How to make small spaces cat friendly

Cat sitting on kitchen table

I love that I am writing a post on making small spaces cat friendly, but the feature imagine I chose is clearly a spacious house lol. Oh the irony haha

We live in a small one bedroom suite and we have an indoor cat. Some people argue that indoor cats get bored (easily) and therefore you should let them out. To be quite honest – I am all about letting your cat enjoy the outdoor responsibly. That’s why I trained my cat to be okay wearing harness and being on leash.

Here are couple ways that you can make small places cat friendly:

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Play with your cat regularly

One of the most important ways to keep your cat happy is to play with them every day. This will help them burn off energy and stay mentally stimulated. When playing with your cat, try to mimic their natural prey, such as mice or birds. Allow them to stalk, chase, and “kill” the toy. This will help to keep them entertained and engaged.

Here is a great video explaining how to play with your cat to mimic their hunting behaviour:

Spend time with your cat

I do realize that this point may seem like a copy and paste of the previous one. I wanted to point out that if you have an indoor cat, you are their most interesting “thing”. And cats need to be around their humans to feel loved and secure. So make sure to spend time with your cat every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. This could involve petting them, brushing them, or just sitting and talking to them.

Provide different toys and rotate them

It’s a no brainer to give your pet some toys to keep them entertained. It’s best to have a variety of toys so you can challenge your cat both physically and mentally. And lets be honest – your cat is probably gonna ignore the expensive toys and go after that candy wrapper by your nightstand 😉

Some of my go to “cat toys” are: wrapped up receipts, empty carboard boxes, cut up toilet paper roll (it’s the best thing to play fetch with it), and the list goes on…

And make sure to rotate the toys – cats like novelty and tend to stop playing with “old” toys. I have a little toy basket where I keep Chumka’s toys and take out only couple at a time. That way I don’t spend a fortune on getting him new toys.

Check out my post on 12 easy ideas for $0 DIY cat toys! 😊

Cat using puzzle Petstages Get your cat treat puzzles or snuffle mat

I feel like I mention getting pet puzzles waaay too much lol. But it’s seriously one of the best “investment” I did as a cat parent. You can read my review on one of our current cat puzzles here.

They help to stimulate your pet’s mind and encourage natural foraging skills. I often leave it out for Chumka when I have some errands to run after work and won’t be back until later in the day. That way he won’t try to get into my kitchen cupboards looking for food haha.

Another great idea are treat dispensing toys. Your cat needs to work a bit to get them snackies out – and you can set the difficulty level by choosing how wide you want the opening to be.

Or a great budget option – just hide the treats around your apartment for your cat to find.

Provide vertical space

Cats are naturally climbers and love to feel secure up high. You can add shelves, cat trees, or even a window perch to your apartment to give your cat plenty of places to explore. This will help to keep your cat mentally stimulated and prevent them from becoming bored or restless.

Bonus point: providing cats with a place up high that they can rest/ observe from (especially by a window) can help with cats jumping on the countertops.

Window perch/ hammock is a great purchase when you live in a small space. They don’t take much space, are easy to install, and they allow your pet to chill and observe the world.

Great addition to any place!
Cat Window Perch
This bed can hold up to 40lbs! And it comes with flannel pads to allow your cat to enjoy the sunshine and views comfortably.

Give your cat a safe place to hide

(Chumka came over as I was typing this part and wanted to share this message with you: “er43333333333333334eswwwwwwwwwwwwwwats“)

Cats love to have a place to hide where they feel safe and secure. You can provide a cat bed or even a cardboard box for your cat to hide in. This will give your cat a place to go when they feel stressed or scared.

Bonus point: If you give your cat a hiding spot that is easily accessible for you, in a worst case scenario where you need to grab your cat and leave – you won’t struggle to get him from under the bed etc.

Provide a clean litter box

Now you might think to yourself, “that’s kind of obvious to get a litterbox for a cat”. You’re absolutely right! A clean litter box is essential for a happy cat. But the reason I write this point is because people often get covered litterboxes (like inside kitty tree) when they live in small spaces. And I totally understand it – you can’t see it, it often traps the smells, and it can be aesthetically pleasing.

But there are couple issues with that…

  • It can be difficult for larger cats to turn around and position themselves in a covered litterbox.
  • If you have more than one cat, it may lead to easier ambushes by other cats on exit.
  • An “out of sight, out of mind” box is easy to forget about, which may lead to a dirty box with odors trapped inside that’s unappealing to your cat.
  • Covered boxes don’t allow as much air circulation so it takes longer for litter to dry. Odor is contained in the box, so it can be more offensive to the cat who is inside.

Little tip: Plastic still holds bacteria. No matter how much you clean, the bacteria will hide out in the little scratch marks that your kitty leaves behind. It’s best to use stainless steel litterboxes – Check out my post on our recommended kitty bathroom essentials.

Take your cat outside for supervised walks

This will give your cat a chance to explore and get some fresh air. By letting your cat out in a harness/leash, you will keep your pet safe from wildlife, parasites, and other health problems. I made an ultimate guide to choosing a cat harness that will suit your and your cat’s needs.

Check out my post on how I find cat friendly places to explore.

Cat laying in grass Some additional tips

Fruit flies and other bugs are your friends

It’s always a pain realizing you left your banana(s) out for too long and now you have those little flies. But don’t worry – it’s a perfect opportunity for your cat to show off their hunting skills and show ’em who’s the boss.

It can be quite an entertaining live TV for you.

Consider getting two cats

I know this option is rather a privilege in this economy and rental rules, but if you’re able to do it – do it. Two cats will keep each other company and play with each other, which can help to reduce boredom and loneliness.

Provide your cat with a variety of scratching surfaces

This will help to keep your furniture safe from your cat’s claws. You can get scratching mats that wrap around table legs! This is a great budget and space friendly option.

Cat proof your windows and balcony

You may need to install a catio or other barrier to prevent your cat from escaping/ falling out. But it also helps with keeping birds safe – your cat is always on a lookout for a tasty snack 😉 Make sure that your (window) screens and barriers are secure and tough – one of my cats ripped the screen when jumping through it LOL

This point is especially important if you have tilting windows (very popular in Europe). This article explains the danger of leaving those windows unsecuredjust a warning, some people might find the pictures graphic/ upsetting. There is no blood, gore, or anything – but it does show cats who got stuck in those windows and suffered injuries.

Here is a research paper on the “bottom hung window” trauma in cats.

cat sleeping on bed Final words

With a little planning and effort, you can create a happy and stimulating home for your indoor cat in an apartment.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Please give your pet(s) some love from me 😊💛

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Picture of Paulina, Chumka's Mom

Paulina, Chumka's Mom