It’s a conversation you may have had a million times with your partner, housemate or even yourself: “Let’s get a pet! But wait, we live in an apartment. No pet, I guess?”
But according to Dr Hay In Chung, vet operations manager at PETstock, apartment-living doesn’t necessarily mean pet ownership is off the table. You just need to think carefully about the environment and the type of pet.
Here are the ways we can make apartment living easier for our pets.
Enrol in pet school
When you’re keeping a pet – particularly the four-legged variety – in an apartment and don’t have immediate access to outdoors, behaviour is an important consideration. In this case, properly house-breaking your pet is key.
“We really need to ensure training takes place as early as possible,” Dr Chung says. “It may be more of an issue with puppies as they won’t use litter trays like kittens. Enrolling in puppy school as soon as you can would be your starting point.”
Eliminate escape routes
Dr Chung says one of the biggest risks to cats in apartments is the building height. Cats are eager explorers and, if your apartment is above the ground floor, your kitty may look for a way to venture outside, through the balcony or the windows of your flat.
“Cats are normally very good apartment pets,” Dr Chung says. “But, especially when it comes to kittens, we need to make sure their access to the verandah or the window, where they can possibly get injured or fall from the building, is all closed off.”
Dr Chung recommends providing enough safe stimulation inside for your cat, so they don’t go looking for fun elsewhere.
Just like humans, pets tend to become bored when they’re cooped up inside without anything to keep them occupied. Dr Chung tells us one of the most important parts of keeping an apartment-dwelling pet happy – especially if you’re headed to work for the day – is “environment enrichment”.
“Make sure your cat has its scratching pole and something like a Feliway Diffuser (a diffuser that soothes cats by mimicking their pheromones) nearby to make sure they’re relaxed while getting used to a new place,” says Dr Chung.
Dr Chung is a fan of interactive toys for cats and dogs, such as Kongs, which dispenses treats while your pet plays with them. These toys are also likely to reduce the chance of your dog barking when they’re home alone. There are also other techniques you can apply to overly boisterous pups – such as taking them for a big walk in the morning to tire them out. Find some more tips here.
Even the best-trained pets need some time outdoors – especially dogs. Dr Chung cautions dog owners not to neglect exercise time.
She says it’s easy to forget smaller dogs also need exercise, though often not as much. “Their exercise demands are not as high as larger pets,” she says. “So taking them out when you’re going to the coffee shop, or for a small walk to the toilet, may be sufficient.” Naturally, bigger pooches need the most exercise and, Dr Chung adds, “It’s important you take them outside at least twice a day, at least for a full half an hour.”
Cat owners needn’t spend as much time on walks and exercise – though some kitties may wish to explore the outdoors. “If you want to train them to wear a harness, and walk outside, you can,” she says.
In short: to keep a pet happy in an apartment, it’s important to do a little pre-planning before you take your furry friend home for the first time.
This article was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Petstock.