How Much Space do Cats Need?

How Much Space Do Cats Need?

Your cat is like a little lion.

They have their plains that they roam every single day (your home), and a Pride Rock-equivalent (their cat condo) that they retire to for sleep.

But how much room does your feline friend actually need to get around and feel comfortable in their surroundings?

How much space do cats need?

Not as much as you think, but there are variables to consider. If they have vertical spaces, if they live with other cats, or if they’re an indoor/outdoor fuzzball who can come and go as they please. It all depends, so read more to find out what you should do about your current space.

So, How Much Space do Your Cats Need?

Cat On Branch

Not nearly as much as you’d think.

The beautiful thing about cats is that they only get so big, so they’re not physically taking up any more room than your duffel bag or laundry basket.

For one cat, you should have about 325 square feet of living space. This accounts for your needs, as well as everything your cat is going to need.

It’s true: cats love curling up in small spaces.

My cats curl up in the back of the top shelf in my closet (and get hair all over my jackets at the same time), on windowsills where it looks like they should be falling down, or even on top of the kitchen cabinets just because it’s a cramped, cozy space.

So what about that 325 square feet? Well, it accounts for a few things, which we’ll get into now:

Living Space

Cats aren’t exactly social creatures. You’ve seen enough internet memes and watched enough videos to know that a cat can just spend two minutes with you, and then be done with human interaction for the day.

That’s all it takes. They don’t require a lot of living space to be happy, but you want to ensure that they have enough room.

They need space to walk besides you from room to room so you don’t accidentally step on them or trip over them, and a dedicated spot like a cat condo so that they can be away from people when you have guests and family over, if they so choose to be.

Separate Eating Area

Cat Feeding

If your home or apartment is small enough that you have to place the food and water dishes even within viewing distance of the litter box, then it might be too small for cats.

Cats are very clean creatures: they clean themselves, they wipe their paws on mats you leave outside of the litter box, and generally enjoy being well kept.

Cats have sensitive noses, and keeping the place where they pee within a short distance of where they eat isn’t a comfortable thing.

That would be like having a toilet on the other end of your dining table where you eat every night.

Rowdy Time

While cats can spend hours napping, they’re very active at night. Kittens are active throughout the day as they learn to play rough, whether alone or with another.

They need a small area to bat a toy around, and just run around the house.

If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night to your cat skidding across the kitchen floor and batting that jangly toy around, then you know what I’m talking about.

As long as they have enough floor space to be able to do this, then that’s okay. You won’t need to upgrade to much more space for multiples since they will likely play together.

What About Multiple Cats?

Cats Resting

If your cats get along well, then you only really need to accommodate for an additional ten to twenty-five square feet of space, strictly for extra litter boxes, bowls, and perhaps another cat condo if the space allows for it.

If your cats get along, you might notice that they’re already spending a lot of time together.

They may sit near one another or play fight, whether it’s to keep warm during the winter or just because they’re comfortable with one another.

Because cats love curling up in small spaces, you might even find that one little shack-like box in your cat condo stores both of them, and they’re quite comfortable. Cats aren’t claustrophobic by nature.

However, if your cats don’t get along with each other… you’re going to need a lot more space.

When two cats don’t get along with one another, usually one of them is the instigator, or the alpha to the other cat. They will initiate the fights more than the other one.

Your goal is to have enough space that the alpha kitty (that sounds funny just typing it out) doesn’t feel the need to encroach on all the territory.

They don’t need to corner all the toys, control the entire cat condo, or fight when it’s feeding time.

This might mean that you need to get two water dishes, two litter boxes (which is recommended by the ASPCA anyway), and maybe even two cat condos.

If you’re going the DIY route and you already know that your cats aren’t getting along well, you might want to consider building two smaller cat condos to give each of them their space.

Vertical Space Matters

Cat On Shelf

If you’ve gotten the vibe that I’m really all-for cat condos and trees, then you’d be right.

Your cats are agile, nimble creatures who enjoy climbing. You can probably think of a handful of times you’ve seen them climbing on something they’re not supposed to in the last week alone.

They need space to move around. A vertical cat condo that goes up to the ceiling gives them the opportunities to:

  • Climb on a Space Without Being Scolded: We tell them to get off the stove, away from the sink, and down from the closet. Well, they don’t want to, so they can use cat condos as a safe space to climb where we won’t bother them or usher them away. This takes care of climbing, and the innate need of cats to sit from somewhere up high and look down at us like gods.
  • Make Use of a Small Space: You don’t have to feel bad about your small apartment, just think up, not out! Even though cats don’t need much space to be happy and roam around, you’re giving them what they need regardless of your living conditions.
  • Choose When to be Social: Sometimes cats just want to chill and nap and be alone. Who are we to judge? It’s easy to overthink things as a pet owner, but your cat doesn’t need more space, they just need the right space. Consider a cat condo with two or more areas for them to hide in.

Differences Between Male and Female Cats

Cats Sleeping Together

On average, male cats can be more domineering and aggressive than female cats, but this isn’t always the case.

This is a small, almost negligible amount of males.

You’re actually more likely to see distinct personality differences, and therefore aggression patterns, in different breeds of cats. Breed will influence behavior more than sex.

They Need Land to Roam

Your cat needs a bit of space to roam around, and a house with two friendly cats doesn’t need too much of an upgrade.

Still, your cats don’t want confined, cramped spaces, especially if they’re indoor-only cats.

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