Recommended space requirements for cats kept in a pet retail environment


In line with a decision made by PIJAC Canada’s National Board of Directors, the association was asked to prepare a set of recommended space requirements for pets kept in a pet retail environment. This document represents the fourth segment of the exercise and refers to cats.

The following is the result of some research done from a compilation of documents from around the world. At this particular point in its development, the document reflects the expertise identified and selected by the staff of PIJAC Canada.

Among the references used to build this document we consulted; the Pet Care Manual from Pet Industry Federation UK, the National Code Practice from the Pet Industry Association of Australia, the Proposed Housing Standards for Cats and Dogs in Companion Animal Establishments from the Prince Edward Island Government, a referral to the State of Colorado’s published Animal Care Facilities guidelines and a document from the Ministry of Agriculture and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.


The following assumptions have been taken into account to come up with the recommendations appearing in this document. The following are a compilation of assumptions based on information from the documents listed in the above background

  1. Definition of Pet retail environment. “Pet retail environment” means any place or premise used in whole or in part, whether on a permanent or temporary basis, for the purpose of retail sale, trading, , or otherwise transferring pet animals to the public. In addition to the traditional pet shop or wholesaler, pet retail environments shall include the keeping for transfer or the transfer of pet animals at temporary facilities such as flea markets, mobile facilities, department stores, merchandise outlets, discount outlets, pet animal shows conducting a sale, and other types of retail outlets.
  2. “Cat” means an adult or juvenile cat, and includes a kitten (male and female) 8 weeks or older;
  3. The minimum needs for socialization and exercise are already being met;
  4. “Housing unit” means any cage or other enclosure used to house a cat but does not include housing in a cage while transporting a cat outside a companion animal establishment;
  5. Notwithstanding the other assumptions, it is understood that while this document specifically refers to space requirements, it does assume that all other pertinent animal welfare considerations, as outlined in other PIJAC Canada publications, are being met.
  6. Other related activities (grooming, adoption, etc.) must also comply with the previous assumptions. However, housing dimensions will take into consideration the size of the animals concerned;
  7. The housing units shall comply with the following:
    a. Height of housing unit must not be less than 20 centimeters from the top of the head of the tallest cat to the ceiling of the housing unit, as measured when the cat is standing and must allow the animal to stretch fully upright on its hind legs.
    b. It is recommended that cats/kittens from different litters should be housed in separate enclosures to avoid any possible cross-contamination.
  8. If a resting perch is used then the following criteria are assumed;
    a. The resting perch surface area should be no less than 600 sq cm and no more than 25% of the base floor surface area;
    b. The cat can rest comfortably upon it;
    c. The height of the resting perch should be high enough that the cat can fit underneath it;
    d. The top of a hooded litter box can be considered as a resting perch surface.
    e. The resting perch surface area shall be in addition to the floor space prescribed for a housing unit in the following table
  9. Notwithstanding other assumptions, each cat should be kept in a housing unit with dimensions that will accommodate the height, weight and length of the cat comfortably, with enough room to stand, sit, lie down and turn around without restriction or overcrowding;

In light of the assumptions made, here are tables of recommended space requirements for cats and kittens.

Recommended space requirements:

CatMinimum base floor area in square cmMinimum width in cmMinimum height in cmMaximum # of animalsIncreased floor area for each additional animal in square cm
Kittens (8-16 weeks)






Adults/kittens 16 weeks +






June 2015