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Gaining cats and dogs

GOOD things come in small packages, except if that small package is a tiny backyard for a large pet.

But while little or no backyard used to mean having a fluffy, four-legged friend was out of the question, pampered pooches and cats these days seldom leave the house.

The Petcare Information Advisory Service (PIAS) believes the time has come to take a look at contemporary pet ownership, and debunk the notion that owning pets means having to own a big backyard.

The organisation said inner-city residents and those with pint-sized yards should not deny themselves the love and affection of a furry friend.

A recent study has shown 53% of pets spend most of their time indoors and almost one-third of all dogs spend virtually all their time inside.

According to the PIAS, pets are generally safer and more relaxed without the need of a big backyard, and larger dogs were often quiet and calm couch potatoes.

In comparison, they said smaller dog breeds, such as the Jack Russell, could be more energetic and noisy, needing sufficient exercise to keep them content.

The most common misconception the PIAS has come across is that people could not have the type of pet they wanted if they moved to the city or a home without a yard.

The organisation said this was only the case if the pet in mind was a horse.

Spokeswoman Susie Willis said Australians could not imagine their dog or cat locked inside all day, or withouta big backyard.

“They even seem to think that dogs need a big backyard to run around in and cats need an outdoor play area,” she said.

“We realised we needed to help pet owners step out of the past and into the future.”

The organisation created www.petsinthecity.net.au to void some of the myths and common misconceptions people had about owning pets in confined areas, and to assist them in enjoying the many benefits pets can bring.

Sunshine Coast-based 4 Paws Animal Rescue founder Julie Penlington said the environment best suited to pets depended on the individual's situation.

Julie said people who had indoor pets in apartments and units worked around the fact that they did not have a yard.

Keeping pets happy

TO keep their pooches happy, Julie said most indoor pet owners made the effort to walk their dog every day, depending on their exercise needs.

“It depends on the age of the dog, and the type of dog,” she said.

“Every doggy likes to go out and read the doggy news.”

Big dogs, however, were best suited to homes with a yard and needed regular walking, Julie said.

“They need committed, loving owners,” she said.

Julie said fenced council dog parks were a fantastic advantage for dog owners with little or no yard.

As for house-bound cats, Julie said they needed less exercise and were perfectly suited to a more sedentary indoor lifestyle.

Along with protecting the native wildlife and keeping neighbours happy, Julie said cats were better left inside for their own protection.

“For a cat's safety, we advocate inside ownership of cats,” she said.



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