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Are you cramped for space? Living in an apartment or small house without a yard, but still desire a furry companion to dote on? Here are my top picks for small pets that can provide lots of love, friendship and entertainment.

1. Miniature or Toy breed dogs - These include Toy Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, Maltese just to name a few. These tiny canine companions require little to no yard space, as many can be house-trained to use litter boxes or “potty pads”. Most are quite content to curl up in a small bed or on your lap and lounge the days away. Of course all dogs appreciate a good walk or romp in the park once in a while, and these little guys are no different.

2. Cats – Cats of all breeds make excellent indoor-only pets. In fact, studies have shown that indoor only cats live significantly longer than outdoor cats. Cats are easily litter box trained, but it is important to remember to provide an appropriate litter box number for the number of cats in the house. A general rule is one more box than cat. If you have 3 cats, you need 4 boxes. Litter box issues/inappropriate elimination is one of the most common complaints we get about cats. Cats also appreciate having an “enriched” environment. This includes providing scratching posts, climbing towers and appropriate places where they can hide and stalk their “prey."

3. Ferrets – Ferrets are wonderful little mammals that are very entertaining to watch play and interact with each other. Of course this means having more than one….. Ferrets should never be caged 24-hours a day. They love to engage in vigorous play, after which time they may sleep for several hours. Ferrets can be trained to use a litter box, just like cats, so bathroom issues are not a problem. Ferrets have unique dietary needs, as they are obligate carnivores. This means they require a meat-based diet. There are several specialty ferret diets available.

4. Rabbits - Rabbits make intelligent, friendly and quiet house pets. A typical rabbit life span is 7-10 years. Like ferrets, they should not be caged all their life. They require exercise to keep their bones and muscles healthy. Rabbits can be litter box trained, making clean up a snap. Rabbits require a diet comprised primarily of hay, greens such as lettuce, celery and carrots, as well as fruit for snacks. Rabbits should never be fed strictly a commercial pellet diet, as this is not complete for their needs. Due to their prolific ability to reproduce, rabbits should be spayed and neutered if you plan to keep males and females together.

Dr. Edie Best

DVM, DABVP

Billings Animal Family Hospital

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