First, figure out if you are allowed to have a pet in the first place.
More than the size of the apartment, the policies set by the apartment buildings...determine whether residents can get pets. The first thing to do is ask the building management about their pet policy. Note: Policies change, and sometimes buildings will be flexible for residents in good standing. So even if there was a “No pets allowed” clause when you moved in, it is worth having a conversation.
If the building doesn’t allow pets generally:
- Find out if they would consider approving an emotional support animal. Obtaining these credentials is a multi-step process, including having your doctor provide a reason why one is recommended.
- If you’ve seen people walking dogs through the building, or heard animal noises in different apartments, ask the building management if the no-pets policy applies to all residents. Maybe there are exceptions you can take advantage of.
- Offer to pay an extra pet deposit or “pet rent.” This might allay any concerns about potential damage, especially if you’re only getting a small pet.
Once you have obtained the approvals you need, then yes, there are plenty of pets who do just fine living in a small apartment. As a general rule, domestic animals that are adult-aged and well socialized make the best pets for small apartments, because they require less constant care, and ought to know how to handle themselves around human and animal neighbors.
Getting a Cat
Cats that have been brought up as indoor pets should be fine in close quarters, especially if you make sure the cat has toys, climbing structures, and a semi-private space for the cat box. Many people believe that multiple cats that have bonded (i.e., siblings from the same litter or cats that were raised together from kittenhood) can be even better suited to small spaces than a single cat. Bonded cats can keep each other company even when the humans aren’t around.
When looking for a cat, keep in mind that even though a breed might be suited for small apartment living, you may not be suited to that breed. Persians and ragdolls are adorable, fluffy breeds that people love for their poufy looks, but they must be painstakingly groomed, and even then, they’re liable to shed fur all over the floor and furniture. If you’re protective of your sleek decor, or you just don’t have the capacity to groom your pet every day, these long-haired breeds might not be right for you.
Getting a Dog
Finding the right dog for a small apartment is a trickier challenge, due to factors such as size, energy level, aggression tendencies, grooming needs, and barking level. Basically, most potential challenges of dog ownership – like making sure they get enough playtime, socializing and training them, ensuring they’re clean enough for the indoors -- are exacerbated when they share your small living space.
One of the most common misconceptions people have about dogs is that small breeds are the most natural fit for small spaces. In fact, some small breeds, such as beagles and Malteses, are also among the most vocal … in other words, they bark the most, and at high intensity. Anyone who’s lived in an apartment building with a Maltese will tell you, these dogs may be tiny in stature, but their capacity for noise pollution is immense.
Be willing to think outside the box when considering pet breeds for a small apartment. Look at large yet mellow dog breeds, as well as small and medium breeds that require only moderate exercise and socialize well with humans. If you plan to leave the dog alone in your home for extended periods of time, be even more exacting and responsible in your search. Look for a dog that is not prone to separation anxiety; or if you plan to hire a dog walker, or leave your dog at a daycare, make sure it’s a breed that socializes well with other animals.