Apartment-friendly Pets and How to Live With Them

For apartment dwellers, having a pet may seem like a far-off dream. But you don’t have to wait until you own your own home to get a dog, cat or other animal companion. While it might take a little more research, finding an apartment-friendly pet and learning the best ways to live with them in your limited space can make your dream of pet ownership a reality.

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Pet-friendly Apartments
Apartment-friendly Pets
Best Pets for Apartments
Best Dogs for Apartments
Best Cats for Apartments
Best Exotic Pets for Apartments
Apartment Living With Pets

Find a Pet-friendly Apartment

If you’re on the search for an apartment and are interested in getting a pet after you sign your lease, make sure the landlord allows them. While many do, some may have restrictions on the kinds of pets you can have. For example, a lot of apartments only allow small dogs up to 20 pounds in weight, especially if they’re smaller units in larger complexes. Or some might have breed restrictions or require cats to be front-declawed.

Are you interested in getting a non-standard pet like ferrets, snakes, lizards or fish? You may need to do a bit more digging. Some landlords don’t think about adding these to their banned pets list, but that doesn’t mean you can bring one home. Find out the restrictions of your new home before spending the time and money it takes to prepare your home for a pet you may not be able to keep.
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Find an Apartment-friendly Pet

So you’ve found an apartment that is fine with you having a pet — within certain restrictions — but now you have the task of deciding which pet to get. To help make your choice, here are a few things you need to think about.

Your Lifestyle

The way you live your life is a major factor in what kind of pet you should get, especially if you’re in an apartment. If you like to go out a lot or have parties at your place, look for something low maintenance — like fish — that won’t be disturbed by your irregular hours or lots of guests. If you’re more of a homebody, a cat is a great option as your companion. Active folks should consider dogs — you can take them jogging or to the park for exercise. Examine where a pet would fit into all your current responsibilities and activities before starting your search.

Your Career

If you work long hours or have a long commute, you might not be home often enough to care for a high maintenance pet like a cat, dog, rodent, bird or reptile. These animals require attention and emotional connection to thrive, as well as regular feeding, cleaning and activity. Choose a pet based on the amount of time you have to spend with them.

Your Budget

Some pets are more expensive than others. If you’re on a tight budget, a pure-bred anything is probably not right for you. These animals have upfront expenses, often costing between $1500 to $5000, and many pure-breds are prone to genetic diseases. That can mean more visits to the vet, which means more bills for you. That’s not to say mixed breed pets don’t also have the potential for medical issues, so be prepared for anything when you commit to bringing your new friend home. You’ll also need to consider food costs, equipment — leashes, cages, tanks, toys and more — and maintenance when factoring your pet into your weekly, monthly or yearly budget.

Your Personal Preferences

Some people just don’t like certain animals. We’ve all heard of cat people and dog people who prefer their favorite species to the exclusion of others — and that’s totally fine. If you’d rather not deal with dog slobber, cat litter or shedding snake skin, you’re well within your rights not to purchase or adopt a pet that doesn’t fit your likes.

A word of advice for bird fans — if you’re renting an apartment in a complex with thin walls, do your research before bringing a feathered friend home. Your pet’s vocalization might cause noise complaints, so choose a type of bird that’s known for being quieter, like a canary, finch, parakeet or Senegal parrot.

The Apartment Itself

If you’ve only got the budget for a one-bedroom apartment, a 50 pound dog might not be the right pet for you. And if your apartment is on the 12th floor, a puppy might not be a great choice either, especially if you need to take them out at 3 a.m. for an emergency potty break. Dogs are probably the trickiest pets to pick out for apartment living, so take all your apartment’s factors into consideration before heading to the breeder or shelter.
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The Best Pets for Apartments

Because most apartments are smaller spaces than homes, you’ll want to look for a pet that won’t crowd you and any roommates. Large, energetic dog breeds like Siberian Huskies and Labrador retrievers probably aren’t the best choices for your limited space. Likewise, any animals known for being loud — like Siamese cats, beagles, cockatoos — should wait until you’re renting or owning a house.

So what are the best pets for apartments?

Best Dog Breeds for Apartments

While small dogs come to mind for many considering a good pet for an apartment, there are plenty of choices among the medium and large breeds that can fit into a smaller space. Remember, any breed you get as a puppy is going to be energetic and has the potential to be barky. But with training and attention, they can make great apartment-dwelling companions.


Most greyhounds that are available for potential owners can be adopted straight from the race track after they retire. Adult greyhounds enjoy outdoor exercise in the form of long sprints, but indoors they are almost as lazy as a cat. If you want a quiet, independent couch potato a greyhound is a great choice.

Bichon Frise

A fancy name for a fancy pup, the Bichon Frise is a small, curly-haired, intelligent dog that loves to cuddle in your lap. These dogs are extremely affectionate and take to training well, making great companions for anyone who brings one home. They’re also hypoallergenic!

French Bulldog

One of the trendiest little dogs right now, the French bulldog is a quiet, friendly choice for any apartment-dweller. They’re smart, not particularly willful and travel well, so if you’re on-the-go more often than at-home, a Frenchie is still a good choice.
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Best Cat Breeds for Apartments

Pretty much any cat will do well in an apartment as they’re more suited to living in smaller spaces than dogs and tend to be less accidentally destructive when playing indoors. There are some cat breeds that require more space to roam or are more vocal than others, so if you’re adopting or buying one, ask the shelter or breeder about their temperament and living space requirements.

American Shorthair

An all-around great cat, the American shorthair is one of the most common breeds available across the country. These kitties are low maintenance and enjoy relaxing on the couch.


Fluffy and very cuddly, ragdolls are sweethearts with a low energy level. They love to be held and don’t need a ton of space to thrive. They’re a bit more affectionate than other cat breeds, so expect to spend most of your time at home with these furry friends.

Russian Blue

The Russian Blue is a gorgeous, laid-back breed of cat that knows how to make its own fun. While not standoffish, this cat won’t need you to be around 24/7 — if you work long hours, this breed is a good bet for you.
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Best Exotic Pets for Apartments

Not a dog or cat person? Want to try a different kind of animal companion? There are plenty of great options for apartment-dwellers to choose from. Just remember to take into account the time, energy and money you have to expend on these pets before bringing one home.


Intelligent but short-lived, domesticated rats might not seem like an “exotic” pet, but raising and training one is vastly different than owning a dog or cat. Rats are quiet and affectionate creatures that require little maintenance but enjoy a lot of social engagement from their humans. Be sure to socialize your rat by handling them for a long time every day to get them used to you.

Bearded Dragons

Commonly seen in pet stores all around the country, bearded dragons are a popular lizard for first-time reptile owners. They’re rarely aggressive toward humans and enjoy regular handling. They can even live to be 14 years old! Just be sure to pick out a bearded dragon from a reputable breeder that knows what variety it is so you can plan for its growth. Some types of bearded dragon can grow up to two feet long.

Tropical Fish

Fish are traditionally a low energy pet, not requiring much in the way of daily attention aside from feeding and tank cleaning. They are, however, more of a financial investment than many would have you believe. Do your research on the types and sizes of fish you want to own and find out if they need salt water or fresh water before committing to your purchase.
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Living With Your Pets in an Apartment

Apartments are notorious for being small and possibly crowded depending on how much stuff you have. Your kitchen might be open to the rest of the apartment or you may have a pantry with no doors. Whatever quirks your place has, you’ll have to plan around them to make sure your pets don’t get into any trouble. While pets that can be kept in enclosures like birds, rodents, fish and reptiles are generally safe from potential hazards in your apartment, cats and dogs that roam freely — whether you’re home or not — are at risk for getting into trouble. So how do you pet-proof your apartment?

Get rid of toxic plants. Flowers are pretty and brighten up a room with color and sometimes amazing scents, but many beautiful plants are toxic to our furry friends. Poinsettias, lilies, daffodils and other popular flowers are poisonous. Even if a plant is not toxic, it’s generally not a good idea to let your pet chomp on it, unless it’s specifically a pet-friendly plant like catnip or cat grass.

Put food away. Don’t leave plates out for an intrepid cat or bird to get into. They could eat something toxic to them, which means an expensive vet bill, or mess up their diet, potentially leaving you with a gross surprise when you get home from work.

Create a play space. If your apartment only has one bedroom, this may end up being your living room. But if you have a spare room, turn that into a fun play space for your smaller pets. Cats and small dogs can benefit from this, especially if bad weather prevents outdoor playtime. This space will also encourage them to play away from any valuable items you may have, like televisions or video game systems.

Give them a safe haven. Pets need their alone time, too, especially if you have more than one in the house. Be sure to provide adequate space for them to be alone without being bothered by lights, noise or roommates — human or animal. One simple way to do this is to make space in a closet for a cat or dog bed underneath your hanging clothes.

Provide plenty of fun. If you crate your pets while you’re away, make sure they’re not bored or you might end up with a noise complaint on your hands. Cats and dogs can both suffer from separation anxiety, so giving them something to do when they’re alone — like chewing on a bone, playing with a treat ball or eating a frozen toy filled with peanut butter — can go a long way to keeping them happy and quiet.

While you might not be able to get extravagant with your pet’s accommodations, there are plenty of small ways you can make living in an apartment with your animal companion fun and comfortable for everyone. Coming home to a happy pet, no matter where you live, is a great feeling that you can achieve with just a few tweaks to your living space.
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One part of moving into an apartment is protecting the things inside, including your beloved pets. Connect with your American Family Insurance agent to discuss renters insurance, which can cover your pets up to $1,000 with a coverage add-on to your policy.

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Related Topics: At Home , Lifestyle , Renters