Virginia Jackson – Town Planner
I’ve been looking at the question of pet-friendly design for over 10 years and I find it intriguing how simple practical measures can make the world of difference to the life of the indoor cat or dog. If we know that cats like to be elevated, then things like accessible window sills or three-quarter high walls in small apartments for example can make the world of difference. If we know dogs and cats like a warm spot in which to lie then it is relatively simple to design windows – even full-length windows – that maximise sunlight. And if we want to maximise the space available to a dog being kept in a small unit with a courtyard or deck, then doggy doors that allow them to move inside and out will help to facilitate that.
Considering the needs of the pet owner is also important. Some owners will want to restrict their pet’s access to parts of the dwelling. Fully open-plan dwellings can make this difficult. A discrete location for the pet’s pan will also be important for some pet owners. Whilst it takes a bit more effort, there is no reason why most pets can’t be kept in compact forms of accommodation. Certainly, all animals benefit from access to outdoor space, but in my opinion it is not a prescriptive requirement for people to have a backyard if they want to own a dog. What’s moreimportant is providing them with an enriching space, a loving relationship with the family and regular outings into the public realm.