Apartment pets are on the rise. With changes in strata laws and the increasing urbanisation of society, more and more people living in units, apartments and townhouses are considering sharing their lives with an animal companion. There are considerations owners can make to ensure they and their cat live the happiest lives possible.
Choose your apartment carefully
Check that cats are permitted within your residence. You may also need to check which type of cat you are allowed and how many, if you intend to own more than one.
Consider whether outdoor space, either private or communal, is important to you. If you have a balcony, check that your cat is safe and cannot jump off or fall. In ground floor apartments or townhouses you may need to check that your pet is secure within the garden.
Choose your cat carefully
If your cat will spend a lot of time within your apartment, then smaller or less active cats may be more appropriate. Consider also adopting an adult cat rather than a kitten. Take the Purina Breed selector tool to help you decide what cat is right for you.
Cat’s eye view
Consider your apartment from your cat’s viewpoint. Get down on your hands and knees and view your unit from your cat's angle. Are there places to sleep; to get up high and feel safe; toys to play with; a place to eat; a private spot to toilet?
Room with a view
Most cats enjoy a view of the world around them so provide them with a window ledge or a table next to your window to look out. Be aware however, that disturbances outside may cause cats to become stressed.
Views can also be internal. Cats like to sit up high and watch life within their home so provide shelves, sills, table and/or bench tops for them to have a ‘high rise’ option.
Cats often enjoy a sunny spot to snooze, especially in winter. In summer, however, you may need to block the sun’s entry into your apartment as temperature can quickly soar. Ventilation may also be needed but ensure that open windows are not escape routes!
Cats need access to a toilet area. This may be a litter tray or a specially designated toileting area on a balcony or in a bathroom. Ensure that your cat is able to reach their toilet at all times and that you keep it as clean as possible.
Fun and games
Cats like to play, especially those that are kept indoors so you must provide a range of toys for their amusement and to prevent any destructive behaviour. Rotate toys around to keep your cat’s interest and ensure you interact with your cat when you are home. Keeping your pet occupied and amused will help reduce any potential behaviour issues such as boredom, anxiety and noise.
Your cat’s behaviour may impact your neighbours, especially if your cat is extremely active or noisy! If you take your ca outdoors, ensure that you move them through the communal areas with care so that no stress, fear or mess results for your neighbours. Also consider how you would remove your pet should the unlikely scenario of an emergency evacuation arise.
If you are friendly with your neighbours, introduce your cat to them. Pets are a great conversation starter and your neighbours may appreciate having contact with a companion animal. They may even be able to feed your cat or provide holiday care. They may also be able to alert you if your pet is causing any problems in your absence. You never know – you may even be able to set up a pet community within your apartment block.
About Dr Joanne Righetti
Dr Jo Righetti is an animal behaviourist, educating people in all aspects of the human–animal relationship. Her background is in zoology, with a PhD in animal behaviour and a counselling diploma – qualifications which enable her to work with all sorts of animals – including the human variety! Joanne likes to help pet owners understand their pet's behaviour and solve any pet behaviour problems. She consults with vet clinics, organisations, companies, councils, universities and media and is a regular guest on radio, with pet behaviour Q&As. Jo has also written a number of pet behaviour books and loves chatting to people on social media channels. Jo lives with a dog and 4 cats, as well as 3 sons and a husband. Find out more about Joanne at www.petproblemsolved.com.au.