Recently, I expressed to a friend my reservations in adopting one of the starving kittens badly needing someone to take care of them, due to my worries that it will ultimatly be miserable living in my small place (one bedroom, one WC and a corridor connecting them, where a small kitchen is located). Her point of view was that I am overthinking it and that it is illogical to project my own thoughts and worries to other beings, taking for granted on behalf of them what they are going to feel.

She insisted that it is much more preferable for a starving kitten which is struggling to survive to find a welcoming shelter, no matter how small it is, than to die and, as such, I should adopt it. Later, if I realise that it has indeed ended up feeling miserable due to its confinement in a small space, then I can search for a solution; in any case, I should face this particular problem when it actually arises and it should not stop me for doing what I feel it is right; saving a kitten from starvation.

However, my own train of thoughts leads me to believe that it is inevitable for the kitten to feel miserable living in a small place, when its basic needs will have been covered and any urgent pressure for survival will cease. Thus, since I won't be moving to a bigger house anytime soon, it is illogical to adopt a kitten when I know in advance that I can not offer to it the means to live, in the long term, a happy life.

What I would like to ask is if my friend is right. Is adopting a kitten without being able to provide the necessary space for it to live comfortably a responsible thing to do, if the alternative is to let it on its own and potentially starving to death? Will a having-faced-starvation kitten feel miserable living in a small place after a certain amount of time?

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    Equal what you choose: there will be every year new starving kittens. If they touch your heart you could engage in organizations who are neutering street cats/feral cats. You could help them for example with money, cat food or work. Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 11:49
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    @Valorum Indoor cats have a much higher life expectancy than outdoor cats.
    – nick012000
    Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 23:42
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    @nick012000 - In the UK it's not nearly as big a difference. According to the Royal Veterinary College, the average lifespan for a UK indoor cat is around 16. The average lifespan for an outdoor cat is 14. Plus outdoor cats have a higher standard of living and are less prone to, for example, anxiety and compulsive disorders.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 23:45
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    @nick012000 - In places like America the disparity is much much higher because of the incidences of feline diseases and predatory animals. My brother, for example, can't let his cat outside because it might get eaten by coyotes(!) whereas there are zero equivalent predators where I live in the North of England.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 23:46
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    Google gives me 18 sq ft for how much space do cats need. I have 2 cats in a 2 stories 1200 sq ft house (so 2400 sq ft livable space) and my cats are pretty much always at the same spot. I guess if you're playing with them every now and then, they won't mind your small place. Go with your heart here, I think it's better to have one cat living in a small place than a dead cat. Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 12:47

7 Answers 7


First question is, do you want a cat? If not, disregard the rest of my comment and say no.

I'm inclined to agree with your friend, although I do understand your reservations. If the situation the kitten is currently in involves potentially starving to death - any kind of living area where they are not starving is much more preferable. Consider how you would feel if the same situation applied to you.

Of course in the future, the cat may "grow out" of your living area, but at least it will be alive. You could always rehome to someone with a bigger house, or the cat could be so grateful for saving its life it won't be too bothered. Also, cats live a long time, you might move in to a bigger place during its lifetime.

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    Thank you for your contribution! It is important to clarify that I am not referring to any particular cat. I mentioned stray cats in need because if I am aver going to adopt one, then it won't be from a pet shop as I am against of treating them as products for transactions. But it is not like someone left a cat at my doorstep or something. As I wouldn't actively trying to find a child to adopt since I can not support it, I have reservations for actively trying to find a kitten in need to adopt if I am not sure that I won't be able to satisfy its needs later. Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 2:34
  • By the way one of the reasons I am asking here for advices is also to avoid the traps of anthropomorphizing cats; asking me to consider how I would feel is what I am trying to avoid doing; obviously not because I do not care but because the reactions of a cat and a human under the same circumstances are, well, different. Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 2:41
  • @CourageMind I see. Didn't realise that this wasn't related to your current situation, just a hypothetical future one. Honestly, I'd still stick with my answer though, especially considering people who seem more knowledgeable than me about cats have said in other answers that they don't necessarily need much space. Regarding anthropomorphizing the cats, I understand what you mean - but I disagree. When it comes down to a survival situation, I'd say when it comes to a survival situation, most animals (including humans) would react very similarly.
    – tmac24utm
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 12:54

The most important things for a cat are food and safety. Many actually prefer a smaller space because it's easier to investigate, patrol and feel safe in.

Also, cats see their world more three-dimensionally than we do. If you can provide things for them to climb and perch on, like cat trees and shelves, that is far more stimulating for them than additional boring floor space, and being up high helps them because they can more easily observe their territory and feel secure from attack.

Finally, if you still aren't sure you or your home would be good for adult cats, you can consider fostering kittens. Socializing feral kittens (not adults!) so they can be adopted is a valuable service to your community and best done in a relatively small space. Look for TNR groups and shelters in your area, which can help with finding and placing kittens, respectively, and may have connections for low-cost vet services.

  • All of you guys gave great answes and thank you for that! I will mark StephenS' answer because he was the first to point out the utilization of the vertical space and the alternative approach of fostering a kitten. Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 3:47

It's a no brainer. Once the kitten has starved to death there's no options. Saving the kitten's life gives it options.

Starving to death is a horrible way to die. A safe and well cared for kitten in a small space if preferable to a starving kitten in the elements.

Save the kitten, at least it has a chance to live and if it seems unhappy as it grows up, you can find a home for it.

You're also assuming the cat will be unhappy and that the space is too small. There's many things you can do to amuse a cat in a small space. They tend to like the company of their humans and need a scratching post.

What are some ways to increase space for cats in a small house?

Can a cat who only lives in a (small) flat be happy?

How much space do cats need when living indoors?

How large of a space do cats need before being introduced to full house?

  • Yvette thank you for your advices! I will copy a comment I wrote for another reply because I think it also applies here: I am not referring to any particular cat. I mentioned stray cats in need because if I am ever going to adopt one, then it won't be from a pet shop (I'm against treating them as products), It is not like someone left a cat at my doorstep or something. As I wouldn't actively trying to find a child to adopt since I can not support it, I have reservations for actively trying to find a kitten in need to adopt if I am not sure that I won't be able to satisfy its needs later. Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 2:36
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    The advice about utilizing vertical space is quite interesting though (not as feasible as I would wanted but it's a start). Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 2:45
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    @CourageMind, having lived in small spaces (with cats), vertical space is your most valuable resource, for both yourself and your potential furry friend! A basic cat tower can be fairly inexpensive, but offers a way for the cat to have more space by using the vertical space; similarly, you can leave a shelf available for them or add cat shelves to windows. When it comes to cats, it's more valuable to think three-dimensionally about the space. :)
    – Allison C
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 14:35

Kittens can find joy in a relatively small space with humans as companions. I’m in China, and many of my friends have cats while living in a fairly small rented apartment. So if you think you can take care of him/her, go ahead.


Don't overthink it, it's a kitten, it will be just fine in your small flat, where it will be warm, safe, fed and will have you as company. And if you make the effort to stimulate it through play and provide it with places to climb and perch itself on - even better though strictly optional at this point. Go for it and let us know how it's doing!


Your company and the care you provide are much more important to the kitten than your apartment will ever be, so as long as you like cats are are willing to take on the responsibility of caring for another living being, then you'll enrich two lives by bringing her into your home.
A cat tree for scratching and climbing will be appreciated by both of you as well.


I guess I'm the odd one out here, but I do think you are right to wonder if you can take care of this kitten in so small a place. Don't take on responsibilities that you're not ready for. The kitten won't be a kitten for ever.

  • Katinka thanks for your contribution, There is a chance of moving to a new house during Autumn, so I decided to wait a bit. I agree with you that one shouldn't act on emotional impulse if he/she does not feel ready to take on the required responsibilites. Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 3:54

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