Living Spaces for Cats and Dogs


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What Cats and Dogs Need Every Day

 

1. Living Spaces for Dogs

As a pet, dogs need their own space to rest and run. A bed that is large enough to allow them to lie flat on their side is usually sufficient for sleeping. Comfortable and appropriate spaces can be set aside in rooms like a kitchen, laundry room or large hallway. Even large dogs, such as collies or retrievers, can live in smaller homes as long as they are looked after properly. In the same way, even small dogs can cause problems in large homes if they are not cared for. 

Exercise is important for three main reasons. 

  • First, it allows the dog to keep physically fit. 
  • Second, it provides the dog with stimulation and enrichment – walks in the neighbourhood can also help socialize a dog. 
  • Third, it provides the dog with opportunities to toilet on a consistent basis. 

Dogs also love to sleep. Most of them can sleep for about 14-18 hours a day depending on age and breed. 

Like people, dogs need to sleep where they feel safe and comfortable. Some dog owners allow their dogs to sleep on the bed with them. If you want your dog to sleep in a specific place, plan to train your dog to sleep there right from the start. Dogs don’t need to have expensive dog beds, but they do need to have a place to sleep that is clean and comfortable. Puppies can sleep on folded up towels or even old clothes. 

A dog house or kennel should have enough room to allow the dog to sit up and stand without hunching. A dog who sleeps outside in a doghouse will need clean, dry straw and blankets to keep warm at night.

A dog needs their own space and lots of sleep and exercise to fulfill their physical and psychological needs. 


Icon of a checklist itemChecklist for Dog Housing

The following list of general guidelines provides one view of what a “good” living space or housing structure should consider for a dog. 

Housing and living spaces should incorporate the following desirable characteristics:

  • Enough space for activity, rest or sleep, defecation and stimulation of a wide range of normal behaviours 
  • Sufficient space so the dog can have privacy and quiet 
  • A location that provides interest and choices for the dog 
  • Objects to chew
  • Toys for activities and play 
  • Choices of varied light, temperatures and noise levels 
  • A warm, dry and draft-free area for resting or sleeping
  • Be aware of dogs’ temperaments before housing them together 
  • In hot weather, keep females separate from males

Housing and living spaces for outdoor dogs: 

  • Shelter and protection from the elements
  • A stand-alone shelter such as a dog house accessible to dogs at all times
  • Shelter consists of a solid roof and walls that are tall enough to allow the dog to stand up and turn around comfortably and a solid floor constructed in such a manner as to remain dry.
  • The shelter contains adequate bedding and insulation, such as straw, to keep the animals clean, dry, and warm.
  • Dogs unable to tolerate living outdoors have access to the indoors. This includes dogs that are senior, ill, or injured.
For more details on dogs housed in a kennel setting see Section 1: Animal Environment in the Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations (3rd Edition, 2018) from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. 

2. Living Spaces for Cats

Housing is a major factor for a cat’s well-being. 

Sufficient space, comfortable housing that considers physical and mental stimulation, and human contact are all important elements of good housing.  Cats need vertical spaces, which could include shelves or a cat tree. 

All cats need opportunities to play in ways that fulfill their inherent need to hunt small prey. They also need regular human interaction.

Well socialized cats that live in groups are more comfortable and less likely to become stressed if they are not housed in cages.

Most cats socialized as kittens respond well to living in a group. Poorly socialized cats can be stressed by exposure to living with another cat or in group housing. Cats are highly territorial animals and do not like intruders in their home territory. Even well socialized cats living in pairs or groups must have their own separate litter box, feeding and drinking area, and resting places. 

Although cats need a safe living space, they also like to roam freely. However, keeping a cat indoors or safely confined to a property can ensure its overall safety and health. In order to provide sufficient exercise and stimulation, training your cat to wear a harness and go on supervised outdoor adventures on a leash is a great option. 

Indoor cats, in particular, need mental and physical stimulation.


Icon of a checklist itemChecklist for Cat Housing

The following list of general guidelines provides one view of what a “good” living space or housing structure should consider for a cat. 

Housing and living spaces should incorporate the following desirable characteristics: 

  • Enough space for activity, rest or sleep, defecation and stimulation of a wide range of normal behaviours 
  • Vertical spaces for climbing/resting
  • A private, safe resting space to allow cats to retreat to feel protected
  • Toys and items that stimulate play 
  • Places to scratch 
  • Separate places to eat and drink; feeding areas can be varied to simulate a hunting environment 
  • A litter box area that is private and clean and stays in the same place and separate from food and water
  • A secured outdoor area or access to windows and natural light

For cats in multi-cat households:

  • Provide multiple feeding stations, water dishes, resting places, perches and litter trays in different locations. A good rule to follow to determine how many of each resource you need is the number of cats in your house plus 1.
  • Be aware of cats’ temperaments before housing them together. Cats housed in groups need to be watched for signs of aggression and stress. 
For more details on cats housed in a kennel setting see Section 2: Housing and Accommodation in the Code of Practice for Canadian Cattery Operations (2009) from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. 

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