Dogs and cats may be the most popular pet choices but for practical reasons, they are often not allowed to be kept in apartments because of concerns about their hygiene and the noise they can make.

But there are numerous alternatives to cats and dogs that can become good companions for the apartment dweller.

Jeline Lin, manager of Nilufar Pet and Aquatic Sdn Bhd, tells The Edge Property that more people are now looking for ‘alternative’ pets, including exotic animals, particularly those that won’t create loud noises and can be kept indoors.

“Dogs and cats may be a popular choice, but for apartment residents, there are many aspects to consider, such as how to reduce the noise of a dog barking or whether there is enough space for it to move around. Many condominiums and apartments ban residents from keeping dogs and cats at home,” she says.

There are many other choices of pet available depending on one’s personal preference and budget. “Families might like something furry and easy to take care of, such as rabbits, prairie dogs, fennec foxes or chinchillas,” Lin says.

Others prefer non-furry animals, such as reptiles and amphibians, including chameleons, iguanas, snakes, frogs, tortoises, etc. And if you prefer creepy crawlies, consider spiders, scorpions and even exotic beetles (but please understand that they don’t show much emotion). For aquarium keepers, besides fish, you could include lobsters or shrimps.

Some protected animal species may require special permits to be kept at home, so do your research before getting an exotic pet home. (We haven’t done it for you because wildlife trafficking is a deadly trans-border crime that funds terrorism. Please google it.)

Anyone considering taking an animal home as his or her pet, whatever the species, must be aware that animals are breathing, living beings that need and reward your love and care. Lin notes that animals, like humans, do experience stress especially when they feel insecure. Besides feeding and cleaning them, owners must set aside daily quality time for their companions, such as for walkies and other activities that they (not necessarily you) enjoy, and that will nourish their beings. This, in turn, will enrich and make your life more meaningful.

Lin says different pets display different signs of stress. For instance, birds will eat less and tend to fight with other birds in a cage (which is why birds should be allowed to fly freely); or a snake will stop eating and hide all the time.

“Beware of pet stress, as it might kill the pet,’ Lin warns. “Normally, the first symptom is a change in eating habits, and when they eat less or stop eating, their immune system will be affected,” she adds.

Removing an animal from a source of stress, improving its living environment and giving it extra care will help it recover from stress, she says.

Just remember that your pet is not a product, like a handbag or smart phone that you change every season, even though you had to pay for the privilege of its companionship. You will have to care for the animal for the rest of its (or your) life, come hell or high water. Such is the sanctity of life, and pets.

This article first appeared in The Edge Property, a pullout that appears every Friday with the The Edge Financial Daily, on Oct 16, 2015. Download The Edge Property for free here.

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