How to Keep your Pet Happy in a Small Apartment

While living in a small space gives you the advantage of not having to keep a garden or lawn, it can be compromising to keep a pet, such as a cat or a dog.  It is why learning how to keep your pet happy and healthy in a small apartment makes all the difference.  So in order to keep your furry friend happy, healthy and contented, you should keep reading this guide on the basics of choosing a pet, types of furniture (materials) to choose and houseplants with which to decorate your space, and more.

Most Common Pets Kept in Apartments

cats and dogs

Which pets tend to do best and are most welcome in a small apartment?  Cats and dogs rule!  The American Pet Association reveals that 94.2 million cats and 89.7 million dogs reside in the US alone.

Cats are perfect small apartment living pets because they can live happily indoors, provided their given enough exercise and play activities.  They don’t need to be walked outside, too.

Dogs, on the other hand, can also live well in a limited space. Small breeds like the Shih Tzu, Pug, Chihuahua, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Yorkshire Terriers and larger ones including Greyhounds and Great Danes are also good for apartments. But then, dogs still need to get outside regularly to stretch their legs and play, exercise and de-stress (by socializing with other animals). You can also keep them happier by regularly walking them in a park for mental de-stressing.

*Research the pet and know his specific needs.

Answer a few questions:

  • How large will he grow?
  • How much activity does he need?
  • What does he eat?
  • What type of habitat can make him happy and healthy?
  • Is he an aggressive type?
  • How long will he live?
  • Are pets allowed in my condominium/apartment?

What Furniture to Choose When You Have Pets

pet furniture

Ensure that furniture is pet-friendly as much as possible. Choose fabric material that will make it easy for you to see and remove dog/cat hair.

Furniture with synthetic fiber is a great choice because it is easy to care for and virtually dirt-resistant. It also does not catch pet hair because it is tightly-woven. Con: A few types absorb odor.

Chenille is both textured and soft, so it is also a common upholstery option. On the downside, pet nails and claws can easily unravel its finish.

For the color, find a matching upholstery shade with your pet’s fur tone/color so that you don’t need to clean the shed hair constantly. It is okay if it is not the exact match provided you get dark shades for dark fur and light shade for light fur.

Cats and dogs, in particular, tend to scratch surface.  Loose, cheap covers are ideal to prevent your pet from scratching the actual sofa. And once you’ve trained him to keep away from it, you can throw the covers away.

Another practical material choice is leather. It’s easy to maintain and clean and does not hold odors.  But while leather stands up the most, your pet can leave holes in its surface if he uses it as a scratching post.

Don’t choose classical baroque interior that has many ornate wooden inserts, bizarre armrests and delicate legs. They’re hard to keep with pets around. 5

What Plants To Avoid If You Have a Dog Or a Cat

You also have to select houseplants when keeping a pet in an apartment. A few types are poisonous and should be kept away pets.  Some of them include the following,

  • Azalea
  • Lilies
  • Autumn Crocus
  • Cyclamen
  • Kalanchoe
  • Sago Palm
  • Daffodils
  • Oleander
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Tulips
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Hyacinths


what plants to avoid when having a pet

This list does not comprise all poisonous houseplants for pets, but it’s a great start for information when decorating your apartment with plants. Now if you suspect he has ingested the leaves or any parts these plants, take him to your vet or contact a pet poison center.

Why Pet-Proofing Your Home Is Essential

Medicines for heart conditions, ADHD and antidepressants can cause pet seizures, rapid heart rate and/or diarrhea.   Pain relievers, such as aspirin, acetaminophen an ibuprofen can lead to kidney or liver failure. Keep them in closed cabinets or limit the space and ensure the well being of your pet.

Keeping things out is really essential.

Another example, you might want to invest in a tall kitchen table with stools if he has tendencies of pulling everything off the table. You might also consider blocking a specific area if you have a cat that jumps on it.

How to Deal With Barking and Not So Neighbor-Friendly Sounds

Managing his unruly behavior (e.g. barking, annoying noise…) is another essential when living in an apartment.  Here are a few ways to deal with it:

Teach him how to bark on command and how to be quiet. If you’re using a verbal praise or some treats, wait for a few seconds before gifting him because you don’t want him to think that he’s rewarded for barking.

This is positive reinforcement, letting him know that he’ll receive treats for behaving well.   Eventually, he’ll learn how to do the same even when you’re away for work.

Alternatively, you might want to consider getting him a cat/dog trainer that can crate train him. [Crate training works well especially for pets kept in a small space or room and keeping him entertained when alone in the house.]

How Many Times to Take Them for a Walk

Regularly walk your dog. It’s important to help him release mental and physical stress. Otherwise, lack of exercise leads to the buildup of mental energy that can lead to behavioral issues, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, neurotic problem and hyperactive behavior. These are a few signs he’s not mentally stable.

Feeding Frequency

pet food

If you have a dog, feed him twice a day (morning and night).  Puppies, on the other hand, need at least four feedings.  You might also seek advice from your vet.

Having a regular feeding time lets you monitor your dog’s health as well as helps him establish discipline through a routine.

For a cat, the same would work. But then, it would also depend on your routine. But nevertheless, find a schedule and stick to it.

Overall, watch the clock. Don’t let your pet overeat. Use the timed feeding method, and throw out his leftover when the time is up (e.g. 30 minutes).

What Foods to Give

When you run out of commercial pet food for your furred friend, there are alternatives (and actually foods to include in his diet). Here are some of them.

Dog Foods

  • Green tripe
  • Milk thistle
  • Raw eggs
  • Coconut oil
  • Organ meats

Real foods, including beef, bison, chicken, fish, lamb and fresh fruits and vegetables are best foods for your dog. Occasionally, give him eggs and yogurt. Meat is also advised because dogs have short digestive tract designed it. 15


  • Meats: Lean beef, chicken, liver, lamb
  • Cooked eggs
  • Fish
  • Veggies, such as cucumber, squash, peas, broccoli, asparagus and spinach (Don’t give spinach to kittens if he has kidney or urinary tract problems because it could form crystals in his urinary tract).
  • Grains: polenta, corn and oatmeal
  • Fruits: blueberries and bananas

***If you’re considering raw diet for your pet, consult a veterinarian first.

How Many Times To Take To A Vet

how to walk a dog

  • Birth to one year old: Every three to four weeks for vaccines until he’s 4 months old
  • 1-7 years old: It depends on your pet and his breed. Generally, take him to the vet for annual checkups.
  • 7 to 10 years old: Twice a year

Essential Health Tips to Know For Caring About Pets

  1. Exercise with your pet.
  2. Feed him sufficiently and timely.
  3. Take him to the vet for regular checkups.
  4. Groom and keep him clean.

Of all things that make him feel loved, you must also maintain a regular schedule for his activities – when to go out, play, eat, ready for bed and take a nap, to name some. 18

Keeping a pet in a small apartment, you should not feel stressed provided that you know how to feed, minimize noise, choose plants and furniture and care for him. At the end of the day, knowing and doing all these things make a happy, healthy and contented pet.