A cat for a small apartment? Discussion 2023.

by Marilyn Leisure (Ashland, Ohio USA)

I would like to adopt a teacup cat. I am a grandma, living alone in an apartment building for elderly. I would like to have a teacup cat to keep me company. I think this size cat would be perfect for me as I have a small apartment. Are these cats expensive? Is there a place that I could adopt one that would not charge a lot of money?


Small apartment living for a cat
Small apartment living for a cat. Image: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

ANSWER: Hi Marilyn and thanks for asking… I’ll attempt to answer your question on the basis that you are looking for a cat for a small apartment (a wider subject). Note: this was written about 15 years ago. The page has been updated. It remains a very relevant topic perhaps more so today in 2023.

More about the caregiver than the cat

Having considered the question it is clear to me that the answer is more about the caregiver than the cat. How much time is dedicated to interactions and play and what is the quality of those interactions in stimulating the cat and making their lives as natural an enjoyable as possible? The smaller the environment, the harder it is to make it natural and acceptable to a domestic cat. But if the owner is there all the time, they can dedicate their time to cat caregiving.

I don’t believe that a person working full-time away from a small apartment from 8 am to 7 pm is suitable. Nowhere near. It would be very unfair on the cat to be stuck in a one bed apartment all day without companionship and no chance to act naturally. They’d just snooze all day but be stressed. The caregiver has to be retired in my view. It is about standards.

Miniature or teacup cats – USA

Teacup cat
Teacup cat by Pocket Kittys

Breeders of teacup cats are rare as far as I can see and they are more or less only available in the USA (someone will correct me on that, I am sure!). UPDATE 2023: Although in 2023 you will rarely find some small domestic cats available for adoption, Pocket Kittys which bred miniature cats is no longer functioning. The lady has retained her website to provide advice. There was a time, about 12 years ago when there was some interest in miniature, teacup cats, but it has faded probably because of potential health issues. The breeder said she stopped because she was disappointed with her clients.

Teacup Persian cat
Teacup Persian. Photo: Pocket Kittys.

Pocket sized cats are almost always Persian cats as it seems that a mutation occurred in purebred breeding of these cats that produced a smaller cat. These smaller cats have formed the foundation for teacup cats and the breeding of them is relatively recent (in contrast to the dog world where miniature dogs have been around for a long time)- hence their scarcity.

I feature a teacup cup breeder (Pocket Kittys) on the page where this article will be published so I would contact them first and ask. I really think that the lady who runs Pocket Kittys will provide you with good and realistic advice.

By my standards they are expensive. I think the prices are similar to those of high quality purebred cats in the USA meaning from say about $1000 upwards depending on the type of cat you are buying.

I am sure you have read the information on the Pocket Kitty’s website. There is a link at the top of the teacup cats page to this site. And she provides some useful warnings about dealing with people running scams asking for money to be sent through escrow services or Western union. Watch for those.

Small cat more suited to small apartment?

A question that interests me (and the reason why I changed the title – hope you don’t mind), is whether a small cat is any better than a normal sized cat in a small apartment.

I am not sure it is as it might be that the defining criterion is not size but levels of activity. What I am saying is that the most suitable type of cat for a small apartment (and therefore a full-time indoor cat) is a passive cat that is “part of the furniture” and which has low levels of inquisitiveness etc.

I really believe that if a cat is to be kept indoors in a small apartment it needs to be mentally adapted as well as possible to that type of lifestyle, which to be totally honest is unnatural. This is more important I feel than the size of the cat.

Traditional Persian Mueggelbergen’s Irfan, Shell Golden – photo by Dani

Such a cat is the Persian and they are cheaper and you are likely to be able to find one in a rescue center. If you go this route, I would adopt the traditional Persian as they are healthier and you clearly don’t want to go to a vet more than you have to (they can be a bit greedy).

In fact, you may be lucky and find a smaller than average Persian cat that is not a teacup cat but fits the bill.

So, in my view (and it is only my view) a small cat for a small apartment may not be the complete answer. Although I see the logic.

Other breeds and moggies

I have selected one breed, the Persian, as a possible full-time, indoor, apartment cat. There are other potential breeds such as the British Shorthair or American SH to name two. Also, there will be individual cats with a temperament more suited to small apartment living (see below).

British Shorthair - an indoor cat
British Shorthair – an indoor cat. This is blue Brit SH. Image: Pinterest.

Elderly cat suits elderly care caregiver

Bearing in mind that Marilyn is retired and probably elderly, it might make sense to adopt an elderly rescue cat. They are less active and less demanding in terms of the need to mentally stimulate. And there is a nice symmetry between elderly cat owners and elderly cats. It also means that the owner won’t die before the cat leaving the problem of rehoming which is problematic for the cat and executor to the will of the deceased.

Cat caregiving

Marilyn, the lady who asked the question about miniature cats is retired. She has lots of time to entertain her cat. That seems to me to be more important than anything else in making a success of a cat living in a small apartment. Plenty of play and human-to-cat interactions will lessen the problem of stimulating an apartment cat of whatever size,

I hope this helps. A cat can be a great companion to elderly people and the lifestyle of elderly people allows them the time to better care for their cat.

I am thinking of a cat rescue center in the UK who more or less insist on re-homing with older people. I made a page about Persian cat rescue in the USA, which may help.

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A Cat for a Small Apartment

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Dec 05, 2009
Teacup Cats
by: Lisa James


Michael is partially right. About the only people unscrupulously breeding such cats are unfortunately here in the US, where they can take cats that are smaller than the breed standard, & selectively breed them to other smaller cats, keeping only the smallest kittens. It’s not a question of a genetic mutation, it’s generations of breeding selecting only for size, often through inbreeding, which makes the genetics pretty sad, & the cats unhealthy anyway. Personally, I would avoid these scam artists like the plague.

If you are looking for a NATURALLY occurring small breed of cat, try looking into the Singapura. They are absolutely charming, & being shorthaired, they are easy care.

However, I will agree with Michael & say that it’s not really the size of the apartment that counts, it’s the personality & temperament of the particular cat. Go to your local shelters & look for an adult cat with a quiet, dignified persona, not a kitten to 3-year-old adult who will be pinging off the walls & destroying things because it doesn’t have enough space to run & romp. An older cat is going to be well past the kitten stage, & will be happy to curl up on the sofa or the bed, & wait for you to come home.

Ultimately though, you have to think about the living space in your apartment, & by small I’m presuming it’s a studio, because that’s the smallest sized apartment available. I lived in one with my husband until our 2 bedroom was finished & available before my now 19 yr old son was born, & we had an active & very energetic American Eskimo puppy in that studio! It depends on your activity level as well, & how much grooming you want or are able to do with your schedule whether a long-haired cat or a short haired cat will be the best match for you.

Dec 05, 2009
Cats Character
by: Michael

Hi Finn… thanks for the point you make. I had not mentioned that. A Persian or British Shorthair are good breeds for the role but as you say within those breeds there will be individual cats who are more suited to apartment living.

So it seems the search should be within these breeds and then for a cat with a suitable character.

Often rescue centres know the character of their cats and cat direct people.

Of course, it must be said that there are many individual cats amongst mixed breed cats that are also more suited to this sort of life.

Dec 05, 2009
It is temperament that matters
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

I agree with Michael – it is temperament that matters. The size of your cat does not have to be determined by the size of your living space, because most cat breeds are basicly within the same size frame – whereas e.g. dog breeds are ranging from “rat” to “pony”. 😉
Instead you should look for a cat with a suitable temperament. Michael has already recommended the traditional Persian, which I too believe would be a good choice if you’re looking for a cute looking cat – and has the time for grooming it.
Another breed that comes to mind is British Shorthair. If you read what Wikipedia says on the Brit’s temperament, it seems the ideal cat for living in an appartment – and I don’t think that’s very much overstated.
But remember that the breed never guarantees a particular temperament – and even kittens from the same litter will differ a lot. Kittens are playful, so it’s not that easy to judge the temperament, but my advice is to look for one that really enjoys being cuddled – and maybe is a little less active than the others.
Or you could adopt a grown cat with a fully developed personality. Last year we found a wonderfull cat that way – affectionate and well behaved in all ways as described in ‘Don’t Forget the Elderly Shelter Cats’.

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