So you’ve decided to bring a cat into your apartment. That’s great! Many apartment dwellers choose cats because they don’t have to be taken outside, they don’t have to be walked (in fact, every cat I’ve ever known would prefer NOT to be walked), and they can be left alone during the day without any serious issues. As long as they have their litter box, cat food, water, and a scratching post, you can go to work and not worry that you will come home to chewed-up shoes and a puddle in the kitchen.
Before you bring a cat into your place, take some time to be sure a cat is the right pet for you. Read up on the care your new cat will require, research breeds, think about the items you will need, and find a vet. It is also a good idea to check with your apartment manager about their pet policy. Make sure that you will be able to afford any additional monthly pet fees – in addition to vet bills, cat food costs, and kitty litter. Once you are sure you can afford to care for your new kitty, consider your time … no, cats don’t require the same care as a dog, but they do need plenty of playtime and affection. You’ll also need to set aside some grooming time – mainly brushing -- if you want to keep shedding to a minimum and prevent the frequent appearance of hairballs.
So you have the budget and the time to bring a cat into your apartment – now what? Decide whether you want a kitten or a full-grown cat. Consider visiting some rescue shelters and adopting a kitty there. There are also breed-specific rescue groups if you want a pure-bred cat. If you decide you would prefer going to a breeder, be sure to find a reputable one.
Armed with knowledge about all things feline, you walk into a shelter and fall in love with an adorable kitten. You get the essentials – cat food, litter box, litter, food and water dishes – now what? Your cat will also need toys. Cats get bored very quickly (much faster than dogs do), so it is important to have a good selection of toys. Put some in a basket and put them away. After your cat has played with his toys for a while, swap them with the ones in the basket. This way, he always has “new” toys without you having to spend too much time (and money) at the pet store.
Your kitten will also need to scratch. If you don’t provide him with a safe scratching place, he will find his own – your coffee table, the wall, your bookcase … If you don’t want to purchase a scratching post, you can make one yourself with some carpet remnants (your local home improvement store should have some on hand) and some wood. You’ll need a large square sheet of plywood for the base (large enough to support the weight of your cat if he decides the top of the post is a great place to hang out), and boards to attach to the base. Wrap the boards with the carpet scraps and add a little catnip to the top so your cat will be drawn to the scratching post.
Cats also like to climb. It is natural for them to want to be up high, so don’t try to banish this instinct. Give them a safe place to climb by giving them cat shelves – they can be fancy and decorative, or they can be utilitarian. You can make some yourself with some boards, carpet remnants, and brackets – sort of like floating shelves. Stagger them in height and distance so the cat can jump from one to the other. Be sure to secure them properly so they can handle your cat’s weight.
Don’t worry if your apartment cat will be strictly an indoor cat. As long as he has a sunny window to stretch out under, he won’t mind a bit. You also don’t have to worry that your apartment is too small – cats will do fine in a small space as long as they can climb and scratch. If you have a patio or balcony, ask your property manager if you can screen it in – this way, your cat can take advantage of the space safely.
Adopting a pet is a commitment. As long as you’ve considered everything that comes along with adding a new member to your family, your relationship with your cat will be purrr-fect.