2 kitties + 1 human = square footage?
August 22, 2008 5:40 PM   Subscribe

How small an apartment is too small for one person and two 1 year old kitties (they are litter mates and generally get along well)? Failing that, what should I look for in a kitty-friendly small apartment?

For various reasons, I have to move; thankfully not immediately, but I'd prefer to move sooner rather than later.

I'd much prefer to live alone with my two cats; I don't make a lot of money. Living alone means a significant limit on the size of my future apartment. Personally I don't need much space, and I'm fastidious about keeping the litterbox clean, so it's not me I'm concerned about.

Is there any rule of thumb as to how much square-footage my cats would need? What else (besides # of sittable windows), should I consider when looking for my new pad?
posted by Knicke to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
from what i've seen here in new york, people and their animals can thrive in the tiniest of spaces—and by tiny i mean the three bedroom i live in is only slightly larger than a friend's studio in austin—so square footage doesn't seem to be an issue with small pets unless you have super active ones that need to run around a lot or like to bark. kitties should probably be pretty happy as long as you have at least one window that gets enough sun for them in the afternoon.
posted by lia at 6:00 PM on August 22, 2008

I also have two cats (neutered males). They are 3 and 4 years old. We have been living together for three years in a studio apartment. My apt has a main room, full kitchen, long hallway and bathroom. Probably not more than 400 sq ft.
I haven't heard any complaints from the cats. They have room to chase each other around a couple times a day and each one has their own window that they like to look out of. I keep the litter box in the bathroom and food and water in the kitchen.
The only problem with it being a studio is the nocturnal activities. When they want to run around at 3am, I have no bedroom door to close :(
Other than that, we all get along fine.
Kitties don't need too much space, just love.
posted by Joannalaine at 6:04 PM on August 22, 2008

Best answer: Dunno if it's an option I think that longer is better (e.g. railroad apartment). My cats love running the length of my apartment, and I don't care if my bedroom is narrow.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:10 PM on August 22, 2008

I live in 380sqft with two cats. Granted they are quite old, but so far we've had no problems. If my cats were younger and more active I would have built some climbing furniture that takes advantage of my high ceilings. As it is, they like to lounge on the window sill, and have their own private clubhouse under my bed.
posted by kimdog at 6:29 PM on August 22, 2008

Oh yeah, seconding unknown command. My apartment is about 9" x 40", which gives them a good length to run (on the occasions that they do).
posted by kimdog at 6:32 PM on August 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I live in 500s/f with two fat cats (also littermates) and a 60lb dog, and we're doing great!
posted by mewithoutyou at 7:17 PM on August 22, 2008

Following on kimdog's comments, cats don't just live in square footage; they live in three dimensional space. If they have furniture and shelves that they can climb or jump on, the space available to them will be much more than you anticipate.

One place where I lived had a wall of bookshelves. There, my cat liked to leap to the upper shelves, walk around, cuddle up around a vase, peer down at me, etc. In my current space, she frequently jumps on top of the refrigerator or even higher, above the kitchen cabinets. All this at 10+ years old...
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:32 PM on August 22, 2008

Look for a cool landlord. I live in a shoebox studio and my landlord is pretty chill. I'm only supposed to have one cat but he let me rescue another one and I don't pay pet deposits. (Maybe because I have hardwood floors and no carpeting?)
posted by ShadePlant at 7:40 PM on August 22, 2008

I lived for about 3 years in a one-room guest cottage, about 300sf, with 2 indoor kitties. We were all very happy there - no problems at all.
posted by chez shoes at 7:42 PM on August 22, 2008

Best answer: I lived with two cats and another person in a 20x10 foot floating box (200 sqft) for over a year. Due to a garden window { those windows that stick and are usually double decker (two cat accommodating) shelves } and a tall cat tree it seemed like a perfect living situation at the time. I enjoyed the small space and felt like everything that mattered to me was an arm's stretch away including my cats.

However, I am responding because you asked how small is too small and I didn't see anyone mention a problem I've attributed to living space size (completely unscientifically) so maybe it's only my cats but here goes:

Although my cats and I are very close and all is well for now they gained a great deal of weight during that time. Extra weight on cats isn't a good idea for many reasons and I've been trying to get the boys down to a reasonable cat size ever since. I regret not taking steps to do something to counteract this during their confinement (One loves laser pointer and I did that lots but not enough. One walks on a harness but not far and not frequently enough so it had no effect.) I absolutely believe that being in a small place for so long could end up have a lasting effect on my cats if I don't manage their weight (I have no proof of this. Its just what I think.)

I was going to say that 200sqft might actually be too small based on my experience. Now that I've typed all this though I think the advice I'd rather pass along is to just keep an eye on your cat's weight wherever you go in case you experience something similar and can act sooner to increase activity because that's the only negative thing I could think of with regard to living in a small space with my cats. The rest was delightful and comfortable space-wise.
posted by mztreskiki at 7:49 PM on August 22, 2008

A lot of it depends on your kitties. How active are they? Wrestling each other doesn't need that much room and is pretty good exercise. And IMO, it's kinda less the amount of room and more what's in it. A windowless room the size of a football field is going to be boring as shit! Ugh!

Stairs are awesome for kitty exercise. I had no idea 'til we moved here and Loopy had to do stairmasters (ha-ha) to get to his dinner, look out the window or sleep in the sun. And then there's times when he runs up and down them (6X +) because he thinks following me around has anything to do with getting his dinner. (By the 6th run he pauses to look at me like "C'mon! I'm getting sick of this shit." He will usually just wait up there for me now.)

But the damage has already been done :) It has trimmed him down beautifully!! When we leave here, if there's no stairs - he's getting ladders! Bamboo or wooden? (Maybe some kind of obstacle course to his dinner??) They look interesting and he can be all smug and lofty up there. Everybody wins.

Mine are littermates and it is CRUCIAL (I cannot stress that enough...) - for there to always be two identical/equal 'good spots' or that there be enough room in the one 'good spot' for both of them to fit comfortably... Without being able to brace on the side and then try to shove the other. And squabble and carry on. Yes I'm serious. Yep, just like little kids. Hopefully you won't have to lay some smack down, but better to keep an eye out and nip their petty shit in the bud or the squabbling will drive you insane. (Because of a damn basket! ...Jeebus!!)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 2:23 AM on August 23, 2008

I live in 300 square feet with my two cats and all is fine (they're not getting fat, either). They are very active and love to wrestle and run (one is only a year old and is a bit crazy like that), and they climb and jump all over the place. We have a good view too, which I think is important - they sit and watch people on the street, and can see plenty of birds, too.

The main issue you'll notice is that cat hair gets everywhere, all the time, and so does the litter (it gets tracked everywhere), but in my experience it's possible to have perfectly healthy, happy cats in a small space. The main thing is to make sure that they don't get bored (this can also lead to overeating, just like it can in people) - keep adding and removing toys, cardboard boxes, paper bags and other stuff that cats go crazy for, and all should be just fine.
posted by different at 4:26 AM on August 23, 2008

When my cats were very active kittens we lived in a one-room efficiency apartment. They'll be fin. Get them a lot of toys.
posted by miss tea at 5:20 AM on August 23, 2008

I think I read a book by the Humane Society that recommends 1 bedroom per cat, + 1 extra bedroom (so for two cats, three bedrooms), but I honestly think that's a bit excessive for people who live downtown in really crowded, expensive cities. Half the cat population in my city would be homeless if everyone had to abide by those recommendations.

Having a (safe) balcony or other (enclosed) outdoor space is a really great idea. I live with three cats in a tiny loft studio, but the balcony makes all the difference in the world to them. Windows that let in a good amount of air and light are at least a reasonable substitute. And the loft is actually a nice feature because they get a huuuge kick out of climbing the ladder, and it gives them some exercise that they might not otherwise get (they seem pretty much immune to cat-towers and scratching posts and whatnot.)

Re: cat weight, one of mine is a huge fatty, one is medium, and the other's always been a bit skinny. Not sure that apartment *size* changed anything for them, but definitely keep track of any change in their weight, up or down. My skinny guy lost weight when we were in a dark, not well-ventilated apartment with no outdoor space -- I think because he was depressed. In the newer, but smaller place, he put his weight back on and seems much more active and happy.

Good luck to you and yours.
posted by peggynature at 7:26 AM on August 23, 2008

If they haven't been declawed and your apartment will let you, mount a sisal covered 8' 2x4 vertically on a wall. They will love climbing all over it (especially if you rub catnip into it). Climbing vertically will help give their muscles exercise if they can't run. It will also give them a place to scratch so they don' t ruin your bed, couch, etc.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 7:57 PM on August 23, 2008

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