The Top Cat Breeds for Apartment Dwellers

The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association's 2009-10 Pet Owners Survey reports that there are approximately 93.6 million cats living in US households, while there are only about 77.5 million dogs. Part of the reason cats have overtaken dogs in the house pet popularity contest is that cats adapt more easily to indoor life and can cope better with their humans' busy lifestyles. However, some cats still make for better apartment housemates than others.

The Apartment-Friendly Personality

When choosing a feline roommate, look for the following temperament traits:

  • Adaptable, easygoing disposition
  • Doesn't need to be highly active to be happy
  • Soft-spoken
  • Can tolerate being alone for up to eight hours at a time (particularly if you work or are away a lot during the day)
  • Sociable
  • Not overly territorial

Be sure to take your lifestyle into account when selecting a cat, too. If you plan to entertain a lot, be sure your cat will be able to tolerate --or even enjoy-- other people and the potential noise and chaos of parties (even a sedate dinner party is chaotic as far as some cats are concerned).

Apartment-Friendly Breeds

Below is a list of several breeds that are known to be good companions for apartment dwellers. Of course, personalities and temperaments will vary somewhat within each breed, so be sure to talk to your breeder to ensure that your feline friend will be a good fit for your living situation.

The British Shorthair is particularly known for its ability to adapt well to apartment life. Quiet and friendly with its owner, this hardy breed is also a good fit for first-time cat owners. If you want a lap cat, this breed is for you.

The easygoing and affectionate Persian, with its relatively placid demeanor, is a good fit for apartment life. However, the Persian does need attention and will not thrive in an environment where its owner is away a lot. The Persian requires daily grooming to prevent mats. If you like the Persian personality but would prefer a lower-maintenance coat, check out the Exotic, the short-haired version of the Persian.

The Russian Blue is an affectionate but independent cat, well-suited for a life with working singles. They are known to be shy with strangers but very loyal to their favorite person. Their plush blue coat requires very little maintenance. They are moderately active and enjoy playing.

The Javanese is playful, affectionate, and vocal. Although the Javanese can tolerate being alone during the day, they do need daily one-on-one time with their owners to be truly happy. This breed is best suited for first-time cat owners and would do best in the household of a retired senior.

The Ragdoll is known for its laid-back and gentle temperament. If you're looking for a lap cat that enjoys playtime but isn't especially demanding, a Ragdoll could be your ideal companion. These cats should be kept indoors only and adapt well to apartment life.

Other Apartment Cat Options

There are lots of mellow, easygoing cats waiting at animal shelters for permanent homes. If you choose to adopt from a rescue organization, look for an adult cat. Once a cat is three years old or so, its personality is fully formed, and the shelter staff can help you find a feline friend that fits your lifestyle. If you can cope with the fact that your cat may not be with you for many years, senior cats tend to be especially calm and would welcome a warm and loving home for their golden years.

Consider adopting two cats, either littermates or adult cats with compatible personalities. They can keep each other company and entertain one another while you're away, and you'll get twice as much love and affection when you return home after a long day.

Special Considerations

Your cat will benefit from having vertical territory. A tall cat tree or a special place on the mantel or bookshelf can give your feline friend the feeling that your apartment is much bigger than it is. This is particularly important if you have more than one cat; the extra space can help to prevent stress-related behavior problems such as fighting or inappropriate elimination.

Ultimately, the most important factor in selecting an apartment-friendly cat is not its breed but its personality. Your breeder can help you choose a companion that will suit your living situation and your lifestyle. Be honest about your housing and your lifestyle--including how long you tend to be away from home for work or travel--and if a breeder tells you that a particular breed is not suitable for life in small apartments, take their word for it. Breeders want their cats to have good "forever homes" and will do everything they can to ensure a good match. When you take your time to find the right cat, you and your feline friend can be boon companions for life.