Living with an indoor cat in Hong Kong & keeping Sam safe

Several people had asked me how we keep a cat in our flat in Hong Kong – given that space is so limited in Hong Kong. But it is actually not a problem. If you were to ask Sam, and he could talk, he would probably say that he is happy and there is enough room for him to roam around in our 780 square feet flat.

Sam with umbrella 2

Of course, we had to make a few adjustments to ensure he stays safe and happy. So let me share a few tips with you:

1. Secure your windows
We live on the 17th floor – and Sam love to look out of the window. Every now and then he sees a bird or insect and really gets excited, jumping up and down and hitting the glass with his paw. It is cute to watch, but I know that I need to ensure that Sam can’t fall out of the window. Therefore all our windows are locked – so he can’t accidentally jump out of the window. We use air conditioning to keep the temperature down and the humidity out and we only open the windows in the office or guest room when we really need to. In those few occasions, we close the doors to the office and guest room, so Sam can’t get in. If you do decide to open your windows, you will need to install nets/screens so your cat can’t fall out.

2. Keep cleaning liquids and medicine locked away
Unlike dogs, who tend to eat anything that doesn’t eat them first, indoor cats are usually poisoned by walking through or brushing up against a toxic substance, then ingesting it when they groom themselves. Common toxic household substances include the obvious such as bleach, paint and many household cleaners, but also bath oils, laundry detergents and even aspirin. So I just keep all these substances away from Sam and ensure that when I use them, I keep Sam in another room or carefully pack the substances away after use, making sure he doesn’t have access to it. On a similar note, store your sponges away from your cat. Sponges often retain food smells or some of the cleaning liquid, so Sam tries to chew the sponge every now and then. Now, I just keep the sponge in the drawer underneath the sink, so Sam can’t get hold of it.

3. Keep electrical cords away
Sam doesn’t like chewing on electrical cords, but the bigger problem is that he likes to play with the cords and can pull things down on himselve, risking injury or causing damage to the appliance. So we can’t leave the iron plucked in and unattended. Even the toothbrush recharges in a separate room, to which we keep the door closed, otherwise Sam will play with the charger. Most of our cords are tucked away behind the TV bank anyway.

4. Get rid of plants
Many cats seem to enjoy chewing on houseplants and Sam has been trying to get close to my orchids. So the decision was easy, I moved the orchids out of his way and ensured that I don’t have any plants that might toxic to him – because of that, I can’t have any lilies anymore. It’s a shame, but a small price to pay to ensure Sam stays happy. But if you still want to keep plants, check out which ones are safe for cats here.

Sam in February 2014

5. Open and close doors carefully
Sam likes to wait behind our front door to greet us upon arrival – it’s one of his favourite tricks and that just means I have to be very careful when opening our front door, so I don’t hit him. I also need to be quite quick to close the door again, because Sam tends to view open doors as an invitation to go through and explore what’s on the other side! There have been a few times where I have been looking for him and couldn’t find him, because he sneaked into my wardrobe when I was not paying attention… so again, when I open a door, I just need to be careful to check that Sam is not inside, before I close it again!

6. Check your appliances before using them
The refrigerator, washing machine, oven and even microwave are all exciting places for indoor cats to explore. Sam always tries to get into our fridge. So you need to pay close attention to your cat when opening and especially closing any appliance. Cats are faster than you think! Be sure to check both the washer and dryer before putting in clothes.

7. Store people food out of Sam’s reach
This is one of the hardest – Sam loves to have a sniff and is known to taste food! He is a greedy little bugger and is known to grab whole slices of toast, a boiled egg, salami or even pasta with tomato sauce. Sam doesn’t like sweets, which is a bit reassuring given that chocolate, cocoa, coffee and macadamia nuts are particularly harmful to him. However, I have to be really careful that he doesn’t grab anything that has onions or garlic in it or on it, as this is also toxic! So I try to keep most food stored out of his reach (luckily he can’t open the fridge or pull drawers) and whenever I serve food, someone has to sit at the table to chase Sam away. I often try to feed Sam just about when we are going to have our meal, but this only buys us 10 minutes of time – then Sam appears and is curious to taste our food too!

Sam in January 2014

There is no way to list everything that has the potential to cause harm to indoor cats but hopefully this list has given some idea of what to be on the look out for. This post has been approved by Sam and first ran on PetProject.hk.

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9 responses to “Living with an indoor cat in Hong Kong & keeping Sam safe

  1. All reasonable. And cute! Cats, the great low-maintenance animal. Now, how people in crowded cities with small apartments keep dogs is something I still don’t understand…

  2. Hey Blueblau. I’m taking part in a writers’ blog tour. Let me know if you’re interesting and I’ll post your bio and blog up on mine when I do it. Let me know where to leave you more info. if you fancy taking part. Cheers. :)

  3. PS. We’ve just got a puppy in our flat and much the same applies with them, though it’s true they do eat anything that comes their way! And not so much worry about jumping out of windows :)

  4. Friends of friends here In Singapore just had their cat somehow jump out the window from 8 high and it did not survive, so your protective tips and actions are very wise!

  5. Hi Bluebalu, we have one dog & three cats in HK and have never regretted getting pets ever. We want our kids to grow up with animals, as we did. We also have to be careful about plants – no poinsettias at Christmas – and feeding all of them makes dinner-time a little bit of a military exercise. Our dog is medium-sized, sheds like crazy (we thank our helper for the daily vacuum) and needs 3 walks per day. But she’s been a great reason for exploring all the hiking trails near our place!

    • We live in Discovery Bay, so it’s convenient that we have a vet located here – and luckily we’ve not had to see the vet much, except for vaccinations. Sam is a healthy little fellow and it hopes it stays that way! I know you’ve got an adorable dog, but do you also have cats?

      • DB is a great place for pets! We only have a puppy and that is about all we can handle at this point. Buddy’s health has not been so good, so we have had lots of stops at the Wanchai animal clinic. Happy Dragon Boat Festival to you!

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