A dog may be man’s best friend, but a cat will be your roommate, co-conspirator, personal demon, motivation to keep your counters tidy, and above all else—your ever-ready companion. That is… if you can actually have one in your apartment.
Some property managers are lacking in the ability to comprehend how amazing our feline friends really are, and make you sign a lease that prohibits pets.
If your lease prohibits pets, there are a few tips we can give you to help you get away with hiding your cat! You can use scented candles and an air freshener to keep your apartment smelling kitty cat-free, use a high-powered vacuum cleaner and regularly shampoo your cat to make sure there’s no dander, and you can keep all of your cat’s items well organized so that you can quickly hide them away if there’s an apartment inspection.
If you need tips on how to hide your cat from your landlord, you’ve come to the right spot. Read on to make sure your feline friend is as safe as you are!
- Is it Easy to Hide a Cat in an Apartment?
- Why Do Landlords Have no Pets Policies?
- How Do You Secretly Hide a Cat?
- Pet Owner Tips For Hiding the Cat Itself
- Do I Have to Tell my Landlord About a Cat?
- Can Landlord Refuse a Cat?
- What Happens if You Lie About Having Pets?
- Can a Landlord Evict You For Having a Pet in the US?
Is it Easy to Hide a Cat in an Apartment?
The short answer here is: no, it’s not always easy to hide your pet in an apartment. It can be stressful and requires a lot of planning, but if you have no other choice, then it’s worth it to keep your cat close and cared for.
If you rent a house, particularly in a rural area, it may be easier. Living in a smaller apartment means that there will be less room to hide your cat, should the need arise.
Why Do Landlords Have no Pets Policies?
There are a number of reasons why landlords may not want you to have a cat in your apartment. While you are the one living in that apartment or house now, if it’s a rental then people will come after you. This is why many landlords are against cats or pets in general.
Many of the reasons revolve around retaining the value of the property after you’re gone. The same is true about why a leasing office may not allow you to have a dog.
Here are some of the most common reasons why a no-pet policy may be in place:
- Allergies and pet dander impacting other tenants
- Pet hair in the carpet and furniture
- The landlord simply may dislike pets
- Pet smell permeating the apartment
- Potty training or litter box accidents
- An infectious disease that can be transmitted by cats
Some of these may come down to preference, while some are serious issues that should be respected. Even if your landlord doesn’t know you have a pet on the premises, you should still respect the health of your local community by taking your pet for a check-up regularly.
Cats can spread infectious diseases, and you wouldn’t want your pet to transmit something like ringworm to another cat, or even a dog. Your veterinarian can help you make sure that your kitty is healthy and safe to be kept around other pets and humans.
How Do You Secretly Hide a Cat?
If you want to hide your cat from a landlord, you have to consider every item that your cat needs and how to make it take the least space possible.
Each item also needs to be in a location where it can be quickly and efficiently put away if your landlord visits, especially if your landlord has a tendency to visit unexpectedly.
Subtle food storage isn’t too difficult to obtain. Cat food bags can be rolled up inside opaque containers so that maintenance staff or the landlord will have no idea it’s there unless they open that container.
You can train your cat into a pattern of feeding times so that you only have to open the container at specific times of the day, and all of the rest of the time it is hidden away.
Litter boxes are one of the easiest things to hide away physically, but can be costly and will not always help you with the smell. If you’ve ever owned cats, you’ll know that there is a distinct odor associated with a litter box, and unfortunately, it isn’t a pleasant one.
Your cat’s litter box as the actual item can be hidden in a number of ways. There are pieces of furniture like side tables, bookshelves, and storage benches that come with small doors the cat can jump up in.
Some of these storage benches even have an opening on the bottom, meaning that it would be out of sight for anyone but your four-legged friend.
There wouldn’t even be a need to scramble when the landlord calls, because the litter box would be invisible to anyone that walked in.
Now for the smell—that part is more difficult. We’ll cover that more in a segment below, but changing litter regularly is an absolute necessity.
The rule with cats is that if you tell them not to sleep on it, then they’ll sleep on it. Clean laundry, fresh towels, a shirt you wanted to put on and you only turned around for five seconds…
Luckily if you tell them to sleep on it… they’ll usually do that, too! So it’s not too hard to find a cat bed that will either be incognito (what building manager is going to think twice about a folded-up blanket or a pillow?) or will be extremely easy to tuck away on short notice.
Foldable carrier bags are very convenient for this, but if you don’t want to subject your cat to sleeping in a carrier bag that’s only meant for transport, there are better options. You can buy specific brands that are meant to double as a sleeping space and a carrier!
They generally come with sides that can fold completely down, meaning it’s a normal-looking bed until you pull the sides up and zip it closed. You won’t have to worry about hiding both the bed and the carrier when there’s a scheduled inspection because they’ll be one and the same.
These even have the added benefit that your cat will not be nearly as suspicious when you do need to take it to the vet. Cats are keen and easily develop associations from observing patterns.
Cats love hanging out by windows. There are even special window seats on the market that attach with suction cups and allow your cat to lounge in the sun and watch the world go by outside.
However, if you’re trying to hide your pet from your property manager or landlord, you definitely don’t want to let your cat do this. Nothing is a dead giveaway like your landlord or other tenants walking by and seeing your curious little pet with their face pressed to the glass.
This is particularly dangerous if your landlord lives on the property and walks past your windows often.
An alternative is to use a tablet or your television screen and play outdoor videos sometimes. If you search on popular video upload websites you can find hours upon hours of footage specifically meant for your pet. Videos of birds landing on feeders, squirrels eating, and even other cats give them the sense of stimulation a window would have.
One of the biggest giveaways that you may be harboring small pets is the smell and the dander.
Cat dander can set off allergies in people around you, and if you’re very unlucky, maybe even a landlord’s allergies! To keep the dander at bay, you can use pet shampoo and bathe your cat approximately every one to two weeks.
Pet hair is another kind of menace. You’ll need to be very regular with vacuuming. Buying a robot vacuum cleaner and setting it up on a regular schedule might help you if you have a pet that tends to shed. You might be surprised if you’re a lifelong pet owner, but homes without pets rarely have many stray hairs, so this is a dead giveaway that you’re keeping a cat.
It is also important to change the litter regularly to avoid that other kind of pet smell that nobody enjoys!
The first rule of cats is that they’ll nap anywhere. But the second rule is… they’ll play with anything.
Cats love toys. They love all the toys, really. If you have two cats or even three cats, they’ll likely play with each other. But if you just have one cat and no other secret pets, you will need to provide it with something to play with.
A cat plays for at least twenty to sixty minutes a day, split throughout the day. It’s extremely important to keep them feeling mentally stimulated and satisfied, or the unused energy may turn destructive.
The nice thing about cat toys is that cats will actually make anything a toy. You don’t need to have your floor littered with obvious items like plush mice and plastic balls that rattle around with bells inside.
Most cats are happy to have a scrunchy hair accessory. Cats also love laser pointers, which are extremely inconspicuous and easy to have on your keychain or in a drawer.
Some other household items that can be perfect cat toys are:
- Plastic bottles
- Cardboard boxes (ever wonder why?)
- Bottle caps
- Ping pong balls
- Paper bags
And if all else fails, keep an eye on what your cat naturally tries to play with!
Pet Owner Tips For Hiding the Cat Itself
During inspections, not only do you need to be able to hide all of the feline accouterments away but you need to do something with the actual cat itself.
Unfortunately for you, unless your pet’s personality is particularly docile, your cat may not exactly listen if you just tell it to shush and be still in a hiding spot for a few hours. Frankly, cats don’t like to listen to anything! Even if it’s in their best interest.
You may also consider not having more than one cat. While it is hard to say no to beloved cats, the more you have, the harder they are to hide. The chance that a cat escapes also goes up, particularly in a small apartment with a door that leads outside.
If you do have beloved cats that you simply can’t part with, here are some tips for how to get them out of the apartment during an inspection.
Most veterinarians offer pet boarding, and there are also dedicated boarding facilities for your animals. This may get pricey depending on how many cats you have. Some of these even board the cats in their own home!
It may be preferable to hiding a pet, even for a few minutes, when your landlord shows up. Make sure to research the boarding service thoroughly before you send your kitty off on a little vacation.
Someone to pet sit can be a great option if you don’t have the money for an actual boarding fee, or don’t want to leave your cat with the boarding facility for the required time.
A sitter can come to pick your cat up and keep it for only the amount of time that you want before they bring the cat home. Just remember that like with boarding a cat, the more cats you have someone pet sit, the more expensive the pet sitter will be.
Call a Friend
If you can’t get an official pet sitter, or you’re working under short notice, you may be able to contact a close friend and use that friend’s house as a temporary hideout spot while your rental property is inspected.
You can have a friend that knows your situation and lives nearby so that they can leap into action and get your pet from your house as soon as you need them!
This may be one of the cheapest and easiest avoidance tactics when it comes to getting around no pets lease agreements. If your building regularly undergoes inspection, you can set up a schedule in advance.
Do I Have to Tell my Landlord About a Cat?
This is a question with two answers.
Are you legally required to tell your landlord about a cat? Yes, you most certainly are. Not doing so if your landlord allows them, but you have not paid a monthly fee to have a cat, or if your landlord has specifically disallowed them, goes against your lease agreement.
Are you morally obligated to tell your landlord about your cat? That’s a question for you and you alone. Many people hide their pets from their landlords, but it’s certainly not risk-free or legal.
Can Landlord Refuse a Cat?
Yes, a landlord personally can refuse a cat. Some pet owners may find their rental office more compassionate in making exceptions for an emotional support animal.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Some landlords may make exceptions for emotional support animals. Emotional support animals are pets (cats, dogs, or other animals) that provide some measure of therapy or therapeutic assistance to the owner.
Emotional support pets can be very helpful to people with anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Remember that there is a difference between emotional support and service, though. A landlord is not required to allow you to have an emotional support animal like they would be a service dog. Cats are actually not recognized as service animals in any scenario.
If you do decide to attempt the emotional support angle, you may be required to have a doctor’s note to convince your landlord that the animal provides vital and necessary support to you.
What Happens if You Lie About Having Pets?
If you have decided to implement avoidance tactics in order to keep your pets in your home and you get caught, you may be subject to legal fees or asked to pay an additional deposit to cover any damage your cat may inflict.
The landlord’s main concern will be that the house has not lost any value because of your pets. You may also completely lose any security deposit that you may have paid upon moving in. The landlord may terminate your rental contract and ask you to move out.
Can a Landlord Evict You For Having a Pet in the US?
One point you should be very clear on is that breaking a lease agreement that specifically says pets are not allowed does qualify you for immediate eviction.
Even in a situation where your landlord allows pets, there may be restrictions on the breed, type, or size. Harboring a size or type of pet that the landlord has specifically stated is not acceptable in the house will also qualify you for eviction.
Hiding a cat is easiest if your landlord lives off the property and cannot make short-notice visits. Unfortunately, because many landlords do live on the property, you’ll have to be extra careful keeping your cats away from windows and making sure that they don’t make too much noise. It’s hard to convey to a pet that they need to be quiet, but it’s incredibly important here.
You’ll also need to make sure that you can quickly transform the place you live into a pet-free area. Toys shouldn’t be left lying around (or if they are, they shouldn’t be obvious as pet toys), your cat should be healthy and clean to avoid setting off allergies nearby, and any accessories your pet needs should store easily or subtly double as furniture.
If you do abide by the guidelines we’ve covered here, you should be able to hide your pet successfully! Just be aware that if you do happen to get caught, your landlord does have the right to evict you, or may you pay pet fees.