The Cat Flat

Share your apartment or small space with cats.

By Helen Jablonski

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Woman with cat on couch
Maximize your vertical space, cat behaviorists say, to make the most of your apartment for your cat.
City living is fabulous, and even more so when you have somebody to come home to. So, many city dwellers adopt a cat as a roommate. Better than a stranger on Craigslist, cats offer love, companionship and a body to cuddle after a long, busy day.

While you have limitless resources and places to explore in the city, your cat does not. Living in a small area means less territory for your cat to call her own. Fortunately there are ways to make the most out of feline city living.

Top Notch Ideas
Of course your cat needs a food dish, water bowl and litterbox. But cats – especially indoor cats – also need an interesting environment. The easiest way to enrich and increase the your cat's living space is by going up.

“One of the most important things that [city] people can do for cats is to maximize vertical space,” says E'Lise Christensen, DVM, a veterinary cat behaviorist at New York City Veterinary Specialists in Manhattan. “For them, it's not just about what floor area you have, but how much square footage they can exploit that goes up to the ceiling.”

You can buy cat furniture to satisfy your feline's hankering for heights, or maximize what you already have. Start by making your own furniture accessible to your cat. An empty spot at the top of your bookcase with shorter pieces of furniture positioned as steps will give your cat a high place to nap and oversee her territory, and a table next to a window allows her to see what's going on outside. The more vertical space you make available to your cat, the larger and more interesting her world will be.

If you have more than one cat living in an apartment, three dimensional space is even more important. Your cats will appreciate the ability to separate themselves vertically.

The Fun House
Now that you've maximized living space for your cat, don't forget to make your small environment interesting. Provide a variety of toys to play with, boxes and cubbies to hide in, and sunny spots for napping.

Lots of cats enjoy food dispensing toys.  These provide an outlet for a cat's energy, stimulate feline curiosity and hunting behavior, and reward efforts with tasty treats. You can also hide kibble around your apartment for your cat to find during the day.

Anything But Flat
From food puzzles and vertical hangouts to fur mice and even cat DVD's, anything you add to your home to enrich your cat's environment will make her days more interesting and enjoyable. And a happy, active cat is less likely to develop behavioral problems down the road. And that makes for a happy roommate.

At Your Fingertips
The great thing about city living is that almost anything you and your cat could need is just a phone call away. Common urban pet services include:
•    In-home cat grooming
•    House call veterinarians
•    Cat food, litter and medication delivery
•    Pet sitters and boarding facilities.
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Reader Comments

Barbara    Milwaukee, WI

7/22/2011 9:06:45 PM

I just added a kitten to my other's home, an apt. I added many new toys and rearranged the furniture somewhat to avoid some territorial problems that might pop up. thanks for the wonderful idea of access to the furniture close to the ceiling as I do have pieces I can move there to make that ceiling laying around room accessible to both!

Mario    Phoenix, AZ

7/21/2011 5:47:16 PM

Just moved out of a 4 bedroom house into a 1 bedroom apartment. I've given my cat her own space under the bathroom sink. She loves that. The other place was just too big!

Jonathan    Tucson, AZ

7/19/2011 11:52:28 PM

Great ideas but not too expensive!

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

7/19/2011 11:31:50 PM

Good advice.

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