It’s one of life’s modern dilemmas: How to reconcile your love of animals with your inner city lifestyle? More and more people are finding ways to share their lives with a pet within the constraints of their apartment or terrace. Many Australians believe pets are simply incompatible with apartment living, but if you’ve ever been to Europe -“ especially France -“ you’ll know that dogs and cats are commonplace in the densely populated areas in European cities.

Architects and developers are starting to recognise that Australians too are keen to share their lives with animals. Recent apartment developments in inner-city Sydney reflect this desire and are becoming more pet-friendly. Cats and dogs are by far the most common inner-city pets and both require a certain amount of planning before they come to stay.

One of the most important considerations when acquiring a cat is proximity to busy roads. Cats are not known for their road sense. They enjoy a level of autonomy and freedom and may not appreciate being locked inside a house all day, but letting them roam free also puts local birdlife at risk. One way to get around these issues is to install a cat run in your backyard or on your balcony. This gives your moggie an outdoor space to run around in, safely spy on birds from, and get some fresh air without risking their safety on nearby roads. You can buy custom-made timber and wire mesh runs from around $400 including installation, or have a go at building your own. An ideal solution is to build it directly next to an exterior wall and install a cat flap so the cat can go in and out at his or her own leisure.

If your cat has to be housebound, make sure you supply lots of interesting toys, scratching poles and climbing opportunities to prevent boredom.

Dogs are another issue altogether. The most important consideration with a dog is the home’s proximity to open space. Most dogs need lots of exercise and if you don’t have a decent-sized backyard daily walks to the park will provide the dog with the outlet he or she needs. Walking along city streets is better than nothing, but a big park where they can be let off the leash is much better for doggy’s psychological wellbeing.

Other things to consider are areas within your apartment that your pet can call its own. A specified place for a bed, food and water bowls and toys will make a pet feel at home and -“ especially in smaller apartments -“ ensures that your pet doesn’t take over your precious space.

The most important consideration is your pet’s happiness, and with a little forethought and discipline all of you can live in harmony even in the smallest of apartments.

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