If you’re a cat lover, then it can be difficult to understand why people don’t always feel the same way about your feline friend. This is especially the case if you’re searching for a pet-friendly apartment to live in with your cat. Cats can be a big no-no for many landlords who find it easier to simply ban all pets outright rather than taking the time to screen a cat-loving owner.
However, there’s always the exception, and some landlords are open to the idea of allowing pets in their rental apartment. But to be a good candidate for one of these, it’s crucial that you can show that your cat is extremely well-behaved, clean, flea-free and quiet.
Creating a pet résumé can be useful to show to a potential landlord. This will help them get to know your cat and give them an outline of their history, such as breed, age, personality, vet visits, whether they’ve been spayed or neutered, flea treatments, etc.
If you are successful in your apartment search, then you have a responsibility to meet your cat’s needs and be able to take care of them while living in a rented apartment. You also need to respect your landlord’s property and to meet the obligations set out in your tenancy agreement.
But there’s no reason why it can’t work if everyone sticks to the rules.
What is a Pet-friendly Apartment?
Cats are naturally a territorial species, so living in an apartment will restrict their access to the outside world if there’s no immediate garden for them to explore. This can be somewhat of a challenge but, armed with the right cat equipment and knowledge, you can successfully make your apartment a pet-friendly space for them to live in.
There are lots of ways you can transform a living space into a pet-friendly apartment to keep your cat comfy and occupied so it doesn’t tear up the furniture or make a nuisance of itself with your neighbors. Check out these ideas to pet proof your apartment for starters and then learn what you can do to keep your cat from getting bored.
Now we’ll take a look at some things you can do specifically to ensure that your cat's needs are taken care of and how to keep your landlord happy at the same time!
How Many Cats Am I Allowed?
Make sure the apartment you rent allows pets. Be aware of the number of pets you're allowed to keep and adhere to that number. This means taking into account fostered and rescued animals, as they count towards the quota.
Rent a place that has enough space for your pets. Cats, like people, need their alone time, so a good rule of thumb is to have one per room. For example, if you’re looking at renting a one-bedroom apartment that has a separate living area, then two cats could comfortably co-exist.
Why Landlords Prefer Spayed/Neutered Cats
Your landlord, even if they are amenable to you having a cat, will probably ask if it has been spayed or neutered. A female cat that hasn’t been spayed can yowl when in heat and runs the risk of producing a litter of kittens. If you have a male cat that hasn’t been neutered it can go roaming, get into fights with neighborhood cats and spray urine.
The process of spaying/neutering generally doesn’t affect a cat’s personality or level of activity afterwards and can make you a much better candidate for a tenant in a landlord’s eyes. Spaying and neutering are not very expensive and will keep your cat happy and healthy in the long run .
Make Sure Your Cat Isn't Bored
Cats do like to spend a lot of time sleeping, but they still need stimulation and entertainment in the form of toys and games. As their owner, it’s up to you to find ways to make your apartment more fun for a cat.
This can involve installing a freestanding climbing wall, making comfy hidey holes with baskets and blankets, buying them some toys like a fluffy catnip mouse or an interactive feeder that rewards them with treats, and playing some soothing music when you’re not at home.
It’s a good idea to do this because a bored cat can get into a lot of mischief when you’re not at home, including scratching walls and door frames, climbing blinds, and attacking furniture with gusto.
From a landlord’s point of view, knowing that your cat doesn’t have behavior problems and that you can keep them sufficiently occupied when you’re at work will put their mind at ease, especially if the apartment you’re renting with a cat is fully furnished.
You still may have to pay a slightly higher rental deposit if you have a cat to insure against mishaps, but hopefully your landlord won’t need to use it!
Make Sure You Keep Their Litter Box Clean
If your cat is housebound or is unable to go outside much during the day, then a litter box is an essential accessory. Even if they have a cat flap, you may need them to stay inside at night to protect them from neighborhood cats, so they will need to use a litter box.
Unfortunately bad smells can hang around a litter box, so it’s important to establish a regular cleaning regime as soon as you move in. This is important if you want to keep your home smelling fresh and your landlord happy, especially if they’re doing an inspection of the apartment.
To minimise odors, remove waste and urine-soiled litter once a day. If you find that difficult to achieve, consider investing in an automatic litter box. Clean the entire tray weekly with hot water and detergent or a cat-friendly disinfectant. Don’t use disinfectants like Dettol as they are toxic to cats.
You may be tempted to use a litter that is deodorised, but many cats don’t like the fragrance. There are lots of different kinds of litter on the market that you can try, many of which are lightweight, biodegradable, and have excellent odour-neutralizing properties.
A covered or closed litter box with a removable lid can help to reduce odour and visibility of soiled litter (as well as messes from litter being scratched onto the floor) but again your cat has to feel comfortable using this.
Also they may feel vulnerable in a confined space with only one exit point. A litter box that gives ample room to move is best - one and a half times the length of your cat from nose to the base of its tail is recommended.
Always position the litter box in a discreet corner away from the kitchen area where you’ll be prepping and cooking food, out of the way of busy thoroughfares, and somewhere the cat feels secure to use it. One litter box for each cat is ideal.
Scratching Posts and Sticky Tape Are A Must!
For a cat, scratching is an essential part of their nature and how they express themselves in a number of ways. Scratching can be playful, to remove frayed or worn claws, to strengthen tendons, to scent mark territory, to signal a warning to other cats and more.
You can’t really stop a cat from scratching, but unfortunately this means that door frames, furniture, curtains and carpet can become subject to shreds, rips and tears. As we mentioned earlier, your landlord will be concerned about this if you’re renting with a cat in a fully furnished apartment.
To dissuade a cat from causing damage by scratching, you need to teach them where and what to scratch. Does your cat have a penchant for scratching the curtains? Then provide a sturdy vertical scratching post that allows them to stretch fully. Place it near the curtains and tempt your cat to use the scratching post by placing catnip-scented toys on it.
Perhaps the couch is a favored scratching spot? Double-sided sticky tape, such as Sticky Paws, can be applied directly to the furniture to deter cats from scratching it. This tends to work well as the tape is easily removed when your cat has learned not to scratch and won’t harm the furniture.
You may have to experiment with a few different types and materials for scratching posts. Just like humans, cats have varying tastes!
Keeping Your Apartment Clean
Cats are really the perfect pet to keep in a rented apartment because they take great care with their personal hygiene. Unlike dogs which require regular baths, cats spend 15-20% of their time cleaning themselves, without needing any input from you.
Your landlord has nothing to worry about in this respect, but they may be concerned about your cat shedding fur on the carpet and furniture. It’s true that cats can shed a lot of hair depending on their breed and the time of year, and though it is a natural process, it can seem like there is a never-ending pile of fur to clean up.
Some cat owners think it’s better to have carpet as fur sticks to the floor and can be vacuumed up, while other cat owners have hard flooring and use disposable dust cloths to clean up any fur tumbleweeds.
At the end of the day it’s up to you, but you should know that living in an apartment with a cat will require a bit more sweeping or vacuuming, whatever type of floor you have.
Regularly brushing your cat with a specialized brush or comb can help reduce the amount of fur you have to clean up, and cats tend to love getting brushed anyway!
Prevent and Treat Fleas Early to Avoid Infestation
Even if your cat has never had a problem with fleas before, your landlord is right to be worried about the possibility. But show them that you have flea control methods in place and you can put their mind at ease.
Contrary to popular belief, even an indoor cat can contract fleas as these can be brought into your apartment by you, a family member or a friend. All they have to do is jump on an article of clothing and hitch a ride. Once indoors, the flea jumps onto your cat and lays eggs. In three to 10 days, the eggs hatch, and you have a flea problem.
Catch the problem early by regularly checking your cat and its bedding for tell-tale signs of fleas - flea dirt looks like flecks of black pepper. Vacuuming and washing your cat's bedding often will also suck up any stray fleas.
If you find any signs of fleas, or your cat has been scratching a lot, ask your vet about treatment options for their flea problem. Your vet will probably recommend the use of a spot-on monthly topical treatment to kill and repel adult fleas within the first 12 hours. This will also have growth inhibitors to prevent eggs and larvae from developing and causing future infestations.
Be aware that if your cat does have a flea problem then it will be up to you (not your landlord) to pay for your cat’s treatment and for any fumigation necessary to get rid of the fleas from furniture and carpet.
Make Sure Windows and Doors Are Safe
Cats like to explore, so even the slightest gap in a window or door is likely to tempt a curious cat to squeeze through it.
A friend once looked after a large, fluffy cat and left the window in her bedroom open a minuscule amount, thinking that there was no way he would get through the gap. But amazingly he did, and the cat was most put out when he was discovered sitting on the lawn under a tree, and was hastily taken back inside.
The lesson here is to keep the window shut at all times to make sure your cat can’t squeeze out! It’s also for their own safety so they don’t injure themselves falling from a high window ledge.
If you want to have fresh air then install a cat-proof window screen so they can happily sit inside on the window sill and be safe. There are lots of options for pet screens on the market if your landlord is sympathetic to your cat's needs and is ok with you installing a cat-proof window screen.
As you can see renting with a cat isn’t a responsibility to be taken lightly. But if you’ve covered all the steps outlined above, you should be able to look after your cat and keep your landlord happy too!
Author’s BioAngela Pearse is a blogger for Zumper who frequently combines travel with freelance writing. She’s passionate about Art Deco hotels, historical novels, Netflix, hiking and healthy living.