woman holding a dog on an apartment balcony at sunset

Apartment Living With Pets

Just because you live in an apartment or need to move into a smaller space doesn’t mean you can’t have a happy four-legged roomie. Pets are super flexible and can make do in any kind of space.

First Things First

Before you adopt a pet or sign a lease on a new apartment or condo for you and a furball friend, you’re going to want to know the rules.

Are there restrictions on the kind or size of pets that are allowed? Is there an extra charge for having a pet? Can pets be in communal areas, like the laundry room? Do you need to provide a health certificate or proof of vaccinations from your veterinarian?

Be upfront with your landlord or homeowner’s association about having or getting a pet. Sure, you may be able to sneak a pet in, but they may find out later. You should also follow their pet policies carefully to help avoid any issues.

Fun Fact

Apartments charge pet rent because pets can cause extra wear and tear in an apartment and shared areas, like the lobby. Pet rent helps cover those costs.

Best Apartment Roomies

Here are a few things to mull over as you think through what kind of cat or dog you want to welcome into your apartment.

What Size Is Right?

Most cats are small to medium in size except maybe for Maine Coons, who can grow up to 25 pounds or more. So, there’s not too much to worry about as far as size if you want to adopt a feline friend. Dogs, on the other hand, range pretty widely from tiny teacup pups to towering Great Danes.

You might think that a small dog is the best choice for a smallish apartment. But some little dogs like Chihuahuas and Terriers can be noisy, energetic, and a tad high-strung. They may bark at every sound they hear in the hallway. This can lead to unhappy neighbors who are tired of listening to all that yapping through the walls.

Large dogs who love to chill out, like retired racing Greyhounds or an older English Mastiff, can be a good fit for apartment living. These big oafs may prefer to take up the same spot on the couch as they snooze the day away.

If you want a medium or larger sized dog that needs a lot of exercise, like a Labrador or Border Collie, it’s certainly doable. Just be ready to go for long daily walks and take frequent trips to places where they can burn off energy, like dog parks or hiking trails.

Did you know?

You can use a dog DNA test to find out or confirm your dog’s breed make-up.

Who’s Your Purrfect Match?

Do you want a cuddly cat who will curl up in your lap while you read? Or one who cracks you up chasing toy mice around the room? Are you looking for a dog to be your sidekick on outdoor adventures? Or a pooch who’d rather cozy up next to you while you binge Netflix on the couch?

Like any relationship, it can be tough to tell what you’re getting into exactly with a pet until you spend some real time together. But it can help to know what you want and do some breed research to find out what you might expect. Just keep in mind that pets are unique individuals shaped by factors like how they were treated in the past. You can’t judge a pet solely by their breed.

If you’re adopting from a shelter, you can get a lot of great information from the employees and volunteers who work there. They have experience with the pets, which can help them pair you up with your fur-ever friend.

Pet Etiquette Tips for Apartment Living

To be a good pet-owning neighbor, be mindful of others. Don’t assume they’ll fall for your pet right off the bat.

Pets can make some people feel anxious until they get to know them. They can also be frightening to young kids who aren’t used to furry things with four legs and lots of energy. Plus, some folks have pet allergies and may need to avoid touching or being near them.

If your dog wants to greet someone in the hallway, hold your pooch back and ask that person if it’s OK first. You should also follow good elevator etiquette. Wait to step into the elevator with your dog until you check with the current riders. If there’s another dog in the elevator, you may want to wait for the next one to avoid risking a scuffle in a tight space.

When you live in an apartment, it’s especially important to address pet behavior issues quickly. If your pet starts showing an unwanted behavior, such as constant barking or marking their territory, talk to your veterinarian. They can help you figure out what might be causing the behavior and offer suggestions to stop it.

Quick Tip

Leave a lint roller by your door for visitors. They’ll appreciate being able to clean off any stray pet hairs before they head out.

How to Keep Your Apartment From Smelling Like a Cat

You don’t want the smell of your cat to be the first thing your visitors notice when they walk into your apartment. Air fresheners can help cover up the scent, but the best approach is to stay on top of your cat’s litterbox. Scoop it out once or twice a day and clean the whole thing out as often as needed.

If your cat is marking their territory with a pungent smell, give your veterinarian a call for some advice. Your cat could be marking out of stress, or they may have a health condition, like a urinary tract infection. Your veterinarian can help you get to the bottom of the issue.

Bathroom Solutions for Apartment Dogs

When you live in an apartment, it’s not as easy as opening the back door and letting your dog do their business in your fenced in yard. Plan to get your dog outside when you first notice the signs they need to go. If you make them hold it while you finish checking your phone, they may not make it outside in time, particularly if getting outside means waiting for the elevator.

There are indoor potty solutions for dogs, such as fake grass pads, which you can set up in a corner or outside on a patio if you have one. Just keep in mind that they can confuse your pup. Bathmats and carpets can have a similar feel, so you may have some cleanups in your future if you go this route.

maltese resting on a gray couch in a small apartment

Cat and Dog Apartment Hacks

These hacks can help make life with your pet in an apartment more enjoyable.

Make Use of Vertical Space for Cats

Don’t have a lot of room in your apartment? Make more space for your cat by going up. For instance, you can install cat shelves for your feline to perch on or a window seat where they can safely watch the outside world. Cats prefer seeing the world in three dimensions, so yours will love the ability to climb up and take everything in from a high vantage point.

Mask Pet Noises

You can use a white noise machine, or classical music played at a low volume to help cover up pet noises, such as meowing, barking, and the scratch of nails. The gentle hum of the machine or relaxing tunes may help calm your pet, so they’ll stay quieter in the first place.

Invest in a Hidden Litterbox

Did you know you can buy cat litterboxes that look like end tables or other pieces of furniture? This can be a great solution when you don’t have much room or a good spot for the litterbox. Sometimes a closet or cabinet will do if you’re able to give your cat free access to it.

Set up Two-Way Video

Two-way video lets you check in on your pet while you’re out of the house, so they’ll feel less alone and hopefully stay quieter. Some of these gadgets let you toss your pet treats or play games using an app on your phone. They can also alert you when your pet is being loud, so you jump on the video and try to address the situation.

Turn Your Balcony Into a Pet Haven

If your apartment has a balcony or patio, set it up so it’s safe and fun for your pet to enjoy too. Give them a nice place to curl up in the sun, like a pet bed or soft blanket, and have a few toys out there ready to go. Just be sure the area is safe for your pet. For instance, make sure your pet can’t slip through the bars or go over them and fall.

And of course, shower your four-legged roomie with lots of love and attention every day! That’s truly the best way to help keep them happy.