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Dear Christopher Cat

I own a small apartment over my store, and I’m thinking about renting it to a woman who has two kittens. What kind of damage can cats do? I will be requiring a security deposit, but I wonder what else I should do to protect my building.

Christopher Responds

Good for you for renting to a pet lover. Once they find housing that accepts pets, most pet lovers are stable, responsible tenants.

I have never damaged my home, and neither have my four-legged house mates. But I understand some cats aren’t as perfect as I am, so let me suggest the following:

1) Require that the kittens be spayed/neutered when they are six months old to reduce the risks of spraying and yowling usually associated with breeding.
2) Be sure the cats have a regular veterinarian and that their vaccinations (especially rabies) are kept current.
3) Request that the cats be kept indoors. Whenever they’re outside with their caregiver, they should be harnessed and leashed.
4) Interview the renter to determine her commitment to protecting the apartment. For example, ask about her plans for preventing a flea problem (safe, easy-to-use products are available) and how she intends to keep the cats from scratching the carpeting (Mom clips our claws, and she provides scratching posts and other cat furniture for us.)

Go to for suggested renter policies, an application form for renters with pets and a pet addendum to a rental agreement.

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