Can You Keep a Cat In a Dorm Room?

If you are off to college, you may be wondering if it is possible to keep a cat in a dorm room. Well, for the most part, this does depend on your university and the rules that dominate your dorm building.

Another valid question that you should be asking yourself, though, is how to make this work.

As you are well aware, a dorm room is a completely different environment to a house or apartment. So, does it make sense to have a cat there? In that case, how do you make sure that your cat is happy and comfortable in this space? Here is your guide to all of this and more…

Check with Your University

As you can imagine, there aren’t too many pet-friendly universities. Thus, your first order of business is to check ahead of time that your college will let you have a cat in your dorm. To start with, here is a list of the top pet-friendly universities in the US:

  • Stephens College
  • Sweet Briar College
  • Cal Tech
  • MIT
  • Stetson University
  • University of Florida
  • Delaware Valley University
  • Johnson and Wales University
  • Eckerd University
  • The University of Illinois
  • High Point University
  • Lees-McRae College
  • University of Idaho
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • University of Washington

Of course, even here, there are restrictions. For instance, your cat may not be allowed to roam free and may need to be confined to the dorm room unless they are on a leash. Your feline friend may also only be allowed in certain dorm buildings and there could be several restriction points throughout the university.

You should also consider your roommate. Most universities will only let you bring a cat if they can pair you up with someone who doesn’t mind having a feline companion around.

It is a good idea to always email universities upfront. They will be able to offer up complete guidelines on how to proceed. They will also make you aware of all the rules, restrictions, etc. This way, you can make a more fully informed decision.

Consider the Logistics

Now, just because you are allowed a cat in your dorm doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. If this is something that you are considering, here are a few of the logistics that you will need to think about:


The first thing that you will need to do is to think about if there is enough room for your cat. After all, it is cruel to keep them confined to a too-small dorm room, just so that you won’t miss them. Your cat needs to have enough room to move around and play.

Don’t just think about how much room your cat will have with only the beds in your dorm. Keep in mind that you and your roommate are going to be stocking quite a bit into your room. Thus, you should make this decision only after your room has been fully outfitted.

Also, is there a dedicated space for your cats litter box? If the room is quite small, it may not be hygienic for you to keep a litter box in there with you. And, if you do have a bathroom attached to your dorm room, make sure that it is accessible to your cat whenever they need it.


Here’s the deal – cats aren’t cheap and most college students are on a budget. Therefore, you need to think about whether or not you can afford to keep a cat with you. Remember, it isn’t just about food and litter. You also need to factor in toys, vet visits, medications, and vaccinations. Be certain that you can handle all of these expenses.


You should also think about how your cat will fare in the environment of your college dorm. For instance, if your cat is meek, shy, and easily startled, then they may not necessarily enjoy living in a university dorm. All the noise and people are sure to upset them. On the other hand, if your cat is outgoing and adventurous, they just might love it!

Restrictions for You or Your Cat

Cats require time and attention. It is important to consider whether this is something that you are capable of giving, particularly if you are new on campus. After all, you may want to spend your first few semesters – or your entire college experience – checking out extracurricular activities, meeting up with people, and partying.

If so, it isn’t really fair to have your cat around – for you or them! You should be free to have fun and do your own thing.  At the same time, your kitty deserves all the attention that they require.

Prepare the Space

If you have decided that keeping a cat in your dorm is a good idea, you will need to prepare the space. First, make sure that they have a dedicated area to eat, sleep, and use their litter box. This will allow them to ease into their surroundings a little bit more easily.

Check that your kitty has various ways to keep themselves occupied. This can be toys, puzzle toys, or anything else that they enjoy doing. They will then be less likely to exhibit negative behaviors while you are away.

Make it a point to keep your windows and doors closed so that your kitty won’t be tempted to escape. Also, make sure to groom them properly and to dust and clean on a regular basis to prevent a build-up of fur and dander.

If your university allows it, try to take your cat on a walk – on leash, of course, on a regular basis. This will help them to get the exercise they need and provide some variety to their environment. Just make sure to only take them to spaces that they are comfortable with.

There you have it – you can technically keep a cat in your dorm room, but this can change from one university to another. Even if you are allowed a feline companion, make sure that this is the right decision for you as well as them.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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