7 Best Cats for Apartment Living

Lots of cats can thrive living in apartments and condos.

cat sleeping indoors
Jena Ardell / Getty Images

What kinds of cats are best for living in apartments? Which cats do well in condos? If you live in an apartment or condo, you will be happy to know that many cats thrive living in small spaces as long as you do your part to provide enough attention, play, engagement and environmental enrichment.

Enriching the Indoors

Although cats love to run and play outside, domesticated cats are safer indoors. The American Animal Hospital Association, the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Veterinary Medical Association all recommend against allowing cats to roam free outdoors, where they can contract diseases, come into contact with poisons, be attacked by wildlife or other domestic pets, be hit by cars, become victims of animal cruelty, or be lost or stolen. 

Life indoors is safest, but it can be boring for cats, which are instinctually driven to roam and hunt. It can become even more dull when that home is a very small space like an apartment or condo. However, there are many ways you can provide enrichment to your indoor-only cat. The smaller your living space, the more enrichment your cat needs. Consider the following environmental enrichment ideas:

Places to Climb and Perch

Cats love to climb and survey their territory. Consider using cat trees and kitty condos, or even installing shelving and ramp systems on your walls for your cats to traverse like a feline highway. Adding such areas increases the amount of space available to your cat to explore and enjoy in a small apartment or condo. 

Places to Scratch

Scratching is a natural behavior that is enjoyable for cats. To keep your couch and carpet intact, provide many acceptable scratching areas. Place toys or even catnip around scratching areas to encourage your cat to use them. For variety, provide both vertical scratching places (like posts or cat trees) and horizontal (like cardboard or sisal boards that lie on the ground).  

Playtime

Provide different types of toys like ball and mice, feather wands, and even interactive electronic toys. To keep things fresh and interesting for your cat, rotate toys by putting some away for a few weeks, then reintroducing them (and taking other toys out of the rotation). Set aside time to play with your cat several times a day. 

“Hunt” for Food

In the wild, your cat would expend physical and mental energy hunting for his dinner. Recreate that in your home by breaking up his dinner into smaller portions and hiding them around the house. Also consider food puzzle toys that require your cat to push levers or roll balls to dispense dry cat food. 

Safe Time Outdoors

Being able to go outside in a safe manner is enriching for cats, especially cats that live in small quarters like an apartment. Some cats enjoy walking outside on a leash and harness. (Spend time getting your cat used to the harness and leash inside before venturing outdoors.) If your apartment has a balcony or patio, you can let your cat enjoy the outdoors from the safety of a large wire dog crate or cat enclosure.

Window to the World

Cats love watching birds and squirrels outside. If the windows in your apartment or condo don’t have deep sills for perching, consider installing a platform for your cat next to the window, or place a tall sturdy table next to the window. (Just be sure the window is always closed—cats can scratch or pop out window screens and fall out the window.

cat being pet in kitchen
Jaromir Chalabala / EyeEm / Getty Images

So, which cats do best in an apartment or small condo? That depends on a few factors. The first is personality. The best cats for apartment living are those with adaptable temperaments. A cat that is nervous or shy might find a small apartment stressful if she doesn’t have adequate places to retreat to when company comes over. On the other end of the spectrum, a cat that is extremely outgoing and adventurous might find the limited space of an apartment or condo too boring. 

The second factor to consider is activity level. Cats that are low energy or moderate energy tend to be happier in smaller spaces than high-energy cats that want to run, climb and explore all day. This isn’t to say that a high-energy cat cannot live successfully in an apartment. If you are home a lot to play with your cat, and if you can implement many of the environmental enrichment strategies detailed above, a lively cat can thrive in a small space. 

Read on to learn about just a few cat breeds that do well living in apartments.

  • 01 of 07

    American Shorthair

    American Shorthair
    American Shorthair.

    Heikki Siltala / Creative Commons [CC BY 3.0]

    The debonair American Shorthair is an easygoing cat that loves to hang out with their people. The breed can do well in apartments as long as you are home enough to spend lots of quality time with your cat.

  • 02 of 07

    Birman

    Birman cat laying on its back

    kahvikisu / Flickr

    The sweet and gentle Birman is an affectionate lap cat that doesn’t require a ton of space. Quiet yet sociable, the Birman just wants to be anywhere you are—making the size of his home a non-issue. 

  • 03 of 07

    British Shorthair

    british shorthair cat lounging

     Carlos G. Lopez / Getty Images

    The dapper British Shorthair is an extremely adaptable cat that can thrive in an apartment. These medium to large-sized cats are pretty chill, preferring to lounge about rather than race around. 

  • 04 of 07

    Burmese

    burmese lounging on its back

    Julija Janevica / EyeEm / Getty Images

    The Burmese is affectionate and soft spoken. Although playful well into adulthood, Burmese aren’t overly active and love warm laps to cuddle up in. Described as “dog like,” the Burmese will follow you around your home, finding adventure in the daily goings-on of the household. 

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Exotic

    Exotic Shorthair
    Exotic.

    Dmitry Brant / Creative Commons [CC BY-SA 4.0]

    Exotics are the shorthaired version of the Persian cat. Like their longhaired cousins, Exotics are peaceful, calm and affectionate, preferring a warm lap or plush cushion to intense activity. Their mellow nature makes them an ideal cat for apartment dwelling. 

  • 06 of 07

    Ragdoll

    ragdoll cat sitting in apartment

    Rachel Devine / Getty Images

    The Ragdoll is the ultimate lap cat. The name is derived from the breed’s tendency to relax and go limp when being held. Ragdolls are generally low energy and can live happily in an apartment as long as you are around to cuddle. 

  • 07 of 07

    Persian

    persian cat lounging inside

    Christian Witt / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Gentle, quiet and serene, Persians understand the value of rest and relaxation. They are happy to plop down on any available soft surface and pose for your admiration. The heavy-set Persian is not too keen on climbing and jumping, making them perfect apartment pets. 

Keep in mind that all cats are individuals. Any cat of any breed or mix of breeds may or may not enjoy living in the smaller space of an apartment or condo. The amount of attention, play, engagement, and environmental enrichment you can provide your cat will play into your cat’s level of satisfaction living in an apartment or condo.