The purrs, tail wags, and laughs you get from owning a pet feel great. It doesn’t just feel great, however — scientific studies have found that interacting with animals decreases levels of cortisol (the nasty stress hormone), lowers blood pressure, decreases feelings of loneliness, and improves your mood. 

Best of all, you don’t have to live in a house to have a pet! As long as the rules allow it, apartment dwellers can enjoy the benefits of owning a pet — even if their living space is more compact. 

Here’s a list of the best pets for apartments.

Cats

The number one choice for the best pet for apartment living is a cat. Felines are the second-most popular pet in the U.S., with 47.1 households owning at least one cat (this according to the American Pet Products Association). 

Why do cats make the best apartment pets? For one, they don’t have to be taken outside, eliminating sleepy 5 a.m. potty walks in your bathrobe. Cats are also masters at making the most of small spaces. If your apartment is extremely small, you might also make use of the vertical space by purchasing a tall cat tree or (with your landlord’s permission) installing shelving or perches that allow your cat to reign from above. Cats can also function fine when left alone for hours at a time while you go to work. All this makes them great pets for smaller spaces.

Dogs

Although cats came in at the top of the list of best apartment pets, dogs are actually the most popular pet, with 60.2 million American households counting a dog among their number. They have the added benefit of getting you out and about — both for walks and pet-related events around your city.

Choosing the best dog for apartment dwelling will depend on checking with your landlord about size or breed restrictions and researching breeds to learn about characteristics and recommended activity levels. Even more sedentary dog breeds will need to be walked for exercise and stimulation, but breeds such as Boston Terriers, Chihuahuas, Great Danes, Greyhounds, Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Yorkshire Terriers do well in apartment environments. Finding a breed that won’t bark or tear things up will ensure that you stay on the good side of your neighbors and don’t lose your security deposit.

Fish

Perhaps the quietest and maintenance-free of apartment pets, fish also offer a plethora of health benefits (watching them make their way around an aquarium has been proven to reduce stress and blood pressure, for example). They don’t require walks, won’t scratch the furniture, won’t disturb the neighbors, and only require daily feeding and regular bowl or tank maintenance. Perhaps we moved too quickly in putting cats at the top of the list?

Birds

Similar to cats, birds are compact, hands-on pets that don’t require being taken outside for walks. While they can be colorful, affectionate, and entertaining apartment pets, birds do come with a specific set of needs and characteristics. Unlike cats, birds need a great deal of social interaction and do not thrive when left alone for long periods of time. Birds can also make quite a bit of noise — something that can be problematic to apartment neighbors. These are definitely factors to consider before adding a feathered friend to your apartment dwelling!

Rodents and Reptiles

Hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, and rats also make compact companions for apartment dwellers. Keep their cages clean and comfortable and most rodents will be pleased with being taken out for supervised playtimes when you’re home. Two things to keep in mind, however: most rodents do better in pairs, so you may need to plan for a cage large enough for at least two. Also, guinea pigs tend to communicate with squeaking and clicking noises — which may be problematic when living in close quarters with apartment neighbors.

Turtles, snakes, and other reptiles are another kind of popular apartment pet, as they’re quiet and can easily exist in compact spaces. With all of the above, however, it’s essential to communicate with your landlord to make sure your pet will be allowed. Hamsters, turtles, and snakes can all be considered exotic pets and may be restricted by some properties.

Choosing the best pets for apartments will depend on the rules where you live, your personality, and the individual characteristics of the pet you’re considering. With the proper research, you’ll soon find the perfect furry, feathered, or scaled companion to keep you company in your pet friendly apartment!