Is your apartment size stopping you from getting a cat? Whether you’re adopting one or moving into a tiny flat with your cat, here are a few things you need to know.
1. Make sure your landlord is ok with cats
Your landlord must be friendly towards pets. Inform the property agent that you have a pet and ask if the owner is pet-friendly. Sometimes, it may be necessary to get yourself a dedicated property agent, who can help you find a pet-friendly unit.
Singapore’s public housing (HDB flats) have the tightest restrictions when it comes to pets. It is technically illegal to keep cats in HDB flats, but you will still see cat owners in the flats, as the law is loosely enforced until someone complains. If HDB is the only available option on your plate, then be a responsible cat owner. Keep your kitty friend indoors, get regular vet check-ups, neutered and microchipped.
It is always a good idea to befriend other fellow cat owners within the neighbourhood. Have a circle of cat parents, exchange care tips, arrange kitty playdates, and help to cat-sit when one of you is away.
2. Clean litter box regularly
In a tiny apartment, keeping the litter box clean and containing the odour is of utmost importance. Clean the litter box daily. Depending on the ventilation of your apartment, and the location of your litter box, you may want to clean twice daily.
Look for litter boxes that are designed to minimise odour. If you have to clean twice daily, invest in the Unicharm Deo Toilet Cat Litter Box (Half Cover). This litter box has been designed for easy clean-up, and it uses a zeolite and silica base to prevent unpleasant odour.
A cat litter mat is a must-have to prevent any mess on your apartment’s floor. The mat will protect your floor from litter spills and reduce litter tracking. It’s durable and easy to clean.
3. Make use of vertical space
When you don’t have a lot of floor space, go up! Install shelves on your wall that your kitty can climb and perch on. Allow your cats to hide, climb and scratch with the Pet Rebels Cheap Bastards Boston 90 Cat Tree. It doesn’t take up too much space, with a base of 30 cm x 30 cm. Standing at 90 cm tall, it allows your kitty to climb, people watch, snooze and it doubles as a scratcher too!
Bookshelves and racks are great furniture for you and kitties. They help to organise your materials, and your cats will use them as vertical playgrounds. You can create space for your cat on these shelves by putting toys or even a cat bed on one of the levels.
4. Optimising outdoor space – balcony
Thinking of creating more room for your cats? If you have a balcony, turn it into a catio!
Install cat screen around the balcony and make sure the whole balcony is enclosed to avoid escape or a potential fall. Look for screens that can be easily removed when you move out of the apartment.
You can even consider growing some cat grass and putting some non-toxic plants around the balcony. There are several easy cat grass kits that you can purchase online. Do check them out and make a small, cat-friendly indoor garden.
5. Interaction to keep kitty happy
A cat’s playtime is as important to the cat, as walking is to a dog. Do not neglect playtime. A bored cat is a frustrated, mischievous cat with pent-up energy and will be destructive inside the apartment.
Keep your cat entertained with scheduled playtime. Make playtime consistent. Be ready to spend 15 minutes for each play session, 3 sessions daily. Use a variety of toys with features that will arouse her curiosity and get her pouncing and chasing.
You may want to consider taking your cat to a playdate. Talk to a friend or neighbour with cats. They may even welcome your idea of having a regular meet-up.
6. Cat-proof the flat
Protect your valuables and keep your cats safe! Pet-proofing applies to any home wanting to keep pets, regardless of the size.
Tie up loose cables. We all have electrical appliances at home. Don’t leave the cables of appliances hanging loose. Tie them together and route them away from your cat’s sight.
Keep food/snacks away. Some human foods can be toxic to cats. Keep food items away, behind closed cabinets or in tightly lidded containers. Make sure the cabinets or storage containers cannot be easily opened. Cats are intelligent and persistent enough to open cabinets and drawers, fishing out foods and snacks.
Beware of the curtain blind cords. Cats and puppies are in danger of being strangled by the cords. These cords can intertwine and twist, forming a loop. A pet may put its head through the loop and strangle. The recommendation is to use cordless blinds or keep the cords safely tied away to avoid any unwanted accidents.
Keep detergent and other household cleaning chemicals away. Make sure they are not within the reach of your cat.
Protect your valuables. Keep them safely in locked drawers.
Cat-proof your windows. Install a sturdy, pet-safe window screen. Some screens can be easily ripped by kitties’ sharp claws. Get a pet-safe screen to prevent your indoor cat from escaping.
7. Indoor cat food
Indoor cats have less physical activity and burn fewer calories. To keep them trim and healthy, look for lower-calorie cat food that is specifically designed for their lifestyle.
It is best not to practice free-feeding as it can be difficult to manage your cat’s intake.
It is possible to keep a pet cat in a small apartment. With the right considerations and care, you can keep your cat (or cats) happy and healthy. Having more space does make things easier but it's not a deal-breaker. Many cat owners have successfully raised happy cats in small studio apartments. It is important to introduce routine playtime, mealtime and keep the litter box clean!
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.