Small Apartment, Big Ideas: 5 Ways to Make Your Compact Digs More Feline-Friendly

Cat on colorful shelf
Bob Walker
Kitty design guru Bob Walker is a big fan of wall-mounted cat shelves.

Kelli Burke, of Alexandria, Va., adores her newly adopted Maine Coon kittens, Felix and Odin. But she’s not so keen on letting the playful duo shred her sofa — or the giant litter box that's on full display in the living room of her compact apartment.

Burke wants to make her high-rise more engaging for her indoor kittens, without sacrificing nice décor or taking a big bite out of her monthly budget.

“Sometimes, I worry that there is not enough space in my small apartment to keep them busy and prevent them from destroying things out of boredom,” says Burke, a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Burke’s dilemma is one that's shared by many apartment dwellers, so Vetstreet asked the perfect person for advice on how to enrich the lives of indoor cats when space is at a premium: Bob Walker, who's best known for his creative feline furniture and interior designs.

Walker is the man behind the famous Cats' House in San Diego, which he shares with his wife, Frances, a Dachshund named Sadie, and nine contented cats. Animal Planet producers have described their home as “the most wildly cat-centric abode imaginable.” (For proof, check out our gallery of the Cats' House.)

From hidden litter boxes to chic cat shelves, Walker offers his top five tips for turning your small-in-size apartment into a major feline-friendly abode.

Don’t Fixate on Square Footage

The amount of floor space you have isn’t as important to indoor cats as how you utilize available floor-to-ceiling real estate. “Think in terms of vertical space and cubic space options by utilizing areas behind and around furniture,” says Walker.

Cats like to perch up high and look down at their surroundings, so consider mounting a sturdy window perch, or position a tall cat tree near a sliding glass door to give your cat a view of the world outside.

“Cats are sun-seekers," says Walker. "So these places can provide a cozy place to also take a cat nap.”

Install Chic Climbing Posts

Many cats like to sharpen their claws and show off their climbing skills, so consider buying a compact floor-to-ceiling post, which you can wrap in thick sisal rope. It will look more sophisticated — and your kitty will get a good workout scaling the tower.

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