Can Cats Ruin Apartments? Don’t Let Them!

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Can Cats Ruin Apartments? Cats and kittens can ruin apartments and smaller homes if their behaviors and energy levels are not properly managed. For cat owners, the only concern will be furniture scratches and stains. If the cat has more serious behavioral issues, the carpet, flooring, or walls can be damaged.

Cat relaxing in an apartment.
Living with cats in small apartments is not difficult. However, be prepared to put in the research and effort into improving all aspects of your cat’s life!

Raising a cat can sometimes involve a lot of sweat, blood, tears, money, and patience, especially if you plan on raising one in a smaller living space such as an apartment. Various factors must be considered—the cat’s personality, how well it has been trained, its energy levels, and more.

Cats may leave no trace of their existence in your apartment or make quite a mess. It all depends on how you’ve raised your cat and the preventive measures you’ve taken in your home. Keep reading for more insights.

How Much Damage Can a Cat Do to An Apartment or Home?

Cats can ruin an apartment, but the chances are low if they are healthy and their environment satisfies all their physical and behavioral needs.

These needs are:

  1. Places to scratch and sharpen their claws.
  2. A variety of places to deposit their scent to be familiar with their surroundings.
  3. Hunting stimulation through purposeful play and activities.
  4. High perches/vantage points for cats to explore and get a sense of security in their environment.

So what’s the most damage a cat can do?

  • An anxious, stressed cat may avoid the litter box and spray everywhere, even on your expensive, new fabric sheets and carpets. Cats may also vomit if they are sick, have hairballs, or in poor physical condition.
  • A cat that without proper places to scratch may end up scratching your sofa sets, doors, woodwork, and your wooden furniture. Additionally, cats tend to enjoy to roughouse with small soft objects in the home, potentially making big holes and tears on your cushions, pillowcases, and more.
  • If you have delicate ornaments placed on low shelves, you run the risk of your cat knocking them off when they are jumping from one place to another or are in a playful or jolly mood.
  • Cats that are bored and without mental stimulation in terms of their routine and environment can lash out behaviorally and thus, at risk of getting aggressive and destructive. Therefore, if your space is particular small and compact, your cats may feel all the more confined and restrained and end up causing more damage than anticipated.
  • Because of their fur and constant shedding (like any animal), it can clog up vents, plumbing, or appliances.
  • Cats without an outlet to express their natural behaviors such as climbing, jumping, and hunting may learn to do so with human things.

Costs Associated with Property Damage Done By Cats

Apartment damage can be expensive depending on the extent of the damage and where the cats have caused it. For example, compared to a big tear in the fabric of the couch, a small scratch would be cheaper to fix. A cat may scratch doors, windows, drawers, or any other part of the house that is easily accessible. So the repair cost would vary according to the damage caused by the cats.

However, here’s a table of what to expect for each category of damage:

Damage Type/CategoryEstimated Averages of Repair or Replacement Costs
Scratched Furniture or Upholstery$100 – $250
Damaged Wallpaper$200 – $800
Carpet Damage$700 – $2000, on average up to 200 square feet.
Appliance Repairs$50 – $500
Damaged Curtains and Other Fabrics$50 – $200
Table 1. Estimated Cost of Repairs and Replacement For Damage Done By Cats. Prices estimation in US dollars. Source:

Things To Know Before You Bring a Cat To Your Apartment

Keeping a cat in your apartment comes with a great deal of responsibility. For kittens especially, you need to look over them as much, if not more, as you would look over a human baby or toddler. Before you go out and pick your feline companion, you should be aware of these factors.

Know Your Apartment’s Policies

Check your apartment’s pet policies before getting a cat, or any pet for that matter. Most small-scale apartments that run tight on space tend to have a no-pet policy. So getting a pet to a spot where they aren’t welcomed by law in the first place might turn things sour.

How to Deal with The Apartment Landlord

Your landlord might not feel the same way about your cat as you do. If your cat is too energetic for the apartment and ends up damaging the space, you may end up with an angry landlord who would be challenging to face and could jeopardize your tenancy.

It would be best if you made your landlord realize that your feline friend is entirely safe to keep in the apartment.

It will benefit you to be mindful of these tips if you want a happy cat and a happy landlord.

  • You have to assure your landlord that the cat is well-behaved, compliant, and entirely under your control. You can guarantee them their safety by sharing your cat’s breeding and health history with them.
  • Most landlords are fine with the idea of keeping a cat as long as they are spayed or neutered. If they have such a prerequisite, make certain that your cat meets them before you introduce them to the landlords.
  • An unclean and unsanitary litter box amounts to an apartment with unsanitary living conditions. Always clean and dispose of the box’s contents to keep the space free from any rancid smell that is likely to upset the landlord.
  • Ask your landlord beforehand how many cats you are allowed to keep at the apartments and if they prefer a specific breed of cats over the others. Some cat breeds do better in apartments than others!

Prevent Your Cat From Ruining or Damaging Your Apartment

It is no secret that living with a pet is not easy, and it comes with its fair share of ups and downs. As a sensible tenant and pet parent, you are expected to follow specific measures that will help prevent or reduce the risk of your cat causing damage to your house or your apartment.

Here are a few keynotes to remember and implement to protect your home and apartment from damage.

Spaying or Neuter Your Cats As Soon As Possible

If you have a female cat, you can spay them—spaying is when their ovaries and uterus are removed through surgery. If you have a male cat, you may neuter them—get their testicles removed surgically. Standard practice is to spay and neuter at five to six months.

The main reason is to reduce their territory-marking behavior like spraying urine around your apartment and aggressive behavior. They will also be less likely to express hormonally based behaviors. For example, when female cats come into heat, they become much more vocal and demanding behavior, which they do more than dogs. Cats usually come into heat every three weeks during mating and remain in heat for six days. Intact male cats on the other hand will try to escape (or force their way out) the apartment at any chance they get to find a mate on the outside.

The second reason for getting this done as soon as possible is to prevent unwanted litters that the cat may produce. If you live in an apartment that already lacks space, a litter of kittens is the last thing you want. You would also help decrease the number of kittens going into shelters every year.

Spaying offers other benefits too—a longer lifespan, lower probability of contracting urinary infection, and certain cancers. Ideally, spay your kitten before it turns five months old.

Prioritize Cat-Proofing Your Apartment

Cats are adventurous, so they wouldn’t think twice before opening a window or a door and exposing themselves to outside perils. Your cats also run the risk of injuring themselves with different pointy objects and furniture around the house. Moreover, cats that learn to play with cables and wires will wreak havoc on appliances and risk choking hazards and electric shock.

Part of cat-proofing your apartment or home is to catify (or create cat-centric spaces!)

They can also get through your personal belongings, kitchen stuff, and unsafe nooks and crannies of the apartment and go where they are not supposed to. This is why cat proofing the house with screens, locks, and other safety nets and mechanisms is highly necessary and practical.

Also read: How to Cat-Proof Your Office Area

The Litter and Litter Box Matters

If you have a cat in your apartment, this means that to avoid issues such as odors, diseases, and behavioral problems (litter box avoidance) – the litter box has to be maintained. A litter box is where your cat will pee and poop, so this means regular cleaning and refilling of the litter is required. To prevent the smell from penetrating the apartment and litter from going everywhere (litter tracking solutions!), it’s essential to have a system in place to keep the litter box area well managed.

Other points of consideration is the placement of the litter box and type of litter that you might use! The typical sand litter can not only spread everywhere but depending on your flooring, can scratch up the softer types of flooring and get into nooks and crannies of your home. Therefore, choosing the right litter for apartments is crucial for living with a cat or kitten.

Here’s the litter type that I recommend for apartments: Complete Pine Litter Guide.

Keep Your Cat Entertained

A bored cat can contribute to a lot of damage. When your cat has nothing to do daily, no toys to play with, no outdoors or expansive space to jump and play around, and no interaction with humans in the home, they may end up feeling weary and bored with their mundane, monotonous life.

This can make them chew on furniture, wires, upholstery, and other objects around the home! If this happens repeatedly, it is time to stimulate your cat through regular exercise, proper diet mentally, mealtimes, and keep them occupied with different activities throughout the day.

Bengal cats are notorious for being high-energy and high maintenance! Thus, if you’re worried about ruining your apartment – it’s best to avoid this specific cat breed!

A bored cat can also be excessively attached to you. It is common for them to go through bouts of separation anxiety. In such a condition, they feel disconnected from you, and the one way to show this is through their behavioral change.

Besides crying and moaning, cats can become aggressive and destroy items around the house. Make sure to prepare your cat for such a situation so that you do not come back from your office to a messy house.

Trim or Cap Your Cat’s Claws to Minimize Damage

Trim your cat’s nails because long, sharp nails and unclipped claws mean scratches and damage caused to hardwood, leather, and other wood and fabrics around the house. If your cats hate their nails being trimmed, other tools such as silicone nail caps cover your cat’s nails to prevent any damage from being done – even if they do scratch.

Read more: How to Protect Furniture From Your Cats

Use Scratching Pads and Guards

Almost all cats have an instinctual need and a tendency to scratch things to sharpen their claws. Provide them with pads and posts that they can scratch instead of your furniture for their scratching needs. You can also cover the corners of the furniture with protective guards to prevent your cat from scratching them. It’s also important to make sure that the scratching post is stable and tall enough to accommodate even the largest cats.

I recommend this scratch post: 1+ Year Plus Review of The Ultimate Scratching Post

Health, Cleanliness and Maitenance is Crucial

Your cleaning, vacuuming, and just home maintenance routine will become more elaborate after you welcome a cat into your life and your house. There will be a lot of fur shedding to be cleaned up daily. The smaller your apartment space is, the more noticeable the shed fur will be, and the more thorough and regular your cleaning will need to be.

Can Cats Ruin Apartments? Conclusion

There is no harm in having a little furry companion by your side in your apartment to give you company. However, you should only commit to bringing up a cat by yourself if you are ready to take on the challenges they will throw at you from time to time.

If you are confident that your apartment offers a cat-friendly environment where all your cat’s basic needs will be appropriately met, you should not have difficulty raising a cat. It only gets tricky when you raise an untrained and undomesticated cat who has behavioral issues and acts up frequently.

So if you want to protect expensive upholstery, pieces of furniture, and valuable antique pieces lying around your apartment, make sure to train your cats responsibly.


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.

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