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Can Cats Live In One Room? Everything You Need To Know!


You just went to the animal shelter and are excited about the perfect cat you adopted. You’ve bought the litter box, a 20-pound box of litter and food. Everything is prepared. Once you return home, the big question is going to be where exactly is your new fur baby is going to live. Will she have run of the house, or do you want her restricted to a room, floor, or section of the house?

So, can cats live in one room? Yes, a cat can live in one room if it’s at least eighteen square feet. Cats like what’s in a room, not necessarily the size of a room. If you have more than one cat, you will need to double the space.

Keeping a cat in one room can be a difficult decision. There are several reasons for restricting a cat. But just because they are somewhat separated from the rest of the household, doesn’t necessarily mean that your cat will be adversely affected. Below are the whys and hows of keeping a cat in one room. And maybe more importantly, should you keep a cat confined.

Why Do Some People Keep a Cat in One Room

There are several reasons why some people want to keep a cat in one room. Sometimes it’s a temporary situation, but sometimes it has to be a permanent decision. The reasons include:

  1. New CatFighting
  2. Illness
  3. Social anxiety
  4. Containment

1.New Cat

Introducing a new cat to the group can sometimes be traumatic. Place the newcomer in her own room. Make sure she has everything she needs, including her own:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Kitty litter
  • Toys

A confined area will give the new cat a safe zone. This safe zone will allow the newbie to familiarize herself with the smells and sounds of the house. It will also give the current pets a chance to acclimate to a new friend. Make sure the door is securely closed. Sniffing under the door or a game of footsie is acceptable and desired. Separation usually takes between two to three days.

2. Fighting

Sometimes cats just don’t get along. This can be due to a lack of socialization at an early age. But regardless, you have to deal with it immediately. There are times that you must separate them. Placing them in different rooms is the safest and sanest way to deal with a volatile situation. There may come a time, with proper training techniques, this can change. Or ultimately, you might have cats permanently living in different rooms.

3. Illness

If you have a sick kitty and other pets, it’s important to keep them separated. Animals, by nature, can be aggressive toward a sick animal. You don’t want your ill cat under any more stress than it already is. Your sick cat will probably want solitude, anyway, so keeping her in a room by herself is the ticket to recovery.

Illness works both ways. You might have a human in the house who discovers they have cat allergies or other respiratory problems aggravated by the cat’s presence. If you don’t want to find your kitty a new home, you may have to confine her to a room.

4. Social Anxiety

Some animals, including cats, are so riddled with anxiety problems that they don’t want to be part of the household. They’re afraid of everything. These cats feel safer and more secure, confined to a small private area. Let them have their space. But don’t forget to give them plenty of love.

5. Containment

Some people want a cat but don’t want it to have access to the whole house or apartment. Right or wrong, they may have various reasons, including:

  • Don’t want furniture scratched
  • Breakable valuables
  • Don’t want cat hair all over the house
  • Don’t want the cat to spray around the house

How to Keep a Cat in One Room

Animal shelters often keep groups of cats in one room. The theory is it’s better than separate cages and easier for adopters to see all the cats. They may have eight to ten cats in one room. The good shelters are meticulous about cleaning standards. Employees and volunteers mop floors and clean kitty litter daily. If you are planning on keeping a cat in one room, you’ll need to be just as particular about how clean you keep it.  

Change the litter box once or twice a day. Cats like to go in a clean area, or they’ll find a new one. If you don’t want the room to smell like a sewer, keep the box clean. Sweep up any litter that is dragged throughout the room. And make sure all bedding is cleaned periodically.

Since you don’t have a lot of square footage, go vertical. Cats love to be up high. It goes back centuries when they hung out in trees. They like to be high in order to:

  • Keep an eye on their territory
  • Feel safe
  • See who’s entering their kingdom
  • Find any prey (even if it’s a stuffed mouse)

Place trees and shelves around the room, so they have different options. Running up a cat tree is also good exercise when there’s not enough floor space to run around.

Provide fun activities. Let’s face it, even if there’s a window; boredom can set in. Have plenty of toys around to bat at. You need to take part in the fun as well. Play string or throw a ping pong ball around—anything to keep your kitty active and stimulated.

Provide furniture or, if not furniture, boxes to hide in. Cats don’t like wide-open areas. They like shelter to both hide in and sleep in.

Should You Keep a Cat in One Room?

If you plan on adopting a cat and keeping it in one room, separate from the rest of the household, you probably shouldn’t be adopting. Many cat enthusiasts feel that it’s a bad idea and, in some ways, downright cruel.

Cats need room to move and time to socialize. Although cats have a reputation for being solitary animals, they, in fact, like the stimulation that comes with human companionship. That stimulation is limited when they are kept away from the household.

A cat left alone for extended periods of time in one room could develop some mental problems. It survives but feels tormented. It can have feelings of:

  • Loneliness
  • Anxiety
  • Fear

 And if the room is empty, it’s even worse. A wide-open area can cause extreme fear.

What About Keeping A Cat In A One-Bedroom Apartment?

The question really is, does a one-bedroom apartment have enough space. This is a lot different than locking a cat in her own room. You’re in the room with her. She’ll learn your routine and enjoy your company. Having a part in the daily household activities should provide enough stimulation.

Keep an enclosed kitty litter and clean it at least once a day. Serve your cat quality food. Not only is it better for your cat, but it will keep down the odor in the litter box. If you have room, purchase, or make a cat tree. Better yet, place a stool or shelf in front of the window. Your cat will be up high and can watch the birds and the world going by.

Final Thoughts

Keeping a cat isolated in one room is not the best scenario for either the cat or you. What’s the point of having a cat if you don’t enjoy it? But if there are extenuating circumstances, you may have no choice. Make the best of it and provide your fur baby with the love and stimulation that she needs and wants.

If you live in a one-bedroom apartment, don’t worry, less square footage doesn’t mean less love.

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