Tips to make your mini apartment a happy home for your cat

Tips to make your mini apartment a happy home for your cat

Concerned to find out if her cat was truly happy in their mini apartment, our collaborator found intriguing insight in a book.

January 9, 2020

I'd always wondered whether my cat ChatChat was happy within the confines of my tiny apartment, with no yard and only a minute balcony. What can I say, ChatChat? I'm not Céline Dion and this is no mansion! Watching birds through the window is always an option, but that's a bit like playing Candy Crush—it loses its appeal pretty quickly.

The happy apartment cat, written in French by veterinarian Laetitia Barlerin, is a practical guide which covers the basics of cat care—adopting a cat, cat safety and nutrition, moving and living with other animals. It also focuses on issues relating to limited space. Like me, the author seeks to answer a fundamental question: can a cat live well in an apartment?

ChatChat is almost 9 years old. We've moved a lot and have always lived in small apartments. My cat's a nomad who's truly been around the proverbial block. You may be thinking that it's a bit late in ChatChat's life to start changing her habits. And you may be right. But, from here on out, I want to make sure that her life is as comfortable and stimulating as possible.

Make time fly
Do cats suffer from claustrophobia? I recognized some of ChatChat's testy behaviour in Dr Barlerin's discussion. Claustrophobia could in fact be the source of ChatChat's boredom and the reason why she sometimes lunges at my ankles. What can you do? Dr Barlerin recommends smaller-sized meals on a more frequent basis which will help stimulate your indoor cat and keep them active.

Location, location, location
Where your cat eats is also important. Is it quiet? Accessible 24/7? Away from high-traffic areas? For added exercise, Dr Barlerin suggests moving your cat's bowl to a table or shelf that's off the floor. What a great idea! I decide to give it a try and put ChatChat's bowl up on the kitchen counter. She learns quickly, especially where food is concerned. But—amazing to watch!—ChatChat is so consumed by her food that she forgets where she is. And—bang!—next thing I know, she's flat on her back on the kitchen floor! Perhaps this piece of advice isn't right for every cat? I apologized profusely and put the bowl back on the floor (where it belongs).

After much experimenting, and with Dr Barlerin's advice, I've come to the conclusion that ChatChat does seem comfortable—even happy—in her surroundings. But I've neglected the stimulation she needs to satisfy her hunting instincts. With a few extra props and a couple of adjustments to our daily routine—more play time, toys that roll, and new nooks and crannies—I'm helping ChatChat reach new levels of indoor happiness.

Dr Laetitia Barlerin's book Un chat heureux en appartement (Rustic éditions) is currently available in French only. For more tips to enrich the life of your indoor cat, read Dr Jo Righetti's excellent article.

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