Choosing a pet that is suitable to your lifestyle is essential. Whilst living in a flat, you need to think of the lifestyle limitations, as well as the benefits of living in a flat. In order to be a responsible cat owner, you must choose a cat that you are able to care for appropriately. All animals have the right to ‘act/behave normally’ which is part of the 5 Welfare Needs which form part of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
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Indoor or outdoor?
Living in a flat means your cat will have reduced access to the outdoors. But it does not mean they can never have access. If you live on the ground floor, your cat could enter and exit via the window, although assessing the security risks associated with leaving a window open all day is important. Think about whether your cat will need to walk through communal areas in order to gain access and leave your flat because other tenants/flat owners may not appreciate cats or report you.
Choosing an indoor cat breed such as, the Sphynx, the Ragdoll, the Munchkin, is sensible. Some of these breeds are generally kept indoors due to their financial value, as they are at high risk of being stolen. Other breeds of cat are less likely to be allowed outdoors. This is because they have been genetically selected for certain temperaments or characteristics – such as hairlessness; which may not do well outdoors in our climate.
Legal and contractual problems
Many flats are leasehold and there may be set covenants in your housing contract which prevent you from getting pets. Make sure you check your contractual agreement as rehoming a pet once you have already created a strong bond will be extremely difficult for both yourself and the cat.
Hygiene and Allergies
Selecting a breed that does not moult may be sensible. Often when pets go outdoors, they will groom and brush against outdoor objects; meaning that not all of their fur accumulates within your house. Cat fur is a very common allergy amongst humans. So, whilst fur can easily be hoovered up, whether your cat moults or not may be a key factor in your decision making.
Nature or Nurture?
Sometimes, breed may not be the most important thing when deciding which cat to get… nurture may be. Choose a cat that has not been let outdoors yet. These cats are less likely to want to go outdoors and explore because they do not know what the outdoors is like. If you take on an outdoor cat and try to keep it indoors, this will be a significant change to their lifestyle and freedom; which many cats will not like.
Learn about your pet’s personality prior to committing to giving the cat a home
You want a relaxed cat who would rather stay indoors compared to outdoors. You want a cat that does not require lots of exercise. As this will be difficult despite the number of climbable objects you may purchase for your flat. Training your cat to walk on a harness can be a great way to gain exercise and expose your pet to some fresh air; whilst remaining in control of your cat’s whereabouts.
Having a toilet trained cat is a benefit, although it is not compulsory
If you adopt an adult cat, they are more likely to know how to use the litter tray, helping to keep your flat tidy. Training a cat to use a litter tray is not too difficult but it can take time. If your cat does go to the toilet in an unusual place, be sure to clean it up thoroughly quickly to remove the scent. Otherwise your cat may repeatedly go in the same, unusual place!
To conclude, many cats would be suitable to live in a flat. But sussing out which cat would be suitable based on their energy levels, behaviour and nurture is important.