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Dr Katrina Warren’s top tips for successful apartment living with pets

Reader’s Digest’s new regular pet columnist, Dr Katrina Warren, is an established and trusted animal expert. Her long-standing role as a presenter on hit TV show Harry’s Practice has made her a household name in Australia. Here’s what you need to know to keep your dog or cat happy in a small space.

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Reader's Digest

The key to successful living with dogs and cats in a confined space depends largely on the pet, the owner and the quality of the home environment. According to veterinarian Dr Katrina Warren, having a healthy, happy apartment pet is all about choosing the best pet for you.

Cats versus Dogs
Cats versus Dogs
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Cats can be the perfect choice for people with limited space and those who are either inactive or very busy. They are low maintenance, naturally clean, adaptable and have an endless ability to snooze. Cats make great indoor pets.
 
Dogs provide excellent companionship and motivation to exercise. However, they also have higher care needs than cats, generally require more company and may not be suitable for people who are not often at home or can’t commit time to exercise and training.
 

Small dogs aren’t always the best option for small spaces
Small dogs aren’t always the best option for small spaces
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A small size doesn’t necessarily mean ‘great for an apartment’. Some small dogs such as the terrier breeds have endless energy and need a lot of attention and exercise. Conversely, some large breeds such as Great Danes and greyhounds can be calm, require less exercise and can be well suited to apartment living. Avoid high-energy working breeds and those breeds with a naturally strong desire to bark.

Set up a suitable environment
Set up a suitable environment
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Indoor pets need things to do to keep their minds occupied and prevent boredom. Cats love high places to perch and enjoy watching the world, so provide a tall climbing tree close to a window. They’ll also need a scratching post and interactive toys and many cats enjoy chewing on a pot of cat grass.
 
For dogs, create a treasure hunt around the house with their dry kibble so that they work to find their food – this gives them a great mental workout. Most dogs enjoy interactive food-dispensing toys, which can keep them entertained for hours.
 

The ABCs of choosing a pet
The ABCs of choosing a pet
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A) Available outdoor space: If you have little or no outdoor space you need to carefully consider whether you can manage to keep a dog and satisfy its toileting requirements.
 

The ABCs of choosing a pet
The ABCs of choosing a pet
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B) Be aware how active you are: Although cats generally require little exercise, there is still a lot of variation in activity levels between breeds, and mature cats are less active than a kitten. All dogs require daily exercise but their energy levels vary widely.
 

The ABCs of choosing a pet

C) Can you spend time at home? All pets need company, but dogs more so than cats. You need to be certain that you will be able to spend plenty of time with your pet or they may become bored and develop annoying behaviours such as chewing and barking.
 

Create a pet-friendly community
Create a pet-friendly community
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If you have nice neighbours in your apartment block, then invite them for a dog walk or cat-friendly cup of tea. This may encourage them to help keep an eye out for your four-legged friend for pet-sitting or if there’s an emergency. Consider creating a pet community within your apartment block so you can all look out for each other.
 

Dr Katrina’s Top 5 Dog Breeds for Apartments
Dr Katrina’s Top 5 Dog Breeds for Apartments
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  1. Whippet
  2. Bichon
  3. Poodle
  4. Cavalier
  5. Italian Greyhound
Dr Katrina’s Top 5 Cat Breeds for Apartments
Dr Katrina’s Top 5 Cat Breeds for Apartments
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  1. Moggie
  2. Ragdoll
  3. Birman
  4. Devon Rex
  5. Persian

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