Mr Fluffles may look like a darling kitty to you, but let’s face it – some landlords simply see a ball of shedding fur and razor-sharp, sofa-destroying claws. On top of that, some units are just plain uncomfortable for your fur kid. So if you’ve got a cat and are looking to rent a place, here are some important things you should keep in mind.
1. CONSIDER THE UPSIDES OF RENTING UNFURNISHED
Unfurnished properties provide three advantages. First, you can decorate and personalise the unit; this allows you to pick and arrange the furniture in a way that suits you and your cat. In a furnished unit, for example, you may find that heavy clutter – such as antique desks, big dining table and floor lamps – is constricting, and harder to keep clean.
Second, there’s no furniture for your cat to damage other than your own. Your landlord won’t have an excuse to keep your security deposit.
Third, unfurnished units tend to have lower rental costs than fully furnished counterparts. You’ll save money, while maintaining the flexible furniture arrangements you need.
2. MAKE THE LANDLORD AWARE THAT YOUR CAT IS NEUTERED (AND WHAT THAT MEANS)
Explain that your cat is neutered – this will reduce or prevent spraying in about 85 per cent of male cats. It also means it’s less aggressive and less likely to damage property.
Not all landlords understand this, so you’ll need to clarify this. Have the papers showing your cat was neutered on hand because some landlords will want to see some proof.
3. PROVIDE A LOT OF SCRATCHING POSTS AND TOYS
Scratching posts and toys are a diversion for your cat. While they’re clawing at these things, they’re not clawing at the furniture or walls. If there are other tenants staying in the house, remember to ask them not to move scratching posts or toys out of the cat’s reach – a bored kitty can be become a vandalising kitty.
Set up scratching posts at three main locations:
– On your cat’s route to food and water bowls
– In the cat’s sleeping areas
– In doorways
4. KEEP FINE DRAPES OR VEILS OUT OF KITTY’S WAY
If your landlord has got long curtains or drapes, be warned that these are fragile – and often favourite – playthings among pets. It may be a good idea to stash away good fabrics like silk table cloths and place them somewhere where your pet isn’t likely to roll around or rip into them.
You might also want to request if you can change the drapes (especially if these are expensive). As long as you keep these in good condition, and put these back up before you leave, most landlords won’t mind. What they’ll mind is a metre-long rip in a S$3,000 curtain.
5. REMEMBER THAT HDB DOESN’T ACTUALLY ALLOW CATS
Yes, we know people in HDB flats keep cats. But just remember it’s technically illegal, which is why most landlords won’t allow it either. Whatever the unwritten rule may be, we strongly advise you against choosing to rent in an HDB unit.
In the event someone does complain, your landlord is confined by the rule of law. Your pet has to go – and that often means losing your security deposit as you break the lease.
To be safe, we suggest you confine your rental choices to condo units. Even if the owner of a flat is okay with your cat.
6. YOU DO NOT WANT YOUR CAT DEALING WITH A PEST PROBLEM
This isn’t the 1800s, and your cat is not a solution to rat or other vermin problem. The last thing you want is for your cat to bite into a mouse encrusted in sewage filth, or some toxic bug that’s made its way in via a garbage chute. Their guts are tougher than ours, but not as tough as paying the potential vet bill.
Be wary of ground floor units; critters are more likely to crawl in, especially around the rainy reasons near December.
7. BE WARY OF HIGH UNITS WITH OPEN BALCONIES
Watch out for units with open balconies that your cat can easily climb on. Their instinct is to perch, and you might end up finding them somewhere precarious (eg, if they jump from the balcony to the aircon ledge). Condo security aren’t experts at handling these incidents so don’t expect them to come running with a ladder.
If the unit does have these features, make sure there’s a way you can prevent your cat from getting to them. You can get floating shelves or a “cat condo” inside the house, so they have somewhere else to perch, for instance.
This story first appeared in 99.co.