Space requirements for cats aren’t what they might seem. It’s natural to assume that your cat would want as much room as possible. But cats are less concerned about space and more interested in the layout of your home.
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 amount of room.
An appropriate layout is more crucial than the size of the property. Cats like to climb and hide. If your cat doesn’t have places that it can retreat to, it’ll become stressed. Equally, a wide-open space will be intimidating to a cat.
How Many Square Feet of Space Does a Cat Need?
Much depends on the size of your cat. Some breeds are much larger than others. Certain breeds are also more energetic and playful. This means that your cat would need more room to run and jump.
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.
The most important thing for a cat is zoning. Even the biggest home can make a cat feel uncomfortable if it’s open plan. Cats like to hide and have spaces to call their own. Remember that cats are highly territorial.
Do Cats Like Open Living Environments?
When humans look for 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, it’ll be uncomfortable. Felines like to stay hidden and not wander through open spaces as this makes them feel exposed.
According to Romper, cats prefer 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 that 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 and 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. Just fill a large room with some hiding places and higher ground.
Can a Cat Live in a Small Apartment?
Cats are happy to live in apartments. Cats tend to reserve their energy for short, controlled bursts. This is an instinctive behavior as cats live to hunt. By not wasting energy, they’ll have enough in reserve to stalk prey.
Also, cats find safety and contentment in more enclosed spaces. An apartment will provide plenty of places to hide, such as cupboards and closets. This will keep most felines happy and contented.
If you have an apartment, you should ensure that communal areas measure at least 18 square feet. Most felines will be comfortable.
However, if a cat previously roamed outdoors, being cooped up inside may lead to destructive behavior, such as marking and clawing furniture.
If your cat has nowhere to escape and recharge its batteries, it’ll grow stressed and anxious. Provide these spaces, ideally in separate rooms.
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
- This tells you how many cats can comfortably share a room
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 5.6. Of course, it depends on the layout of your home and the temperament of your cats.
Do I Need Spare Rooms for a Cat?
You don’t need a spare room, but it would definitely be beneficial to have this space for your cat. There are many reasons why:
- The cat can claim the room as its own. This will help manage its 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 and drink bowl.
- The cat will have somewhere to escape when it’s overwhelmed.
- The room can be turned into a cat gym, filled with toys and exercise equipment to keep it entertained.
Having a spare room is useful if you have a cat. Need is arguably too strong a word, but there are more pros than cons.
Do I Need Outside Space for a Cat?
If your cat is used to living indoors, it’ll likely 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, though.
Outside space also gives a cat the chance to exercise. It’ll have more space, especially if it lives in an enclosed area. This means it’ll have space to run, jump, and climb. Of course, if your cat is a bit lazy, it’ll just sunbathe.
If you have multiple cats in a small home or apartment, an outdoor area is advisable. Any feline that feels under stress needs somewhere to escape. It also encourages more independence in timid cats.
What Are the Best Cats for Small Homes?
You can find a breed that will thrive in limited space. If you take in an affectionate lap cat, it’ll want to be where you are. If it’s curled up in your lap, it won’t notice the lack of surface area. Examples include:
If you’re seeking a cat indifferent to small spaces, consider the following:
- British Shorthair
- American Shorthair
These breeds are quiet, independent, non-shedding, and adaptable. They’ll be content in an apartment or small house.
How Can I Tell if My Cat Needs 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
How to Make a Small Space Cat-Friendly
If you don’t have a large home, improvise to make your cat comfortable. These steps will improve your cat’s quality of life:
- Keep the space clean. Cats do not enjoy unsanitary conditions.
- Avoid drafts in open areas. If you have an air conditioner or fan, don’t point it directly into your cat’s preferred space.
- Play with your cat twice a day. It’ll enjoy the uninterrupted one-on-one time, and it will help it burn off energy.
- Nearby prey. Place a bird feeder outside the closed window or get a fish tank. Cats can entertain themselves for hours.
- Home setup. Arrange your furniture so that your cat has an obstacle course. This will make up for a lack of surface area. It’ll enjoy hopping from sofa to chair to the cupboard.
- Hiding places. Cupboards can be good places for a cat to hide. Put boxes around for your cat to squeeze into.
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 for nervous felines. In their minds, the more open space, the more opportunities predators have to attack them.
Learn your cat’s preferences and tailor its surroundings accordingly. As long as a cat has 18 square feet of space, the minimum space requirement is met. It’s about making your cat feel relaxed and comfortable.