Living With Pets in Small Spaces

Imagine for a moment: It’s early. You’re tired. You’re trying to make it through the morning and get off to work. It’s not fun, but it would be a lot easier if THE CAT WOULD JUST GET OUT FROM UNDER YOUR FEET. EW, WHAT’S THAT SMELL? DIRTY LITTER BOX, NOOOOOOOOOOO!

This is what a lot of people think life with a pet in a small home or apartment is like. In fact, many animal lovers in smaller dwellings assume they can’t be a successful pet owner until they get a bigger place. But the truth is, you and a pet can cohabitate cozily in a smaller space quite easily. Ready to find out how? Check out these suggestions on how to make it work.

First things first: Be realistic

Really take the time to think about your living situation before bringing a pet into the mix. While it may seem like common sense not to get into a bull-in-the-china-shop situation, here are some other things to consider. For example:

  • Are the other residents of your home (kids included) ready to share pet responsibilities?
  • Will it be a hassle to take a dog outside to potty?
  • Is the neighborhood friendly for walking the dog? Do you know where the local dog parks are?
  • Are affordable pet sitting and dog walking options available in your area?
  • Do you actually have enough space for a pet?

Don’t assume that your pet has to be small enough to fit in your purse to be a great small space companion – check out these breeds suited for apartment living, such as English bulldogs, greyhounds and Shiba Inus.

Invest in a good vacuum and air purifier

We’ve all been to that home where the pet smell hits you like a wall and everything (including the resident human) is covered in a layer of fur. Not pleasant. Avoid being ostracized by updating your cleaning regimen and investing in a quality vacuum and air purifier.

Regularly clean the litter box

Cleaning out a litter box is by no means a glamorous task, but it becomes even more important to make your peace with it in a smaller space. Regularly clean out and change the litter in your kitty’s litter box to get rid of any lingering smells and to avoid inappropriate elimination. (And remember: by the time you smell it, poor kitty is probably miserable.)

Keep your pet active

Bored pet + small space = big trouble! If your dog or cat is rooting around in the trash, knocking things over and generally being a pain in your behind, they’re probably trying to say “I’m bored!” When your pets are limited to an indoor existence while you’re at work, it becomes even more important to make time for playing, walking and entertaining. (Don’t be fooled by the lazy routine, either – even the couch potato pet appreciates exercise.)

Related: How much exercise does your pet need?

Consider daycare or a pet sitter

Pet daycare or pet sitters can be great resources every day, not just when you’re enjoying faraway lands. If your pet is noisy during the day, that’s a good clue that they need some more attention and interaction – a perfect task for a dog walker, pet sitter or doggie daycare.

Buy pet toys that you’re not ashamed of

It’s a chic space and you’re proud of it! Don’t let the eyesore of ugly pet toys ruin your style. Consider shopping for toys that are fun for humans to look at, too.

Create a space specifically for your pet

If you ever feel the need for some space, you know what a luxury it can be. Unlike you, your pup can’t pop down to the coffee shop for some alone time away from the other creatures in the house. Create a space in your apartment that is just for your pet. Keep some of their favorite toys and a comfy blanket or bed in a low-traffic area of the home. It can be tough to consider giving up that space, but the home may actually feel bigger if you and your pet have your own places to chill.


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The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.


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