Is It Cruel to Keep a Cat in a Studio Apartment?

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More and more people are living in smaller spaces and people don’t think they can take care of cats within such small spaces like these. I too wondered if it was possible to create an environment in which my cats can be happy and still have space for myself to relax or work. Nowadays, I think differently – read more below.

Now the main question that comes to mind is if it’s cruel to keep a cat in a studio apartment? It’s not cruel to keep a cat in a studio apartment if you pay attention to a cat’s needs and not only their physical needs. This includes having a lot of elevated areas and stimulation (regular playtime).

Although cats seem to be aloof creatures that can be left on their own, they have needs that have to be filled for them to live an enriched life. So It doesn’t matter too much about the size of the home but rather how your space is used.

Cruelty is any type of behavior that might cause pain and suffering to a living thing – neglect included. So instead of passively hoping that our cats enjoy wherever that they live, why not create the place that they want to live. No matter the size of your apartment or living space this can be done.

A Cat Centered Studio Apartment Environment

In Asia and other places that have a high density of people – tiny studio apartments are common living spaces. Cats are far and away the most popular pet to have in these types of living spaces.

As I visited my friends with cats in particular – their cats seemed perfectly happy with their living situation. They were very well socialized and enjoyed living in their space. This wasn’t everyone of course but it was a good amount of people.

The common thing for the cats that were living satisfying lives were the ones were the apartments had a lot of shelving, racks, or stairs. Or in other words, a lot of points off of the ground so that they can survey the area, get away from the noise or just be alone.

In Korea, there’s a type of studio environment that actually has a tiny upstairs portion for the bed space/sleep area. This provides -a lot- of elevation areas for their cats and still allows the apartment to be small.

A typical 1.5-floor small apartment in Korea

For the studio apartments that don’t have this upstairs section – having elevated areas around the home is not hard. Many people opt for the cat tower route but it tends to take up more space than expected because of its large size. For more information visit: How to Keep a Cat(s) in One Room!

Cat Study in Furnished VS Minimally Furnished Apartments

A study on neutered cats in apartments was conducted using apartments that were furnished with a lot of shelves and elevated furniture and control of just a regular apartment using minimal elevated furniture.

They recorded how often the cats were on these types of furniture and how many negative or positive behaviors were exhibited by these cats in each of these apartments.

The result of this study was that the cats were three times as likely to be off of the ground in the apartment with the shelves than in the apartment without. As such, there were much fewer territorial issues within the elevated space and the cats had fewer negative interactions with each other throughout the day.

For Cats: A Boring Space is Worse Than a Small Space

I believe when people talk about being worried that their apartment is too small they are worried that their home might be too boring for their cats.

But the main point is that small doesn’t have to be boring. Cats outside are able to hunt, hide, and climb. Why not bring those things to the studio apartment as well? Catification doesn’t need to be expensive or hard, read more about Catification on a Budget!

In general, if you follow the above about providing these elevated areas – you have covered the hiding and climbing part but what about the hunting?

Dogs need to be walked every day but cats need to hunt. Hunting just means playing with your cat in a way that they might hunt outside in the wild. I go into more in-depth about this specific trait here but keeping it short and simple – play with your cats on a regular basis.

Whether it be with a ball or a wand toy – to allow them to chase and catch something is to allow them to do what cats are designed to do. To find and catch small living things such as rodents or insects.

This is the best therapy for any cat. A session of play for a cat provides so many behavioral benefits.

Cats Alone in a Studio Apartment

When anybody gets a cat or any animal for that matter – we always have to think about how much attention we can give to them.

Cats are known to not need as much attention when compared to dogs but they still get bored, lonely, and discontent when they don’t have an adequate amount of attention.

Some cats enjoy being alone but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the attention of their owners. They might be sitting away from you but they take comfort from the fact that you are around them.

Their levels of independence depend on their personality and breed but studies have all shown that cats are actually very social animals. They love interacting with humans and other cats.

My current studio apartment – you can see all 4 of my cats in this photo. Can you find them all?

If anybody is thinking about getting a cat and cannot or don’t want to interact with them on a daily basis – then it’s difficult for your cat to develop into a well-socialized cat. Of course, people work and that’s okay – but when you are there – give them some attention in the form of play therapy.

In a study of their social behavior – shelter cats and pet cats were given the choice of four different stimuli: toys, scent, food, or human social interaction. The majority of cats (both shelter and pets) chose human interaction, followed by food.

When You Cannot Be With Your Cats

If there’s a situation that you cannot be around for long periods of time (maybe working for more than the standard 8 hours a day) then the next best thing for their social lives is having a companion cat.

We discussed above that even though cats are more independent than their barking canine counterparts, they still generally prefer human interaction. So if you cannot be around for longer periods of time – a friend can help with their boredom and socialization.

The key here is choosing the companion that is the right match for your current resident cat so that we can minimize the stressful first couple of days during a cat-to-cat introduction. Every cat has its own quirks and how they like to play.

After the introduction, however (Illustrated Introduction Guide) having two or more cats is so much better than one. Rather than your cats always needing your attention – they can focus on each other and learn how to behave around each other.


In conclusion, going back to the main question – is it cruel to have cats in a studio apartment? It is not cruel if you are willing to create an enriched environment of social interactions, instinctual satisfaction, and physically beneficial for your cats.

While this might sound difficult at first – it’s very manageable and only requires a few changes. Whether it’s choosing the correct furniture or the way you play with your cats.

When it might be cruel is when you want a cat for just having another animal in the home without thinking about what its needs are. Because then, you are causing indirect harm to your cat’s developmental process.


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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