Making it Work Living with a Cat in a Small Space


You haven’t quite reached that house in the suburbs yet, and you’re still living in that 1,000-square foot apartment or condo without a lot of additional space to spare. Okay, you have no additional space to spare. You’re cramped and you know that having an animal in the house with you is going to make for an even tighter fit. Like many people, you probably assume that a cat is a great fit for a small space since cats just eat, drink and sleep all day, every day. It’s a common misconception many people have, so you’re not alone. Cats do far more than eat and sleep all day, even if it doesn’t appear to you that they do much else. Depending on the breed you get, you could end up with a very playful cat that loves to run around and frolic at home. Without much space, however, that becomes a little difficult. So if you do have a cat in a small space, it’s up to you to figure out how to make your living situation work for you and your feline friend.

How to Handle the Litter Box

The biggest issue with having a cat in a small space is the lack of litter box space. In a larger home you can put the litter box in a room that’s rarely used for social gatherings, such as a small guest bath, the garage (if you have a kitty door in the garage door) or even the laundry room. There are plenty of options, but what are you to do if you don’t have the space for this need? You’re going to have to get creative here. You’re not going to be able to cheap out of this one; this is going to be an investment. You’re going to want a self-cleaning litter box that automatically scoops up kitty’s mess automatically. If you can’t afford one of those, you’re going to want a litter box with a lid, and you’re going to want to clean it daily. Actually, you’re not going to want to clean it daily, but you’re going to have to. Unless you want to teach your cat how to use the toilet, you’re going to want to clean this box every single day to prevent odors. You can also help by placing an air purifier near the box as well.

Get a Good Vacuum

You might not think that your cat sheds like a dog, but some cats shed a lot. Even cats with short hair shred and you’re going to find that hair everywhere. A small space means that hair has fewer places to go, so it’s just going to look like a lot more. You’ll want to vacuum daily – or at least 3 days a week – to handle the cat hair you will find in your small space.

Create a Spot for the Cat

Cats are good about finding a place in your home that they love and want to make their own. Our cat loves to jump up on the kitchen island, on top of the fridge and on top of the counters above the fridge. Do we love this? No, we don’t. We spend a LOT of time cleaning the counters in our kitchen because nothing we do makes this animal STOP AND STAY OFF and it’s been 3 years since he began doing this. We hate it. His other favorite place is on the edge of the balcony at the top of the stairs. We hate this, too, because we don’t want to be responsible for what will happen if one of our kids runs by and scares him into falling off (on accident, they’re sweet and would never do that on purpose). If you find a place for your cat and make it comfortable, you won’t have to worry about him finding a place of his own somewhere inconvenient in your small space. Cats love warmth, so a heating pad with a blanket or small bed in a corner somewhere private might be just the thing he needs.

Get a Cat Tree

If you don’t have enough space for one of the big ones for sale at pet stores, you can get online and find a DIY video that will teach you how to create your own custom cat tree so that your feline friend has a place to go and a place to call home. Cats like height, and they will adjust to a small space with a lot more ease and comfort if they have something they can climb (and now I’ll be buying one of these for my cat in hopes that this will keep him off the kitchen cabinets!) and perch on. This could be the answer to your small space prayers, and your cat’s, as well.

If you can place this in front of, or near, a window of some sort, do it. Cats adore natural sunlight and a good view, so they’re going to find a way to get up there and stare outside as often as possible. You might as well make it easy on the cat and you by giving him a way to do this without jumping on tables or knocking over your valuables in an attempt to see out the window (hey, who doesn’t love a good view?).

Play with Your Cat

It’s the simplest and most obvious answer when it comes to keeping your cat safe and happy in a small space. When your cat feels loved, he’s more likely to be happy. When you play with the cat, you are happier. It’s a proven medical fact that cat and dog owners are less stressed and happier because spending time with their animals petting them and playing with them is a wonderful way to relieve stress. This is going to benefit the both of you. Living in a small space has its challenges – and its perks – but being happy is necessary for you and your cat to thrive.

Photo by James Glossop – WPA Pool/Getty Images

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