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Old 05-19-2009, 10:02 AM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Location: Howdy
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Minimimum living space for a cat?

I have a friend with a 25m2 (270ft2) apartment, who would like a cat but doesn't think the cat would be happy in such a space and unable to go outside.

Is there a minimum space for an indoor cat?
Old 05-19-2009, 10:19 AM
sandra_nz sandra_nz is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Cheshire, UK (since 2006)
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We have our cat in a reasonably small flat, although nowhere near as small as that.

I'm not aware of any guidelines about minimum space, so can't comment on that, but what I would say is that where size is limited, the owner spending time with the cat, stimulating it by playing games with the cat and the cat having scratching posts, places to hide, places to sit up high, etc becomes more important. We are fortunate in that we have an open set of stairs so it's like a pre-made jungle gym for her.

Obligatory photos:

Checking out the stairs on her first day home

Looking down upon her subjects

Beating the hell out of her scratching post

Last edited by sandra_nz; 05-19-2009 at 10:20 AM. Reason: I forgot the obligatory photo links. Many apologies, it won't happen again.
Old 05-19-2009, 11:22 AM
Surok Surok is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Moscow, RF
Posts: 618
My old apartment was 33m2, and my cat seemed pretty happy. However, he grew up in an apartment and had never been outside (apart from travelling from one apartment to another). He scorned the cat tree I procured for him, but loved to climb on the kitchen cabinets.

Since moving about a year ago, he's had the run of a small house, garden, and the local neighbourhood. Now he's discovered the joys of hunting and fishing (a neighbour recently lost 4 goldfish, and I think I know who the culprit is) I don't think he'd want to go back to being an apartment cat.

ETA: Tell your friend to get a small cat.

Last edited by Surok; 05-19-2009 at 11:23 AM.
Old 05-19-2009, 11:38 AM
Swallowed My Cellphone Swallowed My Cellphone is offline
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Location: 5th Dimension
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I saw a documentary about cats and apparently, they adjust to the size of their territory. A cat who has a huge farm as its territory will make the rounds and wander the whole thing. A cat in a one bedroom apartment will do the same. My old cat Lenny made the transition from an entire house to a small one-bedroom apartment with no problem at all.
Old 05-19-2009, 11:42 AM
Omniscient Omniscient is offline
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Location: Chicago, IL, USA
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I live in a 720 sq ft city apartment and I'd be hesitant to get a cat in this space. The space you are talking about is a third that size, barely the size of a typical bedroom. I can't imagine owning a pet an confining it to just one room for an extended period of time. I can't say whether it's humane or safe for that cat specifically, but I'd feel incredibly guilty owning one in that situation.

There is a difference between "can have a cat" and "should have a cat".
Old 05-19-2009, 12:17 PM
exastris exastris is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: ObamAZ
Posts: 277
How about adopting an older cat- one that doesn't need to or can't run around so much anymore? The local vet may have a cat they're looking to adopt out, and often those older cats get passed over. (I'm thinking of my first cat in his last few years- he had arthritis and was happy if he had a comfortable spot to look out the window- didn't need or use tons of room to run around.) If your friend goes that route, he/she should be very open with the vet about how much space is available for the cat.
Old 05-19-2009, 01:37 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
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Location: Santa Barbara, CA
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My cat seems at her most content inside a fairly small box. So I'd say that the minimum living space for a cat is approximately equal to the volume of that cat. The real trick will be to get the food dish and litter box in there with her.
Old 05-19-2009, 01:44 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Location: South Carolina
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I think my cats would be perfectly happy confined to a bedroom. As it is they're not really allowed outside of the living room, dining room, and kitchen - it's just their world. They're cool with it. They always sleep in the same places anyway.
Old 05-19-2009, 01:46 PM
Drunky Smurf Drunky Smurf is offline
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Location: Smurf Village.
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I agree about an older cat for a smaller space. My 11 year old cat wants nothing to do but lay around on the small bookshelf looking out the window and sleeping. My younger 3 year old only wants to run around, jump up and down on things and try to play with the older cat but the older cat just wants to be left alone and hisses at the younger cat when he tries to play with her.

So I spend a lot of time playing with the young cat to keep him occupied and the older cat I just pet her a lot when I pass near her.
Old 05-19-2009, 08:23 PM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
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I had a cat in a 500 sq. ft. efficiency. She was absolutely fine with it. Later in her life, she lived confined to a bedroom + closet that was slightly smaller, and was fine with that too, as long as she got regular human companionship.

If your friend can adopt an older cat that has spent its life indoors, I believe the cat will be fine. Sadly, shelter cats live in much smaller spaces. In the case of older cats, they may live in cages for years. Your friend's apartment could be a considerable upgrade for an older cat whose elderly owner had to give it up to a shelter.

I will say that living with a litterbox in that confined of a space was not pleasant. Your friend should think seriously about whether that is something tolerable.
Old 05-20-2009, 12:26 PM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is offline
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: usa
Posts: 4,810
Yes, if it were me, I'd look for an elderly obese cat who probably would just be thankful to have a place to relax.
The litterbox issue is the only real barrier. That can be mitigated though with using the right kind of litter, changing it often, and feeding the cat one of the foods they make that reduces litterbox odor (yes, some brands of cat food do help with the odor).
Old 05-20-2009, 01:28 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Toronto
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
I have a friend with a 25m2 (270ft2) apartment, who would like a cat but doesn't think the cat would be happy in such a space and unable to go outside.

Is there a minimum space for an indoor cat?

In a space that size, I imagine the owner would have some issues with basically living inside the cat's litter box.
Old 05-20-2009, 01:59 PM
whiterabbit whiterabbit is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: In the mountains
Posts: 7,939
I live in a tiny cabin that I would guess is somewhere between 450 and 500 square feet -- it feels bigger because there's a loft, so the roof goes up high. The kitchen, as well as the bathroom, is a separate room of its own, which also helps there.

I brough home an 8-year-old Siamese back in November and she is doing fine. She's pretty calm, as far as running around goes, and always lived indoors anyway. I would not bring a kitten in here. This place is too little for the kitten crazies. But the two of us are just fine here. Neither of us are terribly active, really, so we get along well that way.

Yes, she occasionally drops a really stinky one, but as long as I keep up with cleaning the box it isn't bad. You have to be pretty diligent about it, though.
Old 05-20-2009, 03:52 PM
stretch stretch is offline
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Location: Central WA
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My 13 year old cat, Sybil, is now confined to my bedroom and closet. She doesn’t seem to mind; she can climb on the furniture, sleep with me, and the dogs don’t have access to her unless I am there to supervise. She sits on the window sill and watches the world go by.

Following the suggestion of some wonderful Doper, I have her litter box inside a much larger lidded plastic box with a hole in the end for her to get in and out. I then keep this larger box inside a closet. In the remaining closet space, I have her food and water. On the closet shelf, I store her cat stuff—bag of food, toys, catnip, etc.

Using the box in a box method reduces the odor and really reduces litter tracking (my cat will only use clay litter). I scoop the little box every day, change the litter as needed, and can take both boxes out and to clean when necessary. Since the bigger box is plastic with no seams, it’s really easy to clean. I use a bussing tub from my local restaurant supply store for the main litter box which holds up really well to abuse and was cheaper than the litter boxes at the pet stores.

All in all, I’d say that having an older, mellow cat in a small space works out just fine. I have had up to 9 cats living with me (and my 2 kids) in a 600 square foot house and that does not work, in case your friend is thinking about going multiple!

Last edited by stretch; 05-20-2009 at 03:54 PM. Reason: superfluous "the"
Old 05-20-2009, 04:05 PM
LunarPlexus LunarPlexus is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Chicago
Posts: 327
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
My cat seems at her most content inside a fairly small box.
Have you looked in on her lately?


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