How Much Room Do Cats Need

How Much Room Do Cats Need

Compared to other animals out there, house cats are pretty small. If you don’t know much about owning a cat then you’d assume a small animal doesn’t need that much space, right? Well, no. Cats are VERY active and, depending on their breed, cats need plenty of room (but not too much!)

Not having the proper amount of room for your cat can cause both physical and mental health issues. There are also a number of sites pushing bad and hurtful information out there about how much room cats need, and we want to dispel those myths! 

While searching for the answer to this question, I’m sure you came across a lot of larger sites like Hepper, and SeniorCatWellness. All of whom keep regurgitating the same terrible information that cats need 18sq ft of space. (Shout out to PetKeen who specifically mentions that this is the bare minimum and is a guideline mostly for shelters and NOT the requirement for a cat’s forever home)


Imagine a square on the ground where each side is about 4.24ft. Now look at the size of that square. That square is 18 square feet total. Can you see how this would be a problem for cats? 

Okay, so where did the other sites go wrong? Why are they spouting out this terrible information? Well, they all got their information from the same sources that consist of ASPCA guidelines as well as laws in the US. But, those are legitimate sources, why are these big sites wrong?

Well, those guidelines are made specifically for shelters, pounds, and rescue organizations. Places like that who house multiple cats must allot 18sq ft per cat. This tiny space is only temporary until the cat gets adopted. These other websites are publishing this information as if it’s okay to keep your cat in a tiny 18sq ft closet or something. That is detrimental to your cat’s health!

I have written all of these websites and as of the publication date of this article, NONE of them have returned my emails. I encourage all of you reading this to reach out to them so that they will hopefully correct their mistakes. 

So How Much Room Do Cats Actually Need?

The amount of room your cat needs depends on their age, their breed, and their activity levels. If you’re planning on keeping a cat in a closet because some random website says that 18sq ft is fine, then you probably shouldn’t own a cat.

If you live in a 300sq ft studio apartment and rarely get visitors, then your cat will likely be just fine! (Cats can be shy so having somewhere to run and hide when visitors come over is VERY important)

You need to consider everything that a cat needs to be happy and healthy, and use your best judgement to see whether or not your home would make a good fit for a cat. 

how much room do cats need

What Do Cats Need Space For

The best way to calculate how much room cats need is by understanding how cats utilize the space given to them. Here’s a list of things to consider when trying to gauge whether or not your home is ready for a cat. 

Cats Need Room To Eat

Cats can be very peculiar when it comes to eating. They don’t like to eat around other people, so having their food bowl in a high-traffic area isn’t good. A cat’s food bowl also needs to be far away from their litterbox. Your cat’s water bowl and food bowl should be in different areas as well, NEVER keep their food and water bowls next to each other. 

Now, we’re not saying that you need to build a pillow fort to hide your cat’s food bowl in. Simply putting it under a table or even up against a wall is typically good enough. Just be sure to pick a spot that will also be easy for you to clean, cats can be messy eaters!

Cats Need Room To Play

Cats need room to play. It is VERY important for cats to get both mental and physical stimulation from playtime. Obviously a 6 month old kitten will need more playtime than a 14 year old senior kitty. Breed is also a factor here. A Bengal cat, for example, is going to need A LOT of play time compared to other breeds.

If you’re limited on space then you still need to have a designated play area for your cat. Even if this isn’t specifically the area they will play in, you will still need space to store their toys and scratching posts. 

Yes, your cat needs a scratching post. Cats instincts make them scratch, it’s just what cats do. Giving your cat a scratching post will prevent them from tearing up your furniture. 


Cats Need Litterbox Privacy

Cats will feel their most vulnerable when using the litterbox. Sure, you know your cat is safe, but your cat’s brain says otherwise. Having room for a litterbox that can be tucked away from normal foot traffic is imperative. 

The bathroom is a great place to keep your cat’s litterbox. It makes cleanup easy and your cat will enjoy the privacy. Regardless of where you keep their litterbox, just ensure that it is kept nowhere near their food or water bowls. 

As a general rule of thumb you should always follows the “# Of Cats + 1” rule  as far as how many litterboxes you need. If you have 2 cats then ideally you should have 3 litterboxes. You can get away with 1 litterbox for 2 cats as long as you clean the litterbox twice a day. 

Cats Need Hiding Spots To Sleep

Most cats will spend some of their time sleeping on your bed or on the couch. But during the day whenever their owners are gone, they often like to hide in small, secluded spaces to curl up and nap.

So when deciding how much room your cat will need, consider the hiding places they can find throughout your home. In addition to sleeping, cats will also often retreat to these hiding places whenever unfamiliar guests come over. 

Does your cat have enough room?

Are Cats Happy In Apartments

Cats are VERY happy in apartments! In fact, apartments are, in some ways, better than a big house. Cats obviously need room to run and play, room to eat, room to hide, etc.. but there is a thing as too much room for cats. Having too much space can be overwhelming for them!

As long as your cat has designated spaces for the things we’ve listed above, your cat will most certainly be very happy in an apartment with you. 

Does My Cat Need Their Own Room

Giving your cat their own room isn’t necessary for them to be happy and feel safe. However, if you have the extra space, your cat would most likely love having a room to call their own! 

Cats are very territorial and having a room all to themselves where they can feel safe and be around familiar scents and smells would be wonderful. 

Having their own room would also tackle the problem of cats needing somewhere to immediately retreat to whenever they feel anxious or overwhelmed. 

Will My Cat Need To Go Outside

Your cat will more than likely be perfectly content as an indoor-only cat., as well as just about any rescue organization out there, believe that all cats should be kept indoors. There are too many risks when letting cats outside, from cars to predators to heat

Having said that, same rescue organizations to have “working” cats. Working cats can be anything from barn cats to bodega cats. If you rescue a cat who has lived outside their whole lives, then they may not ever be happy indoors. This is a rare exception and the organization will let you know up front if the cat you’re looking at is a barn or bodega cat. 

Is My Cat Happy With The Space I've Given Them

Your cat can’t exactly run up to you and thank you for the room you’ve given them. To ensure your cat is happy you need to be on the lookout for certain warning signs. These are telltale signs that your cat is NOT happy:

  • They are ALWAYS hiding
  • When you open the door they try to run outside immediately
  • Exhibiting very destructive behavior
  • Urinating outside of their litterbox
  • Anxiously and excessively grooming themselves. 

Cats Are Small, But They Still Need Room To Be Cats!

Cats need room to play, explore and hide. They also need safe places to sleep and eat in peace. And, again, other factors come into play, such as the age and breed of the cat. 

If you have safe spaces for your cat to eat, sleep, hide, and somewhere for their litterbox then you’re probably going to be just fine! But remember, ignore those other websites who say 18sq ft is enough, that is a TINY amount of space and once again we want to encourage you to reach out to these websites who are pushing this terrible, harmful myth! 

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