Living in an Apartment With a Cat

Moving into a new place can be a pretty exciting adventure – but your cat(s) might not always agree with that. Any kind of change for a cat can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s not impossible. Living in an apartment with a cat is much different than living in a house, but we’re here to help you make sure apartment living is just as amazing for both you and your cat!

It’s vital for you to be aware of the safety concerns that come with moving into a new apartment, in regards to your cat. Here are a few common concerns to keep in mind when you first step into your new home!

Harmful Items: Cats love to explore and are extremely curious. This sense will probably even be heightened in a new environment. Under your bathroom, in the kitchen, in your entertainment center – there are threats to your cat’s health and safety everywhere.

And whether you want them to or not, cats are explorers by nature and will probably find whatever it is you are trying to hide from them. This is especially true when moving into a new place. They will probably be roaming for a few days trying to acclimate themselves with their new surroundings. Some cats (I’m personally referring to our Bengal here) can even open doors with their paws – only to crack open a door and leave it. Because of this, take special precautions to lock up any breakable, poisonous, or harmful items in sturdy bins with lids that your cat won’t be able to easily get to. Household cleaners and other toxins should always be kept in a locked-up space that only a human can access.

Balconies: if you are moving to an apartment that has a balcony, you should definitely prioritize your cat’s safety starting here. Whether or not you plan to allow your cat to visit outside or not, cats can be sneaky and can get through a crack in your door for that feeling of freedom (being outside). Setting up barriers is a good way to make sure your cat can’t jump or fall through any available openings.

Make sure you are checking down below a railing as well as in between slats in the rails surrounding your balcony also. It’s also highly important that you make certain that your cat does not have accessibility to your patio while you are not home (or when you are not able to keep a constant eye on them).

Living in an apartment with a cat does come with some risks, we encourage you to Read about High Rise Syndrome below!

Windows and Screens: Similar to balconies, you will want to make sure your windows all have proper screens installed and that windows are locked at all times. A cat can squeeze through an opening about the size of their head – so keep that in mind when you are letting your furry friend sunbathe at the window.

Check Your Lease Agreement

When it comes to living in an apartment with a cat there are likely going to be some rules you will need to follow. Unfortunately, cats are not allowed in every apartment (yet…), so a pretty vital first step is to check with your apartment’s leasing agent about cats in your new place. 

Some may require a hefty list of things you need to complete before move in, and some may only require a pet deposit. While the requirements can differ, here are a few that are pretty versatile across the board. But again – make sure you do your research before move in day!

What Your Pet Agreement May Include:

  • Specific breeds that are/ are not allowed 
  • The number, size, and age of cats 
  • Request up to date documentation of vaccination records and current vet records
  • Required pet fees: deposits, monthly increase for your cat, pet insurance, etc. 
  • Damage responsibilities: as the tenant you are required for any damage that your cat may cause while you are living in your apartment. Make sure you are aware of what qualifies as damage and what you will be responsible for paying before moving out
  • Overall responsibilities: you are responsible for your cat (duh) but in the eyes of your landlord, you are responsible for all actions that your cat partakes in

Living in an apartment with a cat

Let’s Talk Odor Management

Particularly in an apartment you have less space, which means that living in an apartment with a cat can come with a potential lack of ventilation to help dissipate those cat smells that we have all grown to love.  One of the best ways to minimize your cat’s smells is starting with their litter boxes. Minimizing liter odors start with picking the right cat litter.

Read Our Guide: Litterbox pros and cons

Once you have settled on a litter that will work for both you and your cat, you will have to regularly empty out that oh so glamorous litter box. Cleaning the litter boxes daily will further help limit those everyday odors. 

Moving on from their litter box, another source of unwanted odors can come from your cat’s food bowls. Wherever you plan to put your cat’s food area, make sure it is an accessible area for not only your cat, but also yourself. Both wet and dry cat food can come with some very specific odors that probably won’t smell as nice as your new Target candle. A great way to make sure you can cut down on that smell is regularly cleaning the food area. 

Added bonus, not only will it diminish odors, but can also keep unwanted critters and bugs from taking their own bite of your cat’s food!

Entertain Your Cat into Comfort in a New Space

One of the easiest and quickest ways to help your cat feel at ease in a new apartment is with constant entertainment. When your cat is focused on playing with you, they will spend less time having anxiety about their new surroundings. Sure, some cats will need a few days to hide under your bed or to find a safe hiding place, but eventually you will see your cat explore and figure out their new home in your home.

Create a home that you would want to be in if you were a cat. Adding cat scratchers, cat trees, and even shelves in your apartment can satisfy even the most curious of cats. Designating specific areas within your apartment can also help your cat feel more at home and can help with the adjustment period. If they have a place they can run to when they are feeling scared, trapped, overwhelmed, etc. it can allow them the freedom to come and go comfortably.

Keep in mind that all cats are created differently, and what one cat can overcome in one day might take another cat two weeks. Let them make their new home their home, in their own time. Don’t drag them out from under the bed when you want to snuggle them, be patient if they are learning where to use the bathroom, and let them figure things out on their own. They are pretty intelligent creatures when given time to be themselves! 

Our Bengal was warmed up to our apartment after about a solid month of exploring and figuring out where everything was. On the other hand is our MaineCoon who was comfortable in our apartment the second he knew where his food would be sitting. 

Let Them Play!

Another great way to create a comfortable environment in a new space is to buy your cat some new toys and things to play with! Even if your cat isn’t necessarily the biggest fan of playing with cat toys, introducing something new that is just for them can help take the pressure off of having to figure out an entirely new apartment. They will be so focused on that new scratch pad that they might not even notice the new living room they are playing in. It’s all about making them comfortable! 

Make Time for Them

One of our favorite tips for welcoming a cat into your new space is scheduling a regular time (or multiple times preferably) to just play and interact with your cat. Get out those new toys, feed them some catnip, or simply sit with them while they explore a new room of the apartment.

When your cat is introduced to a new space, the only thing they are familiar with is you. So including yourself in a new space can help them feel calmer the more and more you do it. You also get some one on one time with your cat – so it’s honestly a win win!

Even though cats are pretty self-sufficient, they need help from you to ensure they are kept safe in their new home. Don’t forget to make sure your apartment is big enough for a cat!

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