Saturday, June 7, 2014

A New Tiny Roommate: Welcoming The Cat To A Tiny Apartment

Growing up, we had a couple family cats in our house; Agatha was my brother's, Linus is my Mum's, and my Dad and I had shared custody of Puddy. Puddy was unique in how amazingly absurd he was, and when he passed away a year and a half ago, it was hard losing a friend of 16 years who made such an impression on me while growing up. Needless to say, I was raised as a cat person, and for a long time now I've wanted that presence in my home again. Kyle wasn't wild about cats, and the apartment was too small for the two of us as it was, so I never took the opportunity. When I knew I would be living on my own, I thought about getting a cat of my own. It was on my moving day when my Dad casually said "You want a cat?"

My main hesitation came after I cat-sat my friend Liz's kitten. I'd always thought I'd want a kitten, to make him my own, but after that weekend of neuroses I knew I was in no way fit to parent a hyper, furry child by myself. So this worked perfectly; a former coworker of my Dad's was looking to get rid of their long-hair, black adult cat due to allergies and some poor behaviour. Rather than banish him to a shelter (where black cats have a low adoption rate), or worse, who was I to turn down a beauty like this?

Meet my new roommate, Indy (or Henry Jones Jr. as you may formally know him). Luckily, his behavioural problems seem to have been left behind, so he's been a perfect roommate. Be nice if he did some dishes once in a while though.

In honour of the new arrival, I wanted to do some quick tips on bringing a feline addition to a tiny apartment.

1. Invest in the good litter
How many times have you walked into someone's house and immediately known they had a cat? Even if the litter is clean, a smell always lingers. It might seem easy to just get the 30kg bag of the cheap stuff, but the bottom line is a few more bucks can go a long way to keep your home smelling like it's not a kennel. Through an Arm & Hammer media event I attended a couple years ago, I was given a coupon for a free box of Arm & Hammer Ultra Last litter and gave it to my family since they had two cats at the time. They haven't gone back since and I've started using it for Indy and already had several comments about how there isn't even a hint of cat smell here. It's coated in baking soda so it stops the smell regardless of whether or not it's been scooped. If it's the money you're worried about, think of how many scoops you'll be able to get out of one change. Indy's been here for about 3 weeks now and I've yet to do a full change of litter; just two scoops and one top-up and still no smell.

2. Match your cat to your belongings (or vice versa)
It seems ridiculous, yes, but unless you have your heart set on a particular cat or a particular breed, it doesn't hurt. This occurred to me when I was at someone's house a few months ago and they remarked on their white cat with the black shag carpet. Having lived with Linus (a large, fluffy, orange long-hair), I knew that I wanted a cat whose hair might at least kind of blend if nothing else. I'd always wanted a black cat, but it became necessary when I found out Indy was long-hair. He sheds. A lot. But it's actually not that noticeable thanks to hardwood floors and dark wood and black furniture.
If you already have the cat, the next time you're looking for new furniture, maybe just think about colour co-ordinating.

3. Nothing is safe
Since there's less room to run around than a house, I've had to compromise on where some knick-knacks live. Candles that sat centred on the bathroom windowsill now sit on either side so the cat can sit there. The watering can had to move from a window to the radiator so he could climb up easier. Basically all my belongings that sat on top of my bookshelf have been re-homed elsewhere because that's HIS spot. It won't take long to realize that some areas are sacred to him, and if you don't realize it, he'll wail at you until you figure out that you've put a photo on top of the toilet so now he can't hop onto the windowsill anymore.

Good thing he's pretty.

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