It’s safe to say that we humans love our furry companions. Nothing completes a home quite like having a furry friend to come home to at the end of a busy day. But if you’re searching around for the best low-maintenance pets while renting, it’s no surprise that cats rank as one of the most popular choices for apartment living.
But new renters and even fellow cat parents might be wondering, what are the best cats for apartments? Which traits make them paw-fect for small space living? While cute and loveable, it’s easy to assume that any and every breed will flourish in an apartment and adapt to your lifestyle. However, if you’re a city dweller renting an apartment in New York and looking for a cat to keep you company, or you’re planning on downsizing from a house to a condo, you may find that not all cats are as suited to life in a smaller abode as others. So which one should you choose?
To answer these questions so that you can be both a conscientious cat parent and tenant, we teamed up with the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats with 46 breeds recognized, to bring you 10 of the best cat breeds for apartments. If you’re interested in adding a feline roommate to your apartment, read on to determine which one might be suitable for you.
1) Maine Coon Cat
By far the biggest cat on this list, with some even reaching up to 35 pounds, the sweet and cuddly Maine Coon Cat is among the best cat breeds for apartment living. But don’t let their size scare you. While they’re dubbed as the “gentle giants” of the cat world, Maine Coons are well-known for their gentle and tolerant nature, making them ideal for lone apartment dwellers to even families with small children.
“Maine Coons love being with their people and are very laidback,” says Teresa Keiger, CFA Allbreed Judge, editor of “Cat Talk” magazine, and who has lived with and shown several cat breeds. However, be prepared for extra maintenance to keep these kitties looking their best. She recommends a good comb out every week (and maybe some other combings in between).
Looking for a sweet, docile cuddle bug? Look no further than the Persian. “While Persians also require combing out to maintain their beautiful coats and a daily wiping of their eyes and faces, they’re truly an easy cat to live with,” says Keiger. “These cats want nothing more than to be the center of your world.” Not only that, Persians don’t require vigorous exercise outside a daily play session or two, so if you’re living in a smaller home or studio, these cats are perfect for you.
But if you love the look of a Persian cat, but aren’t sure about the grooming aspect, consider an Exotic instead. “Breeders hybridized the Persian with an American Shorthair to give them a plush, short coat. They still require grooming to keep that coat in top shape, but it’s much shorter than a Persian,” Keiger adds.
If a cat with a puppy-like personality piques your interest, the Ragdoll is the cat for you. Not only do these cats resemble little teddy bears with their bright blue eyes, irresistible smiley faces, and silky coats, but they’re also known for their dog-like devotion to their humans. With their relaxed and loveable character, Ragdolls make incredible family cats and will tail their humans like a fluffy shadow.
While Ragdolls have a lot of love to give, be prepared to provide a lot of love in return. These cats prefer a set routine and don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time. But with some daily play sessions and extra cuddle time, these adaptable kitties can thrive in any environment. At any rate, if you want an extra affectionate lap cat, the Ragdoll makes for one of the best cats for apartments.
4) Russian Blue
Affectionate without being clingy, this independent breed wants nothing more than to have a quiet night in with their favorite human. “Russian Blues are true homebodies. They usually want to be inside and love to spend time with their family. These cats tend to be shy around strangers until they get to know them, but they’re extremely bright and intelligent. However, contrary to what one has read on the internet, the Russian Blue is not hypoallergenic, and really no cat can truly be considered hypoallergenic.”
Russian Blue cats are also moderately active, so it’s worth investing in a cat tree and interactive toys in your apartment to keep them occupied.
5) Scottish Fold
Known for its distinctive folded ears that lie close to the head, the Scottish Fold is a mellow, easygoing, and affectionate breed that adapts well to any environment. While they don’t need too much room to be happy as long as they’re by their favorite people, be sure to have plenty of toys in your space for stimulation. “Scottish Folds come in both longhair and shorthair varieties, both having a thick coat,” says Keiger. “The Fold also has a non-folded variety, but they both have the same personality.”
Fun fact: Scottish folds are a spontaneous mutation. The breed used to develop them is the British Shorthair, which explains their similar personalities.
6) American Shorthair
Taking the 8th spot out of the CFA’s top 10 most popular cat breeds in 2021, it’s easy to see why the American Shorthair is also considered one of the best cats for apartments. “American Shorthairs are so easy to live with,” says Keiger. “Not much bothers them, and they’re good with other animals and children.”
While these family-oriented felines can be active, they’re also more than happy to sit down on the sofa to watch the game with you, making them ideal for apartment living or small spaces. Plus, since they’re less chatty than other breeds, your neighbors won’t even notice that they’re there.
If your ideal day consists of lounging around your apartment, the Birman is for you. The quintessential lap cat, Birmans love nothing more than a good cuddle with their favorite humans, so space is a nonissue.
“Sweet and loving, Birmans enjoy people with their people,” says Keiger. “Plus, they have a unique coat with only guard hairs and no undercoat, making them resistant to matting. Just a simple comb through, and they’re good to go.” These clingy felines also have a playful streak and are highly intelligent, so keep plenty of toys around your space so they can entertain themselves.
The Burmese cat is another highly affectionate and social breed that “loves being around their people,” says Keiger. Like the Ragdoll, the Burmese possess loveable dog-like characteristics that are able to win over the most steadfast dog lover. So if you’re planning on renting an apartment with your partner but can’t decide if you want a cat or a dog, the Burmese is the cat for you. That said, while they don’t bark, these cats are known to be very chatty and often have something to say about whatever is going on. Burmese cats are also extremely intelligent and can even be taught tricks and play fetch.
Medium-sized and compact, the Burmese cat is well-suited to apartment life with some interactive puzzle toys and consistent attention to provide plenty of physical and mental stimulation.
There’s nothing more iconic than the hairless appearance of the Sphynx. While you won’t find fur balls lurking in every corner of your apartment, these playful felines make up for their lack of hair with high energy. “No hair doesn’t mean that there’s no grooming. Because they have no hair to absorb their skin’s natural oils, they should be wiped down with a baby wipe every few days,” Keiger advises.
Though they may be small, ranging from 6 to 12 pounds, these pint-sized balls of energy enjoy climbing and exploring different surfaces and levels. With a couple of wall-mounted cat shelves and a good cat tree, any apartment space can become a great place for them to stretch their legs.
10) British Shorthair
Great Britain’s oldest cat breed is gaining a new reputation as one of the best cats for apartments. Affectionate without being clingy, playful yet not high energy, these quiet, sweet-natured cats are ideal for apartment living and small houses since they don’t require huge amounts of space to be happy.
And if you’re renting an apartment with small children, British Shorthairs are known for their easygoing personalities and are good with children. “The British Shorthair also has the densest coat of all of our breeds, adds Keiger. “It can be so plush that you can put your hand in it and not leave a mark.”
Which cat breed should you pick?
At the end of the day, there’s more to choosing a cat than their breed or the size of your apartment. Because they’re generally known to take up less space and be more independent, it’s easy to assume that any and every cat will adapt to our lifestyles and be compatible living in close quarters. While most cats are fine without the extra room to roam around, this doesn’t mean that the same can be assumed for all breeds. “As far as breeds not ideally suited to apartment life, there’s no such thing as “bad” cats. Some breeds will simply fare better in a larger home,” says Keiger.
She adds: “Many breeds are very active and athletic and need room to run and exercise. The CFA also recognizes that all cats are safer indoors.”
Regardless of the cat you choose, be sure to educate yourself on the breed’s proper care and health demands. There’s no reason why people who live in apartments can’t enjoy the companionship of these loveable animals. Pay attention to a cat’s health and needs, and you’ll have a furry friend for life.