Cats are naturally independent and territorial. In an ideal world they’d be free to come and go as they pleased. Unfortunately, circumstances don’t always allow for that. If you live in an apartment where access to the outside world is limited, there are lots of ways you can make life comfy and fun for your feline friend. Here are some useful tips (in no particular order).
Scratching is a very necessary activity for cats. Along with strengthening the tendons, it helps lubricate the sheath to allow the claw to extend and retract easily. Oftentimes people think declawing is the solution, but it’s not a good idea. Cats need their claws for climbing, grooming and defense. If they were to escape for whatever reason, they’d have no way of protecting themselves without their claws.
Finding the right cat scratcher can be tricky. Just like humans, cats’ tastes also vary. A scratch surface that appeals to one may not work for another. Test out different materials, such as wound rope, upholstery or hessian to see what works best. Another thing to keep in mind is that some cats might prefer to have their scratch pad flat on the floor, while others might enjoy an upright position.
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Indoor Cat Garden
Cats need access to grass as it helps their digestive system. I’ve also yet to meet a cat who doesn’t enjoy catnip. Creating an indoor garden for your kitty takes a little planning and forethought, but it will be well worth the effort. If they have easy access to their own plants they’ll be less inclined to mess around in yours (maybe).
Cat Litter Trays
Cat trays need to be cleaned twice a day (morning and evening). This means scooping out the poop and giving the litter a thorough stir to break up any lumps. The litter should be changed a minimum of once a week, although twice a week is preferable. This will make for a more pleasant toilet experience for your cat and reduce the potential for smells and hygiene issues.
If you have more than one cat, you need to have one tray per cat. They may not necessarily stick to separate trays, but you need that amount of litter to accommodate their business. A covered litter box is less messy, but that’s not to say your cat will agree with your argument. As with the scratchers, you might have to try more than one to find the right fit.
How Many Cats Should You Have?
The number of pets allowed in an apartment varies depending on where you live. You’ll need to enquire with your landlord to make sure the building is pet-friendly. Outside of what’s legally permitted, the rule of thumb with cats is to not have more than one per room.
This means, for example, that if you live in a one-bedroom apartment with a separate living area, you could feasibly have two cats. This way, each cat has a room to retreat to when it wants to be alone. This is not to say that if you live in an enormous home you should up the number accordingly. As Dr. Justine Lee says, there is such a thing as too many cats.
What About Entertainment?
People think that because cats spend a lot of time sleeping they don’t need toys or other energy outlets. When they have access to the outside world, cats will sleep during the day and roam their ‘hood at night.
Apartment cats don’t have this luxury, so it’s up to you as their human to create a fun environment for them to let off steam. It’s a well known fact that cats love boxes, but you could also make them a climbing wall, buy them a few toys and play their favorite music when they’re home alone.
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Unlike dogs, who enjoy having their own basket to retreat to, cats prefer deciding for themselves where they’ll take a load off. More often than not it will be somewhere less than convenient, like your wardrobe (usually on top of your favorite cashmere sweater).
Instead, put the money you would have spent on that fancy cat house into a rainy savings account. Sooner or later there’s going to be a trip to the vet, so you may as well be prepared for it. That said, if you’re set on buying your cat a bed, aim to keep it simple — such as a sleep cushion that can be easily moved to accommodate its whims.
While you can do your best to ensure your cat has all its needs met, there’s still a chance you’ll miss something. If your cat’s behavior changes, don’t just immediately assume it’s being naughty. If you pay attention, you’ll know when your cat is trying to tell you something.
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