Pets are incredible companions, and many of us would love to have them.
But if you’re living in a smaller space, it’s important that you consider the physical and psychological needs of the animal as well as yourself.
We asked RSPCA Australia’s Communications and Campaigns Manager Elise Meakin for some advice on which pets can be more suited to small spaces – and how to keep them happy in their home.
Here are some suggestions:
If you’re downsizing your home or getting a dog or puppy for the first time, it’s important to provide them with daily exercise outside, along with lots of company and attention.
Dogs need a clean, comfortable, safe and secure area, with space to move around. Ensure your dog has regular toileting opportunities. They’ll need bedding and toys for comfort and stimulation, especially when you’re not home.
Cats and kittens need enrichment, so make sure they have scratching posts, climbing spaces, toys and sleeping and hiding spots. They also need exercise. It may sound strange, but most cats can actually be walked using a harness and a leash.
If you’re thinking of getting a cat or kitten, consider buying two cats together so they can keep each other company (for example siblings, kittens of similar age, or any two cats that are known to get along).
Even in a smaller area, each cat will need their own water/food bowls and it’s a good idea to provide several litter trays.
The RSPCA encourages keeping your cat contained to the property’s boundary from dusk until dawn as a minimum. This allows for owners and cats to interact, reduces the impact of hunting and disturbance to neighbours and can protect them from disease and injuries caused by fighting and accidents.
Creating an outdoor escape-proof enclosure is a great idea too.
Guinea pigs and rabbits need plenty of space and daily supervised exercise outside their cage. They should also have regular access to an outdoor, grassed area so they can exercise and explore.
Fish can make perfect pets for small spaces.
Make sure you have an appropriate aquarium set up with proper filtration, temperature control, aeration and maintenance of water quality. They need plenty of space, plants and interesting things to swim in and out of.
It’s important to consider what will happen to your pet if you need to move again.
Many properties and complexes have rules that do not allow animals, so it’s important you take this into account before getting a pet.
Researching any local laws that apply is essential. If you’re moving, be sure to look around the new property for plants or items that may be toxic to your pet to help keep them safe.
Many animals are taken to the RSPCA each year as a result of properties not allowing pets. If you’re leasing a property, please consider allowing pets (if appropriate), to help ensure pets can stay with their owners.
Finally, speak to your local RSPCA or vet if you have any questions about caring for your pet.