Cats in the city

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A large portion of South Africans live in complexes and townhouses these days. Our cats might not all appreciate the smaller spaces. If you already live in a complex and want to buy a cat, or if you are moving to a complex with your current cats, here are some guidelines for the ideal breeds for townhouses and ways to keep your indoor cats happy.

Choose an appropriate breed

Persians make great apartment cats
Persians make great apartment cats

There are some breeds that are more suited to confined spaces. One of them is the Persian. Persians are known for their long, flowing coats and wide open faces. Typically of a sweet disposition, they generally settle down well into most homes. Because they are such special treasures, it is best to keep your Persians inside – that’s why complex or townhouse living suits them so well. Due to the nature of their coats it is necessary to groom these cats every day, as knots and tangles develop easily.

For those of you who like Persians, but don’t feel up to grooming one every day, there is the option of ‘The Lazy Man’s Persian’, the Exotic. Exotics are bred to meet the Persian standard in every way, with one very special exception: this cat has a plush, short coat unique to the breed, which gives them a soft, rounded, teddy bear look. These cats make lovable, loyal pets and thrive on apartment-style living.

Other breeds that are usually happy to stay indoors include the Colourpoint, Chinchilla, Russian, Birman, Sphynx, Ragdoll, Munchkin, Japanese Bobtail, Scottish Fold, Devon and Cornish Rex. Important though to remember is that most breeds will do well indoors if they are kept inside from an early age, well-socialised and are constantly stimulated and given much attention.

Too active for city life

Cats who are not recommended for townhouse living include active breeds such as the Abyssinian, Bengal, Somali, Norwegian Forest and Turkish Van. They also generally prefer more expansive living quarters. When restricted to a confined area, these cats can become destructive and frustrated. They might take to roaming, and the chances of being run over by cars are greatly increased.

‘Complex’ laws

A somewhat emotive issue that is attracting interest is the question of whether or not animals are allowed in complexes. Peter Nathan, a sectional title consultant explains. “A person can only keep pets with permission of the trustees, ‘Permission of which cannot be unreasonably withheld’. Certain conditions are then laid down. If a resident does not abide by these conditions, permission can be withdrawn and a pet can be removed.” An example of a rule is that pets who reside with residents at the time can remain; however, once they have passed away, they cannot be replaced.”

The main reason such rules are in place is because people tend to not consider their neighbours. Complexes experience continual problems because people ignore the rules and don’t control their animals appropriately. Complexes often encounter more animal problems with tenants than with resident owners. Sometimes tenants move in but haven’t been informed of the rules. They bring their five dogs and 10 cats and obviously this creates a big problem for all parties concerned.

Keep them busy

Even the most laid-back townhouse cat requires some sort of stimulation. It is important for confined cats to be active and stimulated because destructive tendencies as well as obesity could ensue. You can provide for your cat’s needs through ‘environmental enrichment’, which will satisfy your cat’s desire to interact with her environment.

Time to play!

Small, fast-moving objects trigger the typical chase response in kittens. Most mature cats will continue to display this behaviour later on if correctly stimulated as kittens. Small balls and items such as scrunched up pieces of newspaper will induce this response. Scratching posts provide a necessary release for claw-sharpening, and exercise muscles. Providing cat toys and taking time out to play with your cat will also keep her happy.

Cat haven

Improve your cat's indoor life with a stimulating environment
Improve your cat’s indoor life with a stimulating environment

If you are lucky enough to have your own garden in your complex, this can also be transformed into a cat’s delight. Planting cat-friendly plants, such as catnip and catmint, and giving cats their own space will help your cat feel like she still has her own ‘territory’.

Don’t forget that the garden should have exposure to sunlight. You will not be popular if you relegate your cat to an icy corner. Be sure to leave a patch of sand for rolling and digging.

Finally, cats like to nibble on grass occasionally, so perhaps include some nice grassy plants for munching, ensuring of course that they are not toxic to cats. Then sit back, relax, and watch your cats enjoy their own outdoor space.

Text: Jackie Gray

The full article appears in the May issue of AnimalTalk. 


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