How to Make High Rise Life Better for Your Furry Friend

Posted by reside360 Team on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 at 11:43am.

One of the many struggles of living in a high rise apartment in Chicago is taking care of a furry companion, like a cat or dog. Not only is the limited access to greenery and open spaces a stressor on you, the owner, it can also cause anxiety for your pet. The reside360 team tracked down a local Chicago veterinarian, Jen Henderson, from Near North Animal Hospital to get the lowdown on best practices for the busy Chicagoan and their hairy babies.


Kiss my Grass

If you’ve ever had a dog, or even just fostered one for a few days, you’re all too familiar with the little whine and scratch at the door in the middle of the night. Good ol’ Spot needs out and no he can’t hold it. When you live in a freestanding home, peeling yourself out of bed, slumping to the backdoor, and letting him out is work enough, but when you live in a high rise in the Gold Coast or River North, you may be thirty stories high, which is a whole new world of torture, especially in the winter. 

Companies like Pet Patio Pickup are here to save the day! They market themselves as “Chicago’s premier pet waste removal service for downtown dog owners who don’t have the luxury of a backyard.”  So what exactly is Pet Patio Pickup? It’s a service that provides real patches of grass for your pet in order to potty train puppies or for those late night bathroom problems. You don’t have to opt for real grass if it’s not in your budget, there are fake grass options as well. If you don’t have an outdoor space, some owners keep the plot of grass indoors in an area rarely used, and think of it as a litterbox. 


This is What We Trained For

Image if you lived inside your whole life and never met another human before, then one day you are forced outside and suddenly you must interact with tons of strangers who want to chat with you and maybe sniff you. That’d freak you out right? That’s why Jen suggests dog or puppy training. It’s not just about learning to sit and stay, bringing your pet to a training school also grants them the opportunity to regularly interact with other dogs of different shapes and sizes. Additionally this allows your dog to feel comfortable with humans that are not you, which will lessen the chances of unruly behavior when you have company.

“If you don’t have a well socialized and behaved dog, it can make everyone’s lives a bit more challenging,” Jen said.

These Boots Are Made for Walkin’

Despite what some may think, covering your pup’s paws in the winter time isn’t a Paris Hilton move. They may look silly but according to Jen they are a big help. “The boots are less to protect their feet from the cold, and more to protect their feet from the copious amounts of salt that are put on the city sidewalks to melt the snow and ice. The salt dries out dog’s feet and the salt can really sting!”

The salt can cause the dog to over-groom and lick their feet which can then result in sores and infections. So buying booties could save you a trip to the vet, and it’s not that Jen isn’t a lovely person, but it will save you time and money!

Music to Their Ears

Many owners think it’s nice to leave the TV or music on when they are gone so Spot doesn’t feel so alone. While some pets may like this, many will find the constant noise bothersome. Remember a dog’s ears are much more sensitive than our own, and most dogs sleep when no one is home. If you still want to have music playing while you’re gone because you think it helps, consider buying calming music that is specifically orchestrated to appeal to them. Try, that features smooth sounds that can help with the dog’s separation anxiety.

“Separation anxiety is much more common in dogs than cats. Having music that has a calming affect can be really helpful for your animal and may help with other behaviors associated with anxiety such as yelping or chewing shoes,” Jen said.


Perch Merch

Cats are innately climbers. They love to lounge in trees (cue attractive fire fighter) but within the confines of an apartment, teetering on branches isn’t exactly an option. Jen says, “Cats need a place that is above floor level, a place where they feel safe.” She suggests buying a perch, also known as a kitty jungle or a cat tree, where they can scale. Having this space just for them helps alleviate territory issues, and just maybe you will stop waking up to a cat sitting on your head every morning.

Jen suggested checking out websites like, which offers lots of options and designs that may fit into your current layout.


I Can Poop in That?

A major complaint all cat owners have is the unsightliness of a litterbox. They are ugly, bulky, and a major inconvenience when you live in a cramped space. Finding a place to put a litterbox when you live in a one bedroom or studio is practically impossible, but your fears shall be vanquished! There are numerous designs out there that hide the litterbox within cabinets and other pieces of furniture. It’s a double win, not only does it hide the litter box, it also offers countertop space that the owner can use, thus it’s multifunctional.

You can find these designs on places like and


Itch You CAN Scratch

Remember that horror story your friend told you? She took home Fluffy, and everything was going well until one night Fluffy decided to scratch up her brand new leather couch. Why Fluffy, why?

Cats like to wander and explore. Smaller apartments don’t allow that which can be difficult for cats like Fluffy. They need to get aggression out somehow and in your friend’s case the leather couch was an innocent victim! Coupling with a cat perch, having a scratching post can be very helpful for your cat with feline angst. Think of it as kitty boxing. A scratching post allows the kitty to take out it’s aggression instead of on furniture or your face!

“Be sure to purchase a scratching post that offers both horizontal and vertical posts, as some cats prefer one type over the other. The presence of a post should help a cat with exercise and burning off energy that can become hostile behavior.”


Catio Lounging

This rule can apply to most animals in general, but cats specifically love to lounge in the sun. Many owners will leave the door to their balcony open so their cat can lay outside when the sun heats up the concrete, which for the kitty is like getting into a hot tub. While the cat may enjoy this, there are still dangers for allowing your pet out there without supervision. While watching the pet is suggested, another precaution you can take is cat-proofing the balcony.

These tall mesh gates keep Fuzzy from slipping between the bars or jumping over the railing. The cat can still enjoy the warmth of the sun while you have peace of mind.


We hope these tricks and ideas are helpful for you and your furry best friends! For more information from Jen, call 312-944-5350 or email her at Near North Animal Hospital is located at 1207 N Wells.

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