Let’s review some popular pets for small apartments. Many people think they cannot have a pet because they do not have a yard, a big house, or the neighbors might not like it.
What kind of pet is good for a small apartment?
It may require effort in terms of creativity, understanding, and research to find a pet that aligns with apartment living but, in this article, we will explore the various pets with the potential to be the perfect pets for small apartments, and for you.
The biggest hurdle to keeping house pets if you live in an apartment, is usually whether the property owner or management company overseeing the complex allows any pets at all. Various apartment and rental proprietors are resistant to allowing pets in their units for a variety of reasons.
There are many cool pets to have, but some are not good for small spaces (or apartments). So, in reality, the best pets for small apartments are the small space pets that your landlord approves of under the terms of your lease agreement; and the ones that your neighbors can’t hear or smell.
Traditional Pets for Small Apartments
We will start with a discussion of the common house pets for small apartments and homes in the United States. Choices range from small to large, quiet to moderately loud, and from traditional to exotic.
Dogs come in all sizes from the large St. Bernard or Great Dane to the medium sized German Shephard or Labrador Retriever to small dogs like Dachshund, Pug, or Poodle. Dogs are loyal companions who love being around people.
Some dogs are not suitable pets for small apartments. Suitability is dependent on size of the dog, space in the apartment, and whether the dog barks a lot.
Small dogs are great pets for apartment dwellers because they do not need copious space and are modest maintenance. They are smart, friendly, and love to play. If you have a small apartment, then a large, active dog may not be the best choice for you. Certain types of dogs tend to bark a lot and others need lots of activity throughout the day, so having a fenced backyard is helpful for exercise.
Best Dogs for Small Apartments
- Yorkshire Terrier
- French Bulldog
A few small teacup dog breeds like Maltese, Chihuahua, or Yorkshire Terriers are quite content with a few short walks each day and prefer the indoors, close to their humans. All dogs will bark occasionally, but others rarely bark unless provoked. A poodle rarely barks and would be a great candidate for an apartment. The Cocker Spaniel is another breed worthy of consideration. Read our article about cockers.
Dogs are one of the best small pets for cuddling.
Cats are wonderful companions for apartment dwellers because of their independent nature. Unlike dogs, cats cannot vocalize their displeasure like dogs and use it to get the owner’s attention. Dogs bark to get their way.
Cats are much more subtle and prefer the understated approach. A cat may rub against a leg or jump up on a chair or couch to get the owner’s attention, but they do it silently.
If a cat does vocalize to get the owner’s attention, it is typically a single, “Meow”, and not continued until they achieve their goal, like some dogs.
Because cats are solitary creatures, they do not need large spaces. A cat is a wonderful choice for someone who wants quiet pets for small apartments. Kittens are among the best small pets for cuddling.
Hamsters are cute little rodents that are popular among kids and adults alike. Hamsters are known to be active and energetic, making them ideal for apartment dwellers who enjoy their antics. They are also cheap and easy to care for.
Hamsters require a cage with space for toys to keep them entertained and places to hide. They are active animals who love to play and exercise, but they also need places to hide and chill out.
Apart from a cage, bedding, food, toys, veterinarian care (rarely), and needing a water source, costs of keeping hamsters are minimal. They live in small spaces with their cage size ranging from 24in length x 24in width x 24in height down to 24in x 24in x 12in.
Hamsters can vocalize, but they are small little creatures, and their tiny bodies produce tiny sounds, if any at all.
The biggest noise coming from the hamster’s direction will be scratching, digging in their bedding, or frequent running on their exercise wheel. They simply do not produce the kind of noise that a neighbor in nearby apartments can hear.
If the noise from a dog is level 80, then the noise from most hamsters registers a level 2 or 3 in most cases.
4. Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are small animals that are fun to watch and are very friendly. They are social animals who enjoy activity and having friends around. Guinea pigs are intelligent and learn quickly.
Like hamsters supplying adequate care is easy. They are also inexpensive and require minimal space. Guinea pigs are great pets for older children or adults because they are playful and entertaining.
These cuddly little balls of fur make perfect apartment pets and guinea pigs are known for low noise levels. Provide them with lots of room in their cage for moving around including some climbing obstacles and toys.
The playful rodents enjoy time out of the cage. Discourage handling by young children unless supervised by an adult. Please play with these little guys and gals on the floor (or near it). The risk of a small pet falling from a height of more than 3 or 4 inches could be catastrophic and injure your little friend.
Hamsters are among the best small pets for anxiety and are widely considered low maintenance pets.
Rats are intelligent and social animals that are great for apartment dwellers looking for an interesting pet. Pet rats are also easy to care for and require only a small amount of room.
Pet rats need larger cages than a hamster, guinea pig, or gerbil and live best with room to move around inside their cage from level to level with some available hiding spaces. Some extra cage space needs to be vertical rather than horizontal, so the cage footprint is very manageable for the small spaces available in typical 1-bedroom apartment.
If you live in an efficiency apartment or college dorm room, a rat as house pet become much more challenging and may not be advisable.
Noise levels are low and only slightly higher on the noise level scale than hamsters and guinea pigs, which could help make rats one of the best pets for small apartments.
Their high activity levels provide lots of entertainment value making them one of the best small pets for depression. Watching their goofy antics provide a ready-made boost of happiness.
Read another article about keeping rats as house pets
Exotic Pets for Small Apartments
We’ve reviewed some typical house pets, so far. Let’s learn more about some not-so-typical small space pets for homes and other small living spaces.
Rabbits are adorable and cuddly animals that are great for young children. Rabbits are also easy to care and keep, requiring only a small amount of space.
But please do your research before buying or adopting a rabbit. The local animal rescue has rabbits available regularly, which shows that some people who get rabbits as pets become disenchanted later on.
Rabbits need space to roam. They can’t be kept in a cage all the time. Rabbits to be out of the cage, engaged with their family, and have enrichment activities. Sometimes that just means sitting near their favorite human watching TV or while you read a book. Although it varies from individual rabbit to rabbit, many enjoy cuddling with their owners. Other times they prefer solitude and being still in their own space for a while where it’s quiet.
Preferably rabbits will have free range of at least a part of the living area, after it’s rabbit proofed of course. Similar to dogs, rabbits can become destructive or troublesome if their needs are not being met and excessive chewing, marking, scratching, etc. may result.
Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box.
Ferrets are small carnivorous mammals that bred originally for hunting rats and mice. They are affectionate and energetic, making them perfect pets for apartment dwellers.
Ferrets are inquisitive and love to explore. They are playful and love to play games. Ferrets require a cage large enough to stretch out and sleep comfortably.
During college, we had a house ferret. They can make excellent pets. We kept ours in an old carboard box turned upside down on a piece of plywood and cat’s bed for sleeping. That worked well for quite some time until the ferret chewed several holes in the box making a huge mess. Unfortunately, some ferret owners tire of them and have to rehome them.
Before buying a ferret, spend some time around them, talk to friends who’ve owned ferrets and learn both the good and the bad of ferret ownership. (This advice actually goes for the purchase of any pet.)
Ferrets are not legal to own in some locations and before even thinking about breeding them, become familiar with state and federal regulations governing those activities.
You may assume that chinchillas are just a smaller rabbit. Remember that saying about assumptions? In the case of chinchillas, it could lead to an unhappy chinchilla, and then later on, an unhappy chinchilla owner.
Chinchillas do not need to bathe in water making them one of the cool pets and best pets for apartment living. They do need a regular dust bath. The dust helps keep their lustrous coat of fur shiny and thick.
Chinchillas are small rodents that originated in South America. They are popular pets among people who enjoy exotic creatures and are popular pets for small apartments. They are affectionate, sociable, and intelligent.
If you are like us and struggle with the dusting, vacuuming, and overall cleaning at times, the idea of bringing more dust into the house – on purpose – may not sound appealing. But it’s essential chinchillas. Please don’t bath your chinchilla in water. The dust bath is what they need. The dust absorbs the oils that build up in their coat and keep everything kosher with your fury friend.
To learn more about chinchillas and see what is possible having a well bonded and trained pet chinchilla, visit Phil E Chinchilly on social media. Forewarning – you may fall in love with Phil!
Read our detailed article about why chinchillas make amazing pets.
Gerbils’ tiny size make them delicate pets. Holding them tightly or gripping them may incur a gerbil bite. Biting is a self-defense mechanism and is usually a signal that the animal doesn’t appreciate something about an action their human is taking.
Caring for a gerbil differs little from hamsters and Guinea pigs. Their small size requires consideration for the cage or crate they are house in. It needs bars spaced appropriately so the gerbils can’t squeeze through the openings, but still allow free-flowing ventilation.
Chewing, gnawing, and scratching are typical gerbil behaviors. Their cage should be adequate to prevent the gerbil from chewing through it for an escape.
Like hamsters and guinea pigs, gerbils are pocket sized pets that do not need big cages. One of the smallest house pets, gerbils are affordable and popular for children to learn the responsibility that comes with pet ownership.
A gerbil on the loose without supervision may find itself in a serious predicament from hazards – especially the family cat or dog, if you have one of those (or both).
Read more about pet gerbils.
Common Water Pets
Fish are a fantastic as pets for small apartments and make some of the best options for small space pets.
Watching fish swim around an aquarium is soothing and intoxicating. If brand new to aquarium keeping plecos, barbs, Angelfish, killifish and rainbow fish are other popular varieties to start with. Bettas are another popular choice. Most of those fish can be housed in tanks of 40-gallons or less, which don’t take up a lot of room. Read about betta fish tank sizes.
Aquarium fish are easy to care for and supply hours of entertainment. They are also affordable and require little space. Fish can be low maintenance pets for small apartments, if you develop a systematic approach to their care.
Many breeds of fish respond directly to humans and interact. Referred to by hobbyists as wet pets Oscars, Green Terrors, Jack Dempseys, Flowerhorns, and Jaguars are popular cichlid varieties.
If you are leaning towards a wet pet and have some fish keeping experience, be aware that keeping those larger cichlids require much larger fish tanks, more equipment for filtering, cleaning and treating the water to maintain optimal water parameters. And the larger fish in larger tanks require more cleaning.
For example, a single Oscar does best in a minimum 75-gallon tank whereas a Jaguar needs 100 gallons or more. Various apartment communities have restrictions on tank size and whether it can be kept above ground level, if at all. It’s best to confirm what is and is not allowed by the landlord before setting up an apartment aquarium.
The elephant in the room pertaining for fish keeping – a leaking tank, or worse, a tanks that bursts – incurs risk for apartment owners and managers. If a 125-gallon fish tank drains, and won’t hold water, gravity is going to pull that water down through those who live in apartments and floors immediately below.
When keeping large fish tanks consider whether renters or homeowners insurance provides for water damage coverage.
Uncommon Apartment Pets
11. Small Parrot
Small parrots are great pets because they do not need much space and are typically low maintenance. They are also intelligent and social animals who make good companions.
Larger parrots including macaws, Amazons, African greys, Cockatoos, and even medium sized birds like the Sun and Blue Crown Conures are quite noisy.
Some popular bird pets for small apartments include the Green Cheek Conure, Cockatiel, Finch, Canaries, Budgies aka Parakeets, and possibly the medium-sized Senegal or Pionus parrots.
All birds make noise, especially early in the morning and at dusk. Known as flock calls this is normal bird behavior. Birds do this to summon their friends and family home for roosting in the evening or to greet the day and demand food from their human caregiver.
Even the quietest Green Cheek can be demanding and vocalize quite loudly on occasion. In our house, this sometimes occurs when one family member is nearby watching television. Our Green Cheek sometimes calls the other family members into the room so that her entire flock is present together. Birds bond deeply with their human family and simply miss their companionship at times.
If you prefer a larger bird, and noise is a primary concern, the Senegal or Pionus are viable options. I have not owned either variety, but they impressed me after spending time with both species at a local bird owner social gathering.
Keep in mind that proper bird care includes clean water, food, cage liners, perches, drip catch pans, and toys. You can’t simply put a bird in a cage and never let them out, with the parakeets or canaries as exceptions.
Bird keepers need to complete proper research, have an avian veterinary nearby, and commit to the financial costs of owning a bird. You’ll need pet sitters and / or a place for your bird to stay when you go on vacation. If you live in an apartment, we don’t recommend leaving your bird for a week. In a worst case, you might return to an eviction notice on your door, in a best case, you may return to unhappy comments and snarky glances from your neighbors.
Are you prepared for the commitment?
As with most all pets, these costs add up into large sums. Keep in mind that several birds on this list will easily live for 15 – 30 years (or more).
Consider whether you would be willing to move to a new location if birds just being birds become an issue for your neighbors because it’s not fair to surrender your bird to a rescue after they’ve bonded to you as their favorite human.
Consider whether you can commit to supplying care for what may be the majority of your life.
Turtles are reptiles and are slow-moving, peaceful, and calm. They are best as indoor pets. Outdoors you contend with climate, either too hot or cold, digging, predators, and the potential for escape.
Certain turtle varieties are protected and not allowed as pets. Awareness of your local laws and regulations for turtles-as-pets is an absolute necessity.
We won’t get into specific species here, since turtles are regulated heaving in many jurisdictions, but you’ll need to decide between a terrestrial, aquatic, or semi-aquatic turtle.
Some turtles grow quite large (a hundred pounds or more) and live more than 50 years. If apartment living is the long-term housing strategy for you, then we recommend not keeping turtles as pets. But if apartment living is temporary and you plan to move into a single-family dwelling down the road, keeping a turtle could be a great pet option.
Turtles might make good pets for small apartments if you stick to one of the smaller varieties.
Don’t collect turtles from the wild. It may be a violation of wildlife regulations, for one, and two, captive bred turtles usually make better pets, are more resistant to disease, etc.
Before buying your turtle, join a reptile forum or discussion board to learn more about them. Talk to current owners who live nearby, locate the closest retile veterinarian, and network with other who keep the same turtle species you are considering.
Before buying a pet for small children, adults should carefully consider whether they can provide proper support and guidance. The smaller pets on the list need careful handling.
Dogs and small parrots might do well in an apartment but carefully consider the breed you choose because various dogs bark a good deal, and certain parrots are quite loud.
Poodles, chihuahuas, or miniature pinschers might work for dog lovers and pionus, green cheek conures, and cockatiels are nice candidates for those who prefer birds.
Keeping pet betta fish sound appealing? Then be sure to check out our article about bettas. Bettas are among the best potential pets for small apartments.
List of Reasons Not to Buy an Apartment Pet
- Please don’t buy any pet that you can’t properly care for physically, financially, or emotionally.
- Even small pets can be time consuming.
- Cleaning up after animals is part of the ownership experience.
- Pets are not convenience animals, decorations, or passing fads.
- Pets require a long-term commitment (some much longer than others).
- Understanding this will improve your ownership experience and your pet will appreciate you for it.
And, if none of the animals on the list have pet potential for you and your living conditions at the moment, consider postponing your purchase for a while until you’re in a better position to provide proper care, or look for other ideas for pets for small apartments.
Note: Please check with your landlord and carefully read your lease rental agreement before finalizing your plans for purchasing a pet.
Read our article about best small pets for cuddling.