6 Real Ideas for Living With Cats in an Apartment

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Living in small spaces such as an apartment means that we have to be a little creative. Especially with cats around. This means that we need an environment that is good for our cats and also good for us. In brief summary, what are some of the best ideas for living with cats in an apartment or small space?

  1. Use racks to stack cat items, beds, and toys and keep them all organized in one space.
  2. Don’t use traditional cat towers, they take up too much space. Opt for the cat poles to promote play and maximize floor space.
  3. Keep cats off of the ground by using suction cup perches and hammocks!
  4. Use cat products and toys that are able to fold and collapse so it’s easy to be put away.
  5. Sand litter is not optimal in a small space due to litter tracking all over the apartment. Stick to pine litter.
  6. Manage cat hair by preventing it from even getting on the ground.
  7. BONUS: Using light and highly portable furniture allows our apartment to be flexible and fit both human and cat needs.
Apartments are of course smaller than houses, so it requires a little bit more planning to keep both butlers and cats happy.

Here are some of the detailed strategies and ideas that I use in my studio apartment that make a big difference in terms of my living space while still providing my cats with the proper stimulation that they need.

6+ Really Practical Ideas For Cats Your Apartment & Small Spaces

These days, many people are living in smaller living spaces. While not ideal when living with pets, cats are a little different. Cats care more about vertical territory than they do any horizontal living space.

Why? Simply put, they want to feel safe. In the wild, they are both the hunters and the hunted. It is of utmost importance for them to be confident in their surroundings by getting to a high vantage point.

Requirements For Apartments & Small Living Spaces

In smaller spaces, there are a few requirements that have to be filled for any new additions or ideas:

  1. Takes up minimal horizontal space. Whether if it’s the floor or the kitchen area, we all know that in an apartment there’s not much of it, this is the biggest requirement to fill.
  2. If possible, be multifunctional. It should have a function for us and our cats.
  3. If it’s a toy or some sort of cat furniture, it should be able to be put away neatly without taking up much space.
  4. Make use of unused spaces. Windows, ledges, and even closet/cupboard doors can be used for our cats!
  5. Minimal clutter and mess. The products or things that the cats use should be able to be cleaned up quickly and efficiently. This includes cat litter.

1. Cats Love Racks: Use Racks For Storage & Cat Fun Play Spaces!

Try as we might, to be as minimalist as possible, we always end up with just too many things around our place. Microwaves, toasters, lights, and toys, in the end, all get in the way in a studio apartment. Even small things such as food bowls for your cats can make a place seem a bit too congested.

Enter the rack. Yes, just an ordinary rack. So simple and yet so infinitely useful. Being a pet owner in general means that you are going to just have more things than the ordinary person. Being able to organize and stack things in one place is just so efficient.

For example, in my apartment, I have the cat feeder and water fountain at the bottom of the rack. The next shelf might contain other pet products and food. The shelf on top of that one holds appliances and so on. You get the idea.

Using racks is just one part of catification. Here is the full list of the ways that I catify in my apartment that don’t require any drilling or difficult work!

The ability to keep all of this in one place rather than randomly on the floor or the kitchen area prevents accidents from happening. Too many times have I woken up from my sleep because a cat knocked something off of the kitchen counter. No longer!

  1. 3-Tier Office Rack

    A sturdy rack is what everybody needs in a small apartment. Cat things, computer equipment, this rack can probably handle anything.

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  2. Seville Classics 5-Tier Steel Wire Shelving/Rack

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Rack Tip For Cat Owners!

Put your cat beds on the rack! If you have multiple cat beds, put them on different shelves on the rack. This creates different vertical territories for your cats, instead of having all of the beds on the floor congesting the floor.

This is especially useful in a multi-cat apartment or home. Each cat can have their own private area while still being very efficient with space.

A rack can also be a source of fun and enjoyment for the cats as well. Depending on the rack, one might be able to tie something to it for the cats to bat with their paws or even climb!

2. Use Space Efficient Cat Furniture: Cat Poles Are Better Than Cat Towers

Let’s face it, normal cat towers take up too much space. Good cat towers will have a wide base to stabilize them but in a small living area, it’s not ideal. Instead of the regular cat towers, get a cat climbing pole. They are vertical climbing towers that are attached to the ceiling and the floor with steps in between for the cats to perch and sit.

Compared to regular cat towers, the cat poles are quite a bit taller than the towers as it goes right up to the ceiling. It promotes a lot of climbing and playing and keeps the cats active.

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Frisco 3 Level Floor to Ceiling Heavy Duty Cat Tower Frisco 3 Level Floor to Ceiling Heavy Duty Cat Tower

Give your feline fun from top to bottom with the Frisco 3 Level Floor to Ceiling Heavy Duty Cat Tower. That's three tiers of furry fun for climbing, stretching, and relaxing. The sisal wrapped post encourage healthy scratching so you don't have to worry about claws on the furniture. Plus the bolster bed perch is the perfect place for your kitty to rest their head during those cat naps. This tower is secured to the ceiling with a tension rod, so you can feel good knowing your cat can play all day on this sturdy, durable structure.

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In my experience, all the cat towers that I have owned become sleeping areas. No matter how many toys and doodads are attached to it, the cats eventually become bored and ignore it. I’d rather have a pole to climb as climbing is something that cats do all the time.

Depending on how you layout your cat furniture, it might not even be necessary to have a big, bulky cat tower!

In the wild, cats constantly climb whatever they come across. I want to provide something similar indoors in my apartment. A cat pole gives the cat access to a lot of different areas that you might not think about such as the top of shelves or ledges.

For us butlers, unfortunately, we can’t do any climbing on the cat pole ourselves but it takes up much less horizontal space than a regular cat tower would. It’s also quite handy as a temporary shelf when you need to quickly put a cup of water there (don’t leave things there for long as it will probably get knocked off when the cats play).

3. Catification: Keep The Cats Off Of The Ground!

The less time a cat is on the ground the better. In a smaller living space, it might be very easy to step on a couple of cat tails, or worse!

I have also almost tripped over my cats too many times to count. It really becomes a hazard if your cats are always on the floor. I’ve heard too many stories of people getting injured because of this same reason.

For the safety of you and your cats, especially in one-room apartments, have elevated areas of play and sleep so that they can have their own space so no one gets injured.

Take note of the windows and walls in your room and designate an area of the wall to be the cat area and put the cat furniture there such as the cat pole, cat scratcher or cat hammocks. Preferably away from your work area.

If there’s one thing that I would like to emphasize, use as much of the window space as possible. If putting up shelves and drilling is not for you or your place doesn’t allow for it, window suction hammocks and beds are such a great alternative. This is especially great if you have a large window plan out where you can put the cat window furniture.

Notice how the cats are able to use the cat pole to access other parts of the room! This is a great and cheap way to catify your space without spending a lot of money!

The suction cups also stick onto any glossy surfaces. So even if there isn’t a window, you can still make use of it. When I was in my previous apartment, I put it on my glossy closet and it worked amazingly! Again, work with the space that is not used in the apartment as much as possible.

In my room, I have the cat wheel, cat scratcher, and cat pole on one wall and the window furniture on the other wall. If you observe carefully, there’s a progression and a path to get to the highest point in the room. It’s honestly a lot of fun to plan out their path and you’d be surprised how well they’ll use it.

My next plan is to put suction cup ledges on the cupboards. It will sit above my computer so that the cats can have another place in which they can get away if they need some privacy as it’s probably one of the highest points in the room. It’s also a place that they don’t usually have access to (near the kitchen area) so that they are able to observe whenever we’re cooking!

4. Space Efficient Toys & Activities: Fold and Collapse!

It’s a well-known fact that cats are also affected by boredom, so of course, every cat owner will have toys. Luckily most cat toys can be put away and stored away quite easily because they’re usually quite small. There are, however, a slew of stationary toys (plastic tracks with balls, boxes) and cardboard scratchers that either never get used or occasionally get used by our cats.

These types of cat items are more difficult to store and they really clutter up an apartment. So I try to avoid putting too many of these out. Usually, only one (maximum) to not take up too much floor space.

Another type of toy that I really like is collapsible/foldable tunnels. Cats love to burrow and hide in small spaces. It really stimulates their hunting drive and in a multi-cat home, cats love hiding and playing with each other in the tunnel. Then when you’re finished, fold it up back up and store it away neatly.

For a list of the toys I have curated myself, check out this page!

For me, when I leave the house or go to work, I take out the tunnel for them to play with while I’m away. When I get home, it’s just a matter of folding it back and putting it away so that I have the space to relax and the cats return to their spots on the walls/window.

5. Minimize Litter Tracking: Use Better Litter Alternatives!

There are times I clean the house and about an hour afterward, it would look like I haven’t cleaned it at all. If you are still using clay-based clumping litter, you might know what I’m talking about. You’ve just vacuumed or swept and somehow there’s still sand everywhere.

There’s nothing worse than walking around and accidentally stepping on some sand brought around by your cats. Not only is my apartment small, but my cats are spreading around sand everywhere? That’s something I definitely couldn’t live with.

The first step is to use other cat litter alternatives! I currently use pine litter pellets and it’s saving my life. Larger litter particles mean that their little paws can’t pick it up. The reason why sand litter spreads so easily is that the particles of sand are so fine that it sticks to our cat’s paws. As they walk around, it drops off slowly around the home.

Pine litter does not only does it solve the litter tracking problem, but it’s also super easy to clean and manage. It’s efficient and you never have to dump everything out. Read more pine litter here!

Other litter tracking prevention tools include litter mats, robotic vacuums, and actual litter boxes with litter trapping features. All of them help in some way but transitioning to larger pellets will make the most difference!

6. Cat Hair: Prevention Is the Best Method For Managing Shedding

Cat hair can also be a bit of an issue as well. All cats shed and the more cats you have, the more hair that might be rolling around in your home. You can imagine how much hair is in my studio apartment with 4 cats running around.

The best way to handle it is through prevention. To remove it before it gets a chance to get on anything else! The simple act of grooming and brushing regularly your cats gets the majority of the loose hairs that might fall to the ground or stick to your clothes.

The other half of it is to have furniture and materials around your apartment that don’t attract easily attract hair. Smooth surfaces make it easy to wipe clean, for example, leather or velvet. Surfaces with a lot of strands or fibers cause static which makes the cat hair stick to it like a magnet.

  1. ChomChom Roller Cat Hair Remover

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  2. Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush

    Some brushes can be a bit too rough for our cats and could overstimulate them causing discomfort. This one is super gentle and is super effective at removing loose furs, mats, and tangles.

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I have also found the use of an air purifier helps a lot with decreasing the amount of dust and fur that might be floating around the air. For a more detailed discussion of the solutions for shedding in an apartment, read it here!

7. Light is Right: Use Highly Moveable Furniture

Most people have things they want to do in their apartment or studio apartment that include more than just sleeping. In my apartment, I do yoga, watch movies, have guests over for dinner, and even play VR games.

Having light furniture around allows your apartment to transform from one thing to another. It could be a cafe in the morning and then a movie theatre at night time and if you have been following the other tips – your cats are going to safely observe what you’re doing from their perches (most of the time).

Some of the things I have around in the home include (see above pictures):

  1. Large foldable decorated table (it looks like a picture or a painting when folded up but is actually a table)
  2. Light study table/electronics table – when I want to just sit on the couch and watch the tv while also maybe doing some light browsing on the web without my computer.
  3. Small sofa bed – when guests come over or it’s time to relax with a movie at night, it’s easy to fold it out into more of a lounge bed.
  4. Moveable cat scratching post – easy to move around so that it can create some elevated spaces when there isn’t any.

The other great thing about light furniture is that if something isn’t working out – it’s easy just to move it and place it somewhere else. It’s not fixed and it doesn’t have to be. These light pieces allow the cats to have some variety within their environment without giving them stress. It creates a sense of newness and curiosity without really changing anything.

Living With Cats in an Apartment: Conclusion

In summary, I believe if you want to have a good life for your cats or any pet, you’d put in the effort to do the best you can to provide them that life. I hope this article made you realize that a stimulating and active environment for your cats doesn’t require too much work or money.

What it does require is your willingness to be a little creative and to improve your cat’s life wherever they might live! I’m always learning and trying to enrich my cat’s life further and as such, I also invite you to comment with your own tips or strategies that you use in your apartment as well!

If I can manage to live in my studio apartment with 4 cats, you can too!


With a science background and years of experience including learning, observing, and training cats - increasing our beloved feline's welfare and wellbeing is the priority and passion.

3 thoughts on “6 Real Ideas for Living With Cats in an Apartment

  1. Hi, I am getting ready to purchase my first bengal cat and I found your videos by accident on You Tube and I am so glad that I did. I love the idea of suction hammocks. I was wondering if you could give me the link for the cat’s running wheel which I am interested in purchasing also with a cat pole. I think our little girl will find her new home quite amusing and fun to live in. Thank you again.
    Linda Ward

    1. Hi! Thanks for visiting my website! Unfortunately, the cat wheel that I purchased isn’t for sale outside of Korea :(. However, it’s quite similar to the popular OneFastCat wheel! So that would be the best alternative for now until the West has some more competition for cat wheels!

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