18 Tips On How to Keep a Cat in a Flat

For the past 5 years we’ve had 2 cats in our flat: Yoda & Macy Grey. Yoda, arrived from the Animal Anti-Cruelty League in Epping and was full of beans from day one. We had her for 5 years until, sadly, we had to put her down. Cue: crying for 6 weeks straight…

What Happened?

We “plant sat” the neighbour’s bonsai (neighbours who had moved in 2 weeks earlier) and it seems she ate the berries, which gave her kidney failure. Four vet trips later, no cat insurance (bye R6k) we had to make the tough decision to put her down.

After a few months of heartache and depression (just being honest, it really broke my heart) we knew there were loads of other souls out there looking for a home. This is how Macy Grey came into our lives, from the wonderful shelter: Change for a Better Foundation.

Macy Grey is just as awesome, but has a totally different personality, taste and style of living. Having two cats in the same flat definitely gave us a better sense on how to keep a cat in a flat.

18 Tips On How to Keep A Cat in a Flat

1. Get Decent Litter

I’ve tried a number of cat litters and found the following to be most useful:

Cheap Option – Marlon’s 15kg bag for R180. This will hold you out for a while with the litter disintegrating into saw dust. It’s not, however, great for flushing and isn’t as air tight as fine sand. But, on a budget, it works fairly well.

Effective OptionMarlon’s Litter Micro Crystals for R80. This fine sand works super well because it seals the poop (and it’s scent) in. It’s also super easy to flush if you want to clean the box a daily basis.

Posh Option – Voted number 1 in Europe, the Oko Cat litter is expensive, but really does work well. We don’t flush this litter, but it clumps together which makes it easy to discard. It also traps the scent because of the clumping, pretty cool. Get it from R160 online or in-store.

*We don’t recommend the stone type of litter because it neither seals in the scent nor can be flushed.

2. Get Lots of Toys

This is a weird one because not all cats like the same thing! We gave Yoda a tunnel and she instantly knew what it was and loved it. When she showed the same tunnel to Macy Grey she was clueless and ignored it for ages. We, essentially, had to teach her how to play and now she loves it!


3. Keep Water in the Bath

No matter what water I give my cats they will ALWAYS find their way back to the bath. It’s random and bizarre, but if you keep your plug in with a little bit of water then you will find it’s your kitty’s favourite.

It’s also a good habit to keep a bit of water in the bathroom sink, bath and kitchen sink on weekends away, in case they knock over their water bowl while you’re out.

4. Don’t Let Them Sleep With You

I am 100% a hypocrite here because both my cats have slept on my bed every day for 6 years! But, truthfully, it does compromise your comfort and thus quality of sleep. If you’re serious about sleeping well, consider not letting them sleep with you from day one to set the president.

5. Don’t Play On Your Bed

Oh the duvet covers I’ve had to say goodbye to, sigh. We thought it was great fun to have Yoda play “monster cat” on the bed with us, but her nails got caught in the cotton and caused threads, loops and bunches, ultimately ruining the linen. Eventually your bed looks very old and shoddy so probably best not to do this.

6. Get More Than One Scratch Pole

Kitties LOVE scratch poles and even if you have one they are likely to try scratch your bed base or couch corners. We have three and put them against the bed to distract Macy Grey from shredding the base. But if you’ve watched my stories, you will know that she still acts like Spiderman on the floor! Generally, they work very well though.

7. Get Rid of that Pee Smell with Super Spray

Simple Solution cat odor spay is an awesome for eliminating odors of cat urine. Yoda never had any accidents in the flat, but Macy Grey got into the habit of weeing on Mr John’s clothes if he left them on the floor. We have no idea why!

But it’s something you need to address quickly as it can be a long last, tough scent to get out. Simple Solution is quite pricey (R160), but totally worth it and lasts super long. (Our first bottle still isn’t finished).

8. Don’t Leave Cat Food Permanently Out

Apartment cats are already more sedentary than outdoor cats simply because they can’t climb trees or catch birds. We’ve really struggled to maintain both our cats’ weight because, when they get bored, they want to eat.

And if they’re bored, who do they turn to to entertain them? You. And as much as it is to play with a cat, sometimes you just need to get work done without being pawed the whole time.

9. Take Them To the Vet Sooner Rather Than Later

One time Yoda wasn’t eating very well. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong because when we picked her up she didn’t mind a cuddle. She didn’t eat her hard food, but loved the Frisky’s sachets – but they always do!

In an attempt not to give her too much of the cheap food, we kept the hard food. After a few days she did begin to eat again so we figured she’d just had an off few days.

When we eventually did go to the vet when poisoned (not that we knew it was that either), he said he’d found a bad tooth. I still feel guilty about that because how could I tell? I should have just taken her to the vet sooner 🙁

10. Two Bedrooms Per Cat

While we’ve only ever chosen to have one cat because we have a 1 bedroom apartment. My brother has 2 cats in a 3 bedroom apartment and this works fine. But I wouldn’t recommend getting more than 1 cat per 1.5 bedrooms because cats are territorial and they really don’t enjoy “living on top of one another” – particularly if they don’t have access to the outside world.

If you do decide to get two cats, try to get them at the same time because they’re siblings or are already used to one another. It’s much more difficult to integrate two new cats as adults.


11. Get a Girl Cat

While boy cats are known for their relaxed personalities, “toms” also like to wander, which can be difficult to manage while living in an apartment. It’s not fair to let cats wander in a block because of potential neighbour cats. (No one likes a cat crying sound.) Girl cats are still curious, but aren’t as forceful when it comes to exploring.

12. Give Them Decent Cat Food

Hills is expensive, I know, but it honestly makes their coats SO amazing and is better for them in the long run. My vet in South Africa recommends them, my vet friend in the UK recommends them. THESE PEOPLE STUDIED FOR 6 YEARS TO BE ANIMAL DOCTORS. Believe them.

We use Metabolic Weight Management for Macy Grey because she would eat the building if we let her. And we used the Fussy Cat from Royal Canin for Yoda. It honestly is best for their bodies and it also lasts longer because it keeps them satisfied.

13. Keep the Toilet Lid Shut

My friend got a kitten first and warned me that they will fall in. Of course I believed her, but I REALLY believed her with Yoda took a giant splash into the loo! Luckily, I was home and made sure she got out ok. Preferably, leave your toilet lids down at all times.

14. Don’t Let Them Play With Your Phone

I love downloading cat apps for my cats to play with – until they turned their attention to our smart TV! They will 100% jump up on the TV unit and start chasing your smart TV curser! If you don’t have a smart TV then there’s no issue with them playing on your phone (although scratches may be a concern).

15. Where To Put the Cat Box?

I remember going to a friend’s flat one night and the cat box was in the center of the lounge. The cat would arrive and poop whenever and we all just had to deal with the stench. It was NOT cool and honestly, a bit gross.

We’ve tried our cat box in a number of places. The bathroom was a logical location but whenever I bathed the cat would come and do its business which literally killed the vibe. The kitchen is another spot, but it can be unhygienic, depending on the size of the kitchen.

The balcony is a good place as it’s well ventilated, however, tucking it under a desk or behind an arm chair can be most discrete as guests do not want to look into a box of poop upon arrival.

16. Get the Fleas Before They Get You

We never had a big flea problem with Yoda. But, but my goodness, Macy Grey was a whole other story. She had no fleas for about 6 months and then all of a sudden they just exploded! We started to fight them with various flea muti’s including capstar (twice), but the only medicine that really seemed to work long term was the Advantage.

Eventually we bombed the apartment with this awesome flea home spray called Ultrum Duration Tick & Flea (R160) that worked a charm – except we had to do it twice. I still can’t believe how they took over when we were so active, so – DO NOT WAIT! Get the fleas before they get you.

17. Get a Deep Cat Litter Box

Do NOT use a beer box or the like. Get a box with high sides so that you don’t constantly have to sweep your kitchen floor as they scratch in their litter box. I’ve found Mambo’s Plastic Warehouse has had the most affordable plastic cat boxes and cat carries from R300 to R700.

18. Give Them Super Grass

You’ll have to check each and every plant you bring into your home because A LOT of plants are toxic to cats. A way to include some “greenery” into their diet is to buy Super Grass for cats from Takealot. It’s only about R25 per box, grows in 4 – 5 days and is a nice addition to their diets.

Love Thy Cats

My family is totally and utterly cat smitten so I really hope these tips help you! If you have a kitty, feel free to post an image on the feedback share of this post. Cats of the world unite! 😀

RIP Yoda Moshington Sproat


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