Finding an apartment that allows pets is hard, and renting with cats can be even more difficult.
Cats get a bad rep with landlords. They think that renting to cat owners means their rental property will be covered in cat hair and smell like a litter box.
My boyfriend, Kyle, and I were lucky enough to find a landlord who was okay with our 3 cats. We didn’t even have to pay an extra deposit! But it took a lot of searching and asking questions and feeling discouraged to find where we live now.
Here are a few tips for finding and maintaining an apartment with cats that will keep you–and your landlords–happy.
Make Sure Your Vet Records Are Up To Date
A lot of landlords will require that your cats are up-to-date on their shots and that they’re spayed or neutered before renting to you. Getting the paperwork ahead of time will make the apartment search quicker.
Vet records can also be a good bargaining chip if you try to negotiate with a landlord. If you have more cats than the maximum or you’re trying to keep a cat in a no-pet apartment, showing that your cat is healthy and that you take an active role in caring for them may soften them up to the idea.
Be Prepared for Additional Fees and Deposits When Renting with Cats
One of the downsides to renting with cats, or any pets, is the extra fees that are often tacked on. These fees are like insurance to the property management that any damage done by your pets can be fixed.
This is an unfortunate circumstance, but it’s also sometimes unavoidable. We got lucky that our landlord didn’t make us pay extra, but in our previous apartment, we did have to pay an extra $200 because of our cats.
Be sure to budget out this extra money when apartment shopping.
Use Online Search Tools, But Don’t Be Afraid To Talk to Landlords
I found my current apartment on Craigslist, actually, and I would still recommend it as a viable place to find apartments. It gets a reputation for being a bit sketchy, but most people still list their rental properties there.
You can also try PeopleWithPets, which is designed specifically to find apartments that are pet-friendly. And the traditional search options like Zillow and Apartments.com have ways to filter pet-specific apartments.
Don’t be afraid to call a landlord about their pet policy, especially for those with a pet maximum. Most places I looked at had a maximum of three pets, but I have 3 cats. I spent a lot of time calling to see if they would allow one more.
I didn’t get lucky, but I know plenty of people who have. It’s much easier to convince a landlord who is already allowing one pet to allow two rather than a landlord who has banned all pets.
I would also suggest looking for privately managed properties with one landlord and not properties owned by management companies. Private landlords tend to be more lenient on their pet policies.
Keep Your Litter Box Consistently Clean
Once you find an apartment that lets you have cats, it’s important to keep it clean.
A big concern for many landlords is the litter box. Scooping every day and regularly cleaning it will minimize any odors in the house. If you have multiple cats, make sure you have the proper amount of litter box so there is no fighting for bathroom resources.
I also recommend skipping the deodorized and scented litters. While you might think this will keep your house smelling fresh, cats tend to hate it. Urine is one of their ways of marking territory, and if the scented litter covers the smell, they may look for other places to mark.
Vinegar is Your New Best Friend When Renting With Cats
If you do run into bathroom issues, vinegar is a miracle cure. I’m serious, there is nothing it can’t do.
Moving your cat into a new place might freak them out a bit. Even if they are usually great about the litter box, you may notice a few places have been marked. After all, this is a new place and, especially if there were previous owners with pets, your cats will want to declare the space theirs.
If this happens, mix a little vinegar and water together in a spray bottle, and spray it on the areas. Wipe it down with a paper towel or a dry cloth, and done. The vinegar helps break down the urine smell. The area may smell like vinegar at first, but that smell will fade.
Learn How to Effectively Remove Cat Hair
Another big concern for landlords is all of the cat hair getting stuck in the carpet or all over the furniture.
I wrote a blog post recently on dealing with the shedding cat hair, which you can check out here. Depending on the type of flooring your apartment has, there are a few different techniques you can use.
One thing that will definitely help is routinely brushing your cat. This will remove all of that shedding cat hair before it has the chance to tangle into your carpet.
Invest in Cat Furniture to Keep Your Cat Entertained
One of the biggest challenges I’ve found with renting an apartment with cats is the small space. I live in a two bedroom apartment, but it still feels a little cramped in here with the three cats sometimes.
The best thing you can do is invest in several cat towers that you can place near windows. The more ways you can take advantage of the vertical space, the bigger your apartment becomes for your cats.
You can also talk to your landlord about what decorating restrictions you have. If you’re allowed to put holes in the wall, installing shelves around the room can also be a fun way to maximize your space.
Are you renting with cats? How has your experience been?