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Keeping Pets in Smaller Spaces

By Dr Katrina Warren on October 26, 2012 in Other

With the correct selection, care and management it is possible to keep pets very successfully in smaller spaces and with limited or no outdoor space.

Photo: Country Style Photography

For dogs and cats, living indoors with companionship and in an enriched environment is far superior to being shut outside in a large backyard getting bored.

Pet-friendly Housing Features

Although you can make almost any space pet-friendly, there are some significant, structural housing features that can help make a space work well for pets. The following is a list of the features that potential buyers and renters might look for in a pet-friendly domicile:

• Access to outdoor areas, including communal areas
• Contained inner courtyards and atriums
• Enclosed balconies
• Tiled or wooden floors (easier to keep clean and hair-free)
• Long corridors (great for cats)
• Access to direct (but not unavoidable) sunlight
• A large common room with space for running around
• Pre-existing pet-friendly features such as cat climbing racks, doggy doors and cat-flaps. Attics with pull-down ladders make a great climbing space for agile young cats, so long as the roof cavity itself is escape proof and safe.

Tips to Help Create a Pet-friendly Space

There are a number of simple things pet owners can do to help turn any dwelling into a pet-friendly space. Here are a few that can be a great help:

• Provide a safe play-space, preferably away from fragile ornaments, where your pet can play with toys and treat balls. Plenty of pet and furniture stores stock attractive storage containers for stowing pet toys.
• Provide bedding in several locations so that your pet can change position throughout the day.
• Create an indoor garden for cats. This may be as simple as providing several potted plants (catnip and cat grass are the most popular). It’s a good idea to put a placemat beneath in case your cats tip the plants over in their enthusiasm.
• Some animals appreciate a vantage point close to a window, although dogs with territorial issues should be monitored as window views can provide too many cues for barking.
• Provide tall climbing furniture and scratching posts for cats. Pet stores and veterinary hospitals stock a range of fantastic feline furniture that provides cats with hours of fun.
• Consider enclosing your balcony with a screen so that your animal can have free access in your absence.
• Maximise incidental distractions. If your cat is transfixed by your tropical fish tank, ensure he or she can comfortably view the tank through the day – just make sure the tank is covered so that your cat doesn’t act on its desires.
• Avoid leaving dogs unsupervised with bones due to the choking hazard.