and that’s where you’ll find a cat.
Some cats thrive in smaller homes. This is especially likely in nervous felines. In their minds, the more open space, the more opportunities predators have to attack them.
Learn about your cat’s preferences and tailor its surroundings accordingly. As long as she has 18 square feet of space, the minimum space requirement is met. Beyond this, it’s about making your cat feel relaxed and comfortable.