As small-space living becomes more common in cities throughout Australia, we should consider the impact this style of housing can have on our fur-kids.
It may present some challenges, but a bit of preparation, organisation and creativity can go a long way to ensuring your pet is happy and healthy in a smaller space.
Guest post – Jessica Tanner, Pawshake
Rethinking your space
A smaller space will likely mean less storage and less ‘stuff’ in general, so a cleansing purge of those unwanted items can be a positive first step! You might want to consider downsizing your furniture or purchasing furnishings that can fold away or that include storage (such as fold-out tables and beds with storage drawers).
This is your pet’s territory too, so give them a spot that is theirs alone – whether it’s a basket, climbing tree, box or big cushion. There are some beautifully designed pet products out there, so there’s no reason Fido’s basket can’t match your décor! It’s worth considering some stimulating features for around the house, such as climbing trees, fold-able tunnels and mountable climbing shelves for your cat.
Stay on top of the cleaning
It’s a great idea to do little cleans more frequently if you have a pet that sheds their fur, and factor in regular a wash, vacuum and air out of their bedding. This will save you from a smelly, fluff-filled home and the stress of having to pencil in those massive, back-breaking house cleans.
On a similar note, if you own a smaller pet such as a bird, fish or rabbit, it’s well worth keeping on top of replacing their bedding and freshening up their tanks and enclosures – your home will smell fresher for it and your pet will be far more comfortable and healthy!
If your pet uses a litter tray or indoor pet toilet, disinfect and wash it out as regularly as possible (disposable wipes are a handy hack!) and be sure to purchase a good-quality litter deodoriser.
A happy pet is a healthy pet
This is even more essential for a pet living in close quarters! Make sure you are up-to-date with all vaccinations and flea treatments if you own a cat or dog, and keep them well-groomed.
Speak with your vet about a high-quality diet for your pet’s size, weight, breed and temperament. Remember that you are what you eat, and choosing the ideal pet-food for your fur-kid will keep them happy, full of energy and less smelly.
Exercise and stimulation
This presents one of the bigger challenges of apartment living with a pet, but it’s important for your pet’s health and happiness to schedule in regular exercise. Destructive habits such as excessive barking, scratching, chewing and aggression in your pet are usually signs of frustration and boredom. Exercise will not only prevent this frustration by keeping your pet stimulated and happy, it will also keep their weight down and encourage them to sleep soundly.
Schedule daily playtime for cats and walks for dogs at least twice a day. Your pet’s metabolism will also become more regular with a solid routine, with the added benefit of teaching your dog to go to the toilet outside during walkies (don’t forget the poop bags!). Visit your local dog park or dog beach where your pooch can make new furry friends, but be sure they’re well trained to return to you when called.
Like the wild cats in the zoo, domestic cats love a variety of stimulating experiences, so mix up the cat toys! There’s no need to spend a fortune, as ‘toys’ can include items found throughout the house such as cardboard boxes, feathers and string. Add some cat grass into the mix and investigate options for enclosures on your balcony or courtyard if this is a possibility.
If you consistently work long hours, it’s well worth asking a friend or pet-sitter to drop in to walk your dog or play with your cat during the day. Your pet’s happiness is worth it!
The best pets for small-space living
Generally speaking, smaller critters such as guinea pigs, ferrets, hermit crabs, rabbits, mice, fish and birds are more suited to small apartment living as they require less space to be healthy and content.
Cats are often perceived to be low-maintenance but of course still require stimulation, exercise and care, so if you’re planning on getting a cat it’s worth taking this into account beforehand.
Dogs are incredibly social and require substantial exercise and attention, so never take the decision to adopt a dog lightly. Each breed and temperament can vary, and sometimes smaller breeds require more space than more docile larger breeds.
Spend plenty of time researching and asking lots of questions before adopting to ensure you and your fur baby are in it for the long run.