Pets | { 8 MIN READ | 2020-01-13

Did you know that in Canada, 45% of renters have pets (one of the many reasons we're pet friendly)? Of that, 27% have cats and 19% dogs. 

Cats make amazing pets and companions. They’re loyal, playful and low-maintenance, not to mention fit right into your busy lifestyle. Here are 5 tips to help make your feline friend feel more comfortable in your apartment.

Tip 1: Cat-proof your apartment

cat standing on a couch in an apartment

Photo by Amber Renae on Unsplash

Becoming a cat parent starts way before you bring your furry friend home. You want to make sure your cat feels at home and has everything she needs before her arrival. Here are a few tips to help you out: 

  • Prepare a safe room. Emphasis on room because cats can be sensitive, especially to new surroundings. By starting off with a small space, your cat will feel safer, faster. 
    • When choosing a room, pick one that’s small and cozy with a secure door. In an apartment, you may not have many options – but a closet, bathroom or your bedroom should do the trick. Just make sure it’s a quiet part of your home.
    • What should be in the safe room?
      • Place food and water bowls on one side of the room and a clean litter box on the other side. Make sure the litter box is in a private space, your cat will appreciate it. 
      • Put at least one sturdy scratching post in the room. A healthy cat is one that can relieve all of their scratching urges. Having a designated area for scratching will keep your furniture in good shape, too. 
      • Add a comfortable bed. Whether you decide to buy a small cat basket or make one using a small cardboard box, ensure it’s a warm and cozy place for your cat to lounge or nap in. 
  • Remove breakables and harmful items. There are some regular household items that can be dangerous for pets. Here’s what you should pay attention to: 
    • Remove any glasses or plates near the edges of counters (and consider storing them higher up).
    • Tuck plastic bags away and remove the handles off of paper bags.
    • Keep electrical cords, tinsel and curtain strings out of reach. Trim curtain strings to ensure they don’t attract the attention of your cat.
    • Store pharmaceuticals and household chemicals such as cleaning agents away in cabinets.
  • Did you know many plants and flowers are toxic to cats? Check out this article for a list of plants you’ll want to remove from your apartment. 
  • If you have a balcony, don’t let your cat out on it. Unless it’s completely enclosed or the cat is harnessed and leashed (and supervised at all times), they shouldn’t be going out there.  

Tip 2: Remember the power of the perch

cat resting on a piano

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Heights are your cat’s best friend. In nature, cats tend to climb up trees and find a nice branch to lounge on while keeping an eye out for predators and prey. It’s only natural that they’d want something tall in your apartment to leap up and down from. 

  • Take a look around your apartment and see what tall structures you already have. Bookshelves, cabinets and windowsills are all great places to clear off to allow your cat to takeover.
  • If you don’t want your cat on top of your furniture, there are many great cat trees available for purchase that are specially designed for your feline friends.
    • What can cat trees be used for?
      • They can be a lookout perch, jungle gym, hiding spot, or lounging bed. There are so many designs and sizes that will fit both your apartment and cat’s needs. Check out environmentally friendly options at Tuft + Paw, a Canadian company that specializes in stylish cat furniture. 
  • If you’re looking for something even simpler that takes little-to-no room up in your apartment, wall shelves might be exactly what you need.
    • These shelves are just big enough for your pet and they simply attach to the wall, providing a great perch. You can dress it up with pillows and blankets or leave it bare. It’s a great way to provide a nice comfortable spot for your furry friend without taking up any space. 

Tip 3: Create little hideouts for them

cat hiding in shelf

Photo by Izabelle Acheson on Unsplash

Hideout spaces are a must for cats, they’re like little safe havens (especially when it comes to kittens, as they can be nervous and uneasy at first). It’s best to provide one or two safe places to keep them feeling safe and comfortable in your space.

  • If you brought your cat home in a cat carrier, it’s a good idea to leave it accessible for them. Keep the door open at all times to provide the option to go in and out when they feel like it. 
    • When purchasing a cat carrier, make sure to take your space and your cat’s size into account (plus, your feline friend will likely grow). 
      • As a rule of thumb, your cat carrier should be 1.5 times larger than your pet. There are many different options to choose from, check out this article to explore options. 
    • An alternative to a cat carrier is simply a cardboard box. Find one that’s just the right size, add a blanket and cut out a door on one end for the perfect hideaway. Plus, you can put one in every room. 

Tip 4: Prevent boredom with household objects

cat on tiled floor holding stuffed toy

Photo by Manja Vitolic on Unsplash

How to keep your cat from getting bored at home? The easy answer is toys, toys, toys. This will make your cat feel more at home, but will also prevent your furniture from getting clawed up due to boredom.

There are countless toys designed specifically for cats, but did you know that household items can double as great toys too? Here are some stimulating ideas: 

  • Paper bags (without handles) and shoeboxes – purrrfect for pouncing and hiding.
  • Empty paper towel rolls – help out by starting the unwinding, and then sit back and watch your pet have fun finishing the job.
  • Ping pong and golf balls – place them in a dry bathtub or any space without large furniture and your cat will have a great time chasing after them. 
  • Soft stuffed animals – get one small enough for your cat to carry around. One with a tail and legs are very popular for playing.
  • Bird watching – one of the easiest forms of entertainment is observing nature. Get your cat to hop up on a windowsill and they’ll quickly get comfortable on their perch.
  • Puzzles – encourage your cat’s natural affinity for hunting with food puzzles. There are a few ways you can do this:
    • Place a couple of treats in a bottle or sphere container and leave the lid open for your cat to work on getting the treats out. 
    • Make it more challenging by closing the bottle or container, adding a couple of slits at the bottom and using a string to tie it up on a doorknob. As your cat gets comfortable with the height, you can start moving the container higher and higher, creating new challenges.

Tip 5: Pay close attention to behaviour 

upset cat sitting on a dining room table

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

As a cat parent, you want to protect and give your pet the best environment to thrive in. It’s only natural that your cat’s behaviour can go from relaxed to curious and excitable from day-to-day, depending on the circumstances. But when some behaviours become a pattern, it’s important to take notice and figure out what they might be stemming from. 
  • Nail biting – this can be a sign that your cat’s claws are too long, so it might be time for some trimming. This could also be a behaviour your cat displays out of boredom or anxiety. Try adding in a scratching post and see if this does the trick!
  • Chewing on plants – chewing on flowers and plants out of curiosity is a normal behaviour. It can be a sign that your cat would like greens included in their diet. 
    • Just make sure that you remove lilies and other toxic plants from your home before they move in, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
  • Eating litter – young kittens may try to eat litter out of curiosity. This shouldn’t be an issue as long as you use ingestible litter. If this behaviour happens often (especially with older cats), it may be time for a trip to the vet. 
  • Aggression – play fighting with stuffed animals and even other household cats is part of a healthy cat lifestyle. However, if your cat is displaying aggression too often, it may be a sign of anxiety or stress. 
    • Leave your cat alone in these cases, over-petting may be the cause of the aggression. Your cat will let you know when she wants to be pet. 
    • Subtle signs of aggression to look out for: dilated pupils, twitching, restless tail, sharp turns and excessive vocalizations.
  • Stress – when moving into a new apartment, make sure to pay even closer attention to your cat. They are most likely to show signs of stress and anxiety in a new environment.
    • Signs to look out for: excessive hiding, hissing, not eating or drinking enough or failure to use the litter box. Find out more stress behaviours here
The best way to make your cat feel right at home is spending quality time with them. Carve out time in your busy day and just hang out – they’ll learn to love you and their cozy home in no time.