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Cat lying on a table by window

The essentials

  • Consider whether your space supports a cat — Even if your landlord allows pets, you’ll still need to factor in the costs of pet deposits and potential repairs.
  • Personality plays a part — While a cat’s quirks are determined more by the individual feline than by their breed, some cat breeds carry a reputation for certain traits, such as being talkative.
  • Factor in how much time you’ll be home — Every cat needs some quality time with their pet parents, but some are better suited to independence than others.

45.3 million people in the U.S. own a cat. With such a large number, it’s safe to assume that many cats reside in small living spaces — including apartments. Here are our top 10 picks.

What are the best cat breeds for apartments?

We’ve researched some of the most popular cat breeds to determine the best options for a dwelling with a small footprint. We looked at a few factors, including temperament and energy level, grooming needs, and size, as well as read feedback from owners, visited reputable websites such as the CFA (Cat Fancier’s Association), and learned about the most popular varieties. We’ve narrowed down the list to 10 breeds that are content living in a small space.

👉 Note: While this article talks about specific breeds, mixed breeds and rescues can also make fantastic pets. The way they act in an apartment setting can largely depend on their upbringing and personality.

Choosing a cat for your apartment

Now, let’s take a look at some of the best cat breeds for apartments.

1. Ragdoll

  • Build: Large but delicate
  • Size: 10-20 pounds
  • Characteristics: Fluffy coat, blue eyes, quiet, sensitive
Light-colored cat sitting on steps

Ragdoll cats have been around since the 1960s and originated in the United States. This breed is known for having a soft coat and a fluffy mane — this means you’ll have some regular brushing to do to keep their fur clean and mat-free. If purebred, they’ll also have distinctive blue eyes.

This beautiful breed comes with a sweet disposition and an affectionate personality. They’re docile and quiet, making them ideal for an apartment. However, these feline friends can have bursts of energy, so make sure they have toys to play with. Ragdolls are content to be left alone for short periods but prefer to be around people.

2. Persian

  • Build: Short legs, medium-sized body
  • Size: 7-12 pounds
  • Characteristics: Quiet, flat face, fluffy coat
Black cat sitting on carpeted stairs

Persians are known for their adorable flat face, lavish fur, and button nose. They generally have sweet, quiet, and calm temperaments. They love their family (even kiddos) and will enjoy sitting on your lap. These cats are also content to be left alone during the day and thrive as indoor pets. Persians actually shouldn’t be kept as outdoor pets since they’re prone to heat stroke due to their brachycephalic face.

3. British shorthair

  • Build: Medium-sized cat with a muscular body
  • Size: 7-17 pounds
  • Characteristics: Dense gray-blue single-layer coat
Grey cat with yellow eyes sitting on a dark couch

British shorthairs are typical average-sized cats with short, sleek coats that are traditionally gray-blue in appearance. These days, the colors can vary. Modern British shorthair varieties can also include tortoiseshell, bicolor, and calico. These affectionate cats usually have friendly personalities but don’t need constant attention. 

Despite their relaxed nature, British shorthairs thrive with some play time each day. Having ample toys or a cat tree are great ways to keep them entertained. While they have dense fur, their single-layered coat (no undercoat) should keep grooming minimal, aside from occasional brushing to help with shedding.

4. Scottish folds

  • Build: Compact body with “cropped” ears
  • Size: 6-13 pounds
  • Characteristics: Round face, playful, intelligent, affectionate
Tabby cat coming out of a paper bag

Scottish folds were discovered in 1961 in — you guessed it — Scotland. It all started with a cat with a gene mutation that causes folded ears. Besides their trademark ears, Scottish Folds are also known for their round heads and eyes. Scottish Folds have an interactive nature and need toys that provide mental stimulation. And if you need to leave them alone during the day, they’ll appreciate another pet to keep them company. Scottish Folds have a dense coat and are known to shed frequently, but regular brushing will help you keep on top of it.

5. Devon Rex

  • Build: Petite body with large round eyes and pointed ears
  • Size: 6-9 pounds
  • Characteristics: Playful, high energy, social, short coat
Light-colored cat in the foreground with a dark colored cat and furniture in the background

The Devon Rex is an active breed that loves lots of attention. While they can be left alone for a few hours, make sure they have plenty of stimulation to keep them busy while you’re away. Scratching posts and interactive toys are great options for higher-energy breeds like this. They have fine, short hair that requires minimal grooming. If you do brush your Devon Rex, make sure you use a soft brush or a damp rag to avoid damaging their sensitive skin.

6. American shorthair 

  • Build: Average-sized with balanced proportions
  • Size: 8-15 pounds
  • Characteristics: Relaxed, happy, low maintenance
Tabby cat sitting on a white couch

These strong cats have wide-set eyes, round heads, and dense coats. American shorthairs come in a wide range of colors and patterns, though they’re commonly known for the stark tabby pattern. Docile and easygoing, they’re happy living with singles, couples, or families. These cats often spend their days lounging and sleeping, making them very suitable for an apartment. Like any cat, you should make sure they have stimulating toys available and somewhere to scratch so they aren’t tempted by your furniture.

7. Sphynx 

  • Build: Small and slender framed
  • Size: 6-10 pounds
  • Characteristics: Vocal, lively, affectionate
Sphynx cat

The Sphynx is also known as the “bald cat.” While they may look entirely hairless, these cats actually have a thin layer of peach fuzz covering their pink, wrinkly bodies. Their unique bodies require frequent baths because of the excess oils in the skin, but ironically their skin also benefits from daily moisturizers.

Sphynx cats are loving and affectionate, typically needing ways to expel their energy and have some fun. You can leave them alone while you’re at work, but they’ll fret if you’re away for too long. They do best with knowledgeable cat owners who are around more often.

They need to be bathed often because of excess oils in their skin, and they require daily moisturizers. Also, they need daily sunblock. Unrelated to skin, [sphynx cats] may be more at risk for heart disease like HCM.

Dr. Erica Irish

8. Siamese 

  • Build: Long and lean with an average-sized body
  • Size: 8-15 pounds
  • Characteristics: Typically light coat with dark points, vocal, affectionate, high energy
Siamese cat laying on a leather chair

Siamese cats are a chatty breed with lots of energy. They’re very social and will be happy living in a home with another cat — especially if you’re at work all day. While Siamese cats can live happily in an apartment, you’ll want to make sure they have toys to play with and enough space to explore.

The Siamese cat is also known as one of the more hypoallergenic breeds. They’re low maintenance and will do most of the grooming themselves, making brushing their fur easy.

9. Russian blue 

  • Build: Average-sized cat with a dense double coat
  • Size: 7-12 pounds
  • Characteristics: Gray-blue fur, short thick coat, yellow or green eyes, sweet temperament
Russian blue cat in hammock

Gentle and sweet, the Russian blue greets their pet parents with a soft meow and yellow-green eyes full of love. Their iconic grey-blue coats earned them their favorable name and make them look bigger than they actually are. Weighing between 7 and 12 pounds, the Russian blue is an average-sized house cat with a thick double coat.

The Russian blue tends to shy away from strangers and large gatherings, but they usually like to cuddle with their owners. While they aren’t especially energetic, they are naturally curious and like to play.

10. Birman 

  • Build: Medium-large cat with thick paws
  • Size: 7-15 pounds
  • Characteristics: Silky medium-long cream-colored fur, blue eyes, quiet
White Birman cat with blue eyes

The quiet soft Birman always has color-pointed fur with white paws. With blue eyes and creamy fur, they’re very similar to ragdoll cats but aren’t quite as large.

While the Birman graces their pet parents with their sweet quiet temperament, they do require a lot of attention. Thus, they’re the perfect pet for people who work from home, or for seniors who spend most of the day indoors.

Tips for having a cat in an apartment 

Cats make fine apartment dwellers, but it’s best to do a little prep work before they move in. Consider these tips to make them feel at home from the moment they step paw through the door:

  • Opt for pet-friendly flooring. Even if a house with carpet allows pets, it’s still a better idea to choose somewhere with laminate or tile flooring instead. If your place does have carpet, you can protect it by placing tape around the corners where your cat might scratch or block off that part of the house if it’s only a small area.
  • Create a safe and relaxing personal space. Every cat needs a nook. A window seat or cat tree with a view provides the perfect perch. Even if you’re in a small apartment, choose a corner or small area where no one else will bother them — including other pets.
  • Provide enrichment activities. Cardboard scratchers, cat trees, and toys keep your kitty from destructive boredom.
  • Spend intentional time with your cat every day. Life gets busy, but you never want your cat to feel like you’re only home to feed them and scoop their litter box. Make sure you spend bonding time with your cat playing and snuggling so they feel comfortable and loved.
  • Protect the blinds. Safeguard your security deposit by raising the blinds as soon as you get to your new place — preferably before your kitty notices these dangling plastic swings. Consider installing blackout curtains instead if you’re worried about privacy.

Considerations before moving a cat into an apartment

If you want to rent with a pet, it’s not always a straightforward process. Be sure you check your complex’s pet policies and make your leasing office aware that you plan to bring a new animal home. If you’re sharing a living area, you’ll also need to make sure all roommates are on board with having a pet.

Cat breeds to avoid in an apartment 

Certain temperaments are better suited for apartment living than others — and vice versa. Usually, the individual cat’s personality is more of a determinant than breed, but even so, certain types of cats generally don’t bode well with indoor living in small spaces.

For example, Abyssian cats love to swim and boast tons of energy. They may scale the walls if you try to put them in a one-bedroom rental or obsessively attempt to escape to the community pool leering outside the window. Bengal cats are also notorious for engaging in energetic shenanigans that are ill-suited for apartment living.

Hybrids such as the Savannah cat are also ill-suited for apartments since they like to be outside away from humans. Also, rescue cats that were previously strays or feral may not do well in an indoor-only home.

If you live in an apartment, a cat can be the perfect companion. Keep in mind some breeds are more compatible with apartment living than others, but nearly any cat can make a fantastic pet regardless of their breeding.

When looking for a new kitty, also consider visiting shelters, rescues, and sites like Petfinder to find your perfect match. You never know what gem is waiting for you to adopt them!

Frequently asked questions

What cat is best for an apartment?

Cats with low energy and affectionate personalities, like the Persian, are generally the most content living indoors in small spaces. Breeds with high energy or high prey drives are usually more difficult to care for indoors, but it may work depending on the cat.

Where should a cat litter box be placed in a studio apartment?

Placing a litter box in a bathroom may work best for a tiny apartment. You can always turn on the exhaust fan to lift the smell away, and it won’t linger near the kitchen or living area. Keeping a clean litter box is the most important aspect, though, no matter how much (or little) space you have.

What are some tips for cats in a studio apartment?

While it’s possible to care for a cat in a small space, keeping things tidy will be your main challenge. Maintaining a clean litter box and providing a safe haven for your cat away from other family members keeps everyone happy. You should also give your cat enrichment toys like scratchers and toys to entertain them and keep their claws in good shape.

How do you get a cat used to living in an apartment once they’ve been outdoors?

Moving a cat indoors can be challenging, but enriching their daily life with cat scratchers and toys can help. Giving your cat a window seat or cat tree with a view helps them feel like they’re outside, even if they’re not. If your cat still darts for the door every time you step out, you might want to consider harness training them for walks so they can safely go outdoors with you.

Can cats be emotional support animals?

Registering your cat as an ESA can nearly guarantee your cat will have a home with you, regardless of where you live. Emotional support animals are exempt from pet deposits and are generally allowed in housing, even if the landlord doesn’t allow pets. To qualify, you’ll need a recommendation letter from a licensed mental health professional.