How to Deal with Your Roommate’s Pet

Cat dog in apartment kitchen sitting on a spilled trash can, giving each other a high-five.


So, you have a roommate and that roommate comes with baggage. Not just any baggage, like bulky furniture, or a propensity to leave dishes in the sink, or a plethora of knitting materials. No, it’s something a lot more lively and furry, and it might chew up your shoes.

Now, if it’s a fish or lizard, you probably won’t be coming into contact with the pet too much. But if it’s a cat or dog, whether you’re an animal lover or not, sometimes a furry friend can come between you and your roommate.

Here are 5 ways to deal with your roommate’s pet:

1) Set Clear Boundaries

There are probably areas (like your bedroom) that you don’t want a pet poking in. Maybe there’s a certain armchair that you love that you’d rather not get marked by claws.

This is all easily avoided by having a calm, friendly, and firm conversation with your roommate about what’s off-limits to their pets. Lay down some ground rules and stick by them by. Otherwise, you might wake up one morning and step on a furball.

2) Make The Apartment Pet-Friendly

Locking doors, pet-proofing cabinets, not leaving food lying around – these are just common sense steps for making life easier when living with a pet. Cats and dogs don’t mean to get into trouble: they just make it happen. In your purse. In the bathroom. In an open drawer. Making the environment safe for and from a pet will keep tensions down at home.

3) Decide How Much You Want to Help

Having a pet is a hard but rewarding experience, but if it’s not your pet, it can sometimes seem like it’s not your problem.

Sometimes, however, being a good roommate means occasionally emptying the litter box if your roommate can’t, or taking the dog for a quick walk. Still, if you’re not a pet person, you shouldn’t force yourself to do something you don’t like/aren’t comfortable with. From the start, decide if you want to give a helping hand with pet care–or if you don’t–and then make sure your roommate knows the deal.

4) Keep Up On Your Building’s Pet Policies

One day, a pet is allowed. Another day, it’s not. Be aware of what your lease says about pets and whether policies have changed. You (and your roommate) don’t want to be liable for anything. If you need to move, there are plenty of pet friendly apartments to choose from in the city.

5) That Internet Thing

If you don’t know too much about cats and dogs (or amphibians, reptiles, fish, etc.), it might be good to do a little research about their behavior. Often, our problems with animals stem from a lack of knowledge. Even annoying behaviors usually come with simple fixes. Go on Animal Planet, Wikipedia, local vet websites. Knowledge is power, so learn how to elicit purrs and tail wags instead of scratches and barks.