Pets in Tight Places

Many animals are fit for small spaces
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I’ve long dreamed of owning a tiny home, the kind with multipurpose furniture, like a bed that folds up into the wall and is replaced by a desk. I’m intrigued with features like a rainwater recycler for showering and garden use, an in-kitchen compost bin and a retractable clothesline for air drying laundry. Tiny homes are highly energy efficient and force the kind of prioritizing that I like to engage in, but keeping a pet in such a small space can be difficult.

My favorite futuristic sci-fi movie, The Fifth Element, opens in the apartment of the protagonist where a fridge sinks below the floor to become a shower, the bed folds into the wall to open up more space and a weapons storage rack descends from the ceiling.

We more ordinary householders can only aspire to such easily stowed furnishings, but the protagonist and I do share a love for cats.

When living in compact environments, it is important to consider what types of pets can thrive in small spaces.

Some research on the needs of each breed will allow you to pick the perfect pet.



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Cats perform well in compact places. They love to explore spaces above cabinets, a high window or a lofted nook. Shelves serve as a strong substitute when built-in crevices don’t come preinstalled. Equip your apartment with an automatic litter box or one that separates the wet stuff from the dry stuff to drastically cut down on both maintenance and odor. A couple of toys, fresh food and water make for a feline-friendly flat.


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A saltwater or freshwater aquarium is an attractive addition to any apartment. I especially like flamboyant betta fish, classic goldfish and mystical moon jellyfish. The latter require more upkeep with weekly water changes, but they are beautiful to watch. No matter what you choose, be sure to provide an aquarium with enough space for your fish to flourish.

Hamsters, Guinea Pigs, Mice and Rats


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Hamsters, guinea pigs, mice and rats are nocturnal. If you work or go to school during traditional business hours, you’ll come home to an energetic pet just getting ready to start its day. These pets do tend to be shy until they acclimate to your abode. When first welcoming these cuddly critters, spend time handling them while remaining aware of their demeanor — give them space when they seem overwhelmed or overstimulated.

Rabbits, Chinchillas and Ferrets


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Rabbits, chinchillas and ferrets are crepuscular, which means they are most active around dawn and dusk, resting through the day and night. Rabbits and chinchillas tend toward shy behaviors until they grow to trust their humans. Ferrets make wonderful companions as they are outgoing and playful. Mischievous is an apt adjective for ferrets; they will steal things, hide your belongings and get stuck in places that they can enter but not exit. Any of these twilight treasures will thrive in your townhouse.

Dogs, birds, snakes and lizards are all possibilities


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Dogs, however, can be high maintenance. They require daily exercise and regular outdoor potty breaks before, during and after work hours. Apartment dogs require commitment and can be noisy, but they provide
a lot of love when given the right care.


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Parrots are a favorite feathered friend for small spaces and provide plenty of social interaction. Larger birds require larger cages, and birds do need regular time outside of their enclosures.


Categories: Ideas, Pets