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Minimum Space Required for a Cat?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Greetings,

My wife and I are recently married, and we're having to temporarily live with my parents in their apartment until we can find a place of our own. As my wife is an American citizen (I'm Canadian), we've had to leave her/our kitty behind with family in the U.S. pending my wife her receiving residency here.

Having had one or more cats for all her life, my wife misses owning one intensely. This is only compounded by her not having many human friends in Toronto as of yet. She keeps begging me to let us get one, and I wish I could--but I just don't see our situation as being ideal for owning a kitty. Yet, for the sake of her happiness, I want to at least consider it.

The problem is that we're more or less in the position of renting one room from my parents, and that would be our potential cat's primary habitat. My understanding is that cats need quite a bit of space to explore and play, especially as kittens. Not to mention that it doesn't seem like a good idea to have a litter box in such close proximity to both the cat's regular living space, and our own. (Though I suppose the box could be cleaned several times daily.)

This cat would receive all the love and attention a toddler does, possibly more--so that much isn't a problem. But is such a small environment healthy for a kitty, even if it's only for a temporary period? It could certainly be augmented with supervised exploration of the apartment at large (though it's just not a safe enough environment for a young cat to roam on its own), and even regular walks/playtime on a leash in safe outdoor areas (should the cat be willing to comply).

But I'm still not convinced that it would be right. The cat would be very well taken care of, to be sure. And we'll be moving to a larger place of our own as soon as possible (though likely not for a number of months--probably six at least). But I don't want to raise an unhappy or unhealthy kitty in the interim.

So, what do you think? Is there any way that this can work, or would such a living environment spell depression and disaster for a young cat? I'm also curious as to whether there's a particular breed that would best lend itself to small-environment living, but a too-small space is a too-small space.

Thank you for your advice.
post #2 of 13
I think that as long as the cats are given exercise and things to play and climb on, they can be happy in just about any space. John and I currently live with his parents, in their basement. The basement itself is something like 52x28 feet. Then we have our bedroom which is I think 28x15 feet. We have 13 indoor cats and 4 indoor dogs in the basment and it really is plenty of space for us.
post #3 of 13
Don't just think in floor space. Get a couple cat trees, provide a lot of toys, interactive playtime, & love.....you should be able to make it work for an adult cat. I wouldn't put one kitten in that little space.....they really would get stir-crazy & I'm afraid develop "bad habits".

You can go to your shelter & find many wonderful adult cats in need of homes. Many are wonderful lap cats & companions, just a little less active.
post #4 of 13
You could get an adult cat now with your one room place & then add a fun new kitten when you move into your bigger place... If you do adopt an older cat, just try to devote a corner to him/her right now until you get your new place. An older cat wouldn't be as hyper as a kitten so it may work out for you & make your wife happy at the same time... Hope it all works out!
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by white cat lover View Post
Don't just think in floor space. Get a couple cat trees, provide a lot of toys, interactive playtime, & love.....you should be able to make it work for an adult cat. I wouldn't put one kitten in that little space.....they really would get stir-crazy & I'm afraid develop "bad habits".

You can go to your shelter & find many wonderful adult cats in need of homes. Many are wonderful lap cats & companions, just a little less active.
I think that's a good solution. Get a relatively sedate adult now. Then when you get your own place you can get 2 rambunctious kittens! Perfect!

BTW: A "sedate" cat doesn't mean "comatose lump of fur". Adults can be plenty fun and playful. They just don't have the kitten "madness".
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by mschauer View Post
BTW: A "sedate" cat doesn't mean "comatose lump of fur". Adults can be plenty fun and playful. They just don't have the kitten "madness".
I would just like to quote this. I adopted a 10-15 y/o kitty since he was going to be euthanized the next day. He's actually one of my most active cats!

Not that you should get a kitty that old (unless you want to, seniors are adopted last)...but adult & older kitties are still wonderful, too!
post #7 of 13
Everyone has been quite supportive above, but I have one question; what about your cat who is still in the states? Wouldn't the first thing to do be to retrieve that cat and have that cat live with you and your wife in the small room? Can you not import the cat as your own?

If you get a new cat in Canada, will you also bring your old cat up to live with you in Canada when your wife gets residency?
post #8 of 13
Hello and welcome to TCS! Nice to see another male around here (a rarity...).

I agree with everything that everyone else has mentioned --- getting an older cat instead of an overly energetic kitten as well as providing as much vertical space as possible.

I'd also like to point out that, from the cat's perspective, the one room that you'll be renting will be absolutely HUGE when compared to the tiny cage that he/she is currently forced to "live" in (assuming that you and your wife choose to adopt from a shelter). And isn't the cat's perspective the one that matters most?

ETA: Try as much as possible to get a cat whose personality is similar to your wife's cat. Maybe a little younger. This would hopefully make integration down the road that much easier.
post #9 of 13
I am not entirely clear as to why you can't bring you/her old cat into Canada.
I would certainly consider getting your own cat back before getting a new one.
post #10 of 13
I think that you'll be ok with a single adult cat...maybe get one that is a little more "laid back" rather than bouncing off the walls, etc.

I agree with those that have said that you should try to get your wife's cat back. If it's possible, that may be the best option.

You can set up a corner of the room for a litterbox, a food and water dish, and a cat bed or small cat tree to give the cat some verticle space.

Most important is setting aside about 30 minutes a day to play with the cat with a feather or wand toy so he/she can get some exercise.

If you can't get your wife's cat from the US, it might be a good idea to look around for a local rescue group that has foster homes for their cats... Usually rescue groups are pretty good at working with you to find a cat that will suit your needs, in this case, an affectionate cat that isn't very high energy.

HTH,
Art
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enuja View Post
...what about your cat who is still in the states? Wouldn't the first thing to do be to retrieve that cat and have that cat live with you and your wife in the small room? Can you not import the cat as your own?
Of course, that's our obvious intention. But we can't bring her cat across until my wife has been granted permanent residency here, and that's likely at least six to eight months down the road. At the very least, we won't be travelling back to her home until July.

But that's fine, presuming that our current cat and our new cat can be socialized. Which is something that's very important. And I prefer to have cats in pairs or groups anyway, so that they have companionship.
post #12 of 13
then i agree with what everyone else said. Get an adult cat at a shelter, it will have no problem in a one bedroom with lots of attention and some vertical space. I brougt my cats home over christmas and they spent most of the week in my 10x10 bedroom (2 of them) and they didn't really care, they are both 7 and were perfectly content. Ask the shelter for a cat that they know is pretty friendly and adaptable with other cats to make the transition easier when you bring your other baby back!
post #13 of 13
I can't find any information on anyone needing to be a resident to import cats into Canada ... and it looks like people take cats on vacation with them when they go into Canada from the US! From this (official) website it looks to me that all you need to import a cat is a rabies vaccine certificate.

So I honestly don't understand the problem. If the problem is that you two can't leave the country until she gets permanent residency, it looks you can even ship your cat without you crossing the border.
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