how much space does a cat need

Here’s a good question for you: How much space does a cat need? You can probably imagine that it will be more than the space required to keep an aquarium of fish, but far less than what you would need to keep a medium-sized dog happy. Or at least, that would be the logical way to try to put a sense of space requirements together.

Well, you may be a bit surprised to learn that in some cases, cats need just a little bit of room to roam. It does depend on how much space you have available where the cat will spend its life and the type of cat you have. By type, we mean if you intend to raise the cat as a strictly indoor cat, or an outdoor cat, or a mixture of both.

Each of these types of cats has different requirements and they will influence how much space is required. In this article, we will break down what your cat needs daily and the amount of space that will make those things easier on both you and your feline friend.



Although your cat will not require a large space for eating, you do have to factor in some considerations. First, there must be room for a bowl that will contain food (wet or dry), and a bowl with fresh water to drink. Now, it is easy to say that two bowls won’t require a lot of floor space, however, you have to keep the food/water dishes in a specific location.

They have to be away from any high-traffic area in your home. For example, in a hallway or at a doorway is not going to give your cat the peace it requires to enjoy a meal. The cat food dishes also cannot be near the litter box. Imagine if you had no choice but to eat all your meals in the bathroom. So how much space does a cat need for eating?

Well, you can get away with putting food dishes along a wall in the kitchen or under a table. Just ensure that there is no access to human food and your kitty will be happy to be eating meals in the space you and your family do the same.



Cats are funny about where they like to sleep. They are fond of being in tight spaces that are often higher than the floor to avoid foot traffic. More often than not, your cat will want to sleep in your bed with you. That’s fine if you don’t mind that. However, it is also a good idea to have a bed elsewhere for your cat to go to sometime during the night or just for daytime naps away from all the household activity.

This could be a quiet room away from the kitchen, den, and entertainment room, or it could be on a shelf in the bedroom. Pet stores have excellent selections of cat beds that have soft and flexible walls so they can be placed in small spaces for a cat to curl up in. The floor of a closet, an empty cubby hole in a bookshelf, or any other small space will do.

This will give your cat a safe place to hide, if needed but most importantly, a location to claim as a bed when he or she leaves your bed for the night.

Litter Box

litter box

Believe it or not, cats are a lot like their human roommates when it comes to bathroom habits. They like to do their business in private and prefer easy access to the place where they can do it. This means that a closet, a corner in your bathroom, or a floor-level cabinet that is not being used for anything else will do.

The key here is to ensure that wherever you put the litter box, it is easy for your cat to get in and out of, is easy for you to access to keep clean daily, and is not anywhere near where your cat eats. If you have a large home with two or three levels, it may be a good idea to have more than one litter box.

If your household has more than one cat, you will need to consider this when placing litter boxes. You can’t expect all the cats to use the same litter box, but you can sit two of them together nearby. The placement of litter boxes is somewhat more important than any of the other things we have already discussed here.



This is the only consideration where things are much more different for an indoor cat compared to an outdoor cat. With an outdoor cat, there are plenty of places to explore and dig or play in and around the yard and neighborhood. For an indoor cat, a specific play area should be created. It has to be separate and not near the eating, sleeping, or litter box areas that you have already designated.

Play and exercise are vitally important components of a happy cat’s life. They contribute to the mental and physical well being of your feline friend. Fortunately, the play area does not require a lot of space. You can create a play area that can be easily stowed away when you are entertaining human company.

So, how much space does a cat need to play? Not much. A box that holds various cat toys, a scratching post, and a throw rug for all of these items to sit on could do just fine. Or, if you have more room, a larger play zone would be plenty.



This is a tough one to pin down simply because a cat will choose wherever it wants to relax. Your influence will have no bearing on this situation. For example, a ray of sunshine that is projected onto the floor in the middle of the room may become a resting spot for your cat as long as it is there. The top of a couch or chair may be another place your cat chooses to rest.

If you are certain that you do not want your cat on the furniture, you will have to spend some time on behavior modification. However, for your cat to understand why you don’t want him or her resting in the clothes dryer, you have to provide obvious alternatives that your cat will find as interesting and comforting.

But for the most part, you will have to get used to your cat resting wherever it wants to. It could be in your lap, the lap of a house guest, next to the dog, under furniture, or somewhere in the way. Don’t expect this one to be easy at all because it isn’t.

Final Thoughts

How much space does a cat need? in reality, not that much. However, the locations you choose for your cat’s food dishes, bed, litter box, play toys, and spots to relax may not take up a lot of space, they each need to be spaced apart. Depending on the size of your home or apartment, you will have to determine the best locations for these things based on the square footage you have available.

Remember, whatever you do will need additional attention should you add more than one cat to the household. As you can see, cats do not require a lot of space to live long and happy lives.