CATS CAN BE IDEAL PETS, even in the smallest Hong Kong homes. They make few demands, don't need to be walked or bathed, and being nocturnal they are likely to sleep all day while you are at work and be ready for play when you arrive home. With a few minor adjustments to your home, there's no reason why you and kitty can't share a living space harmoniously. Veterinarian Anita Tomasov says most people are unaware how much fur cats shed, so if you don't want a house full of cat hair at the end of each winter and summer, start brushing from an early age to help them become accustomed to the brush. If you are allergic to cat hair you could consider a Rex breed, which has no coat and can be imported from breeders in Australia, the United States and Britain. Pet-transport specialists such as Angela Yeung of Aeropet can arrange the journey (tel: 2744 3330). Protect your sofas and curtains by cutting the cat's claws every two to three weeks using either human or animal nail clippers and being careful not to cut them too short (avoid the pink bits, which are the nerves or blood vessels). To get its paws used to being handled, play with your kitten's feet regularly. Invest in a good-quality cat scratching post - one with a solid base that won't tip over. Alternatively, you could attach a hessian door mat or piece of carpet to a wall. Tomasov says if these measures don't deter puss from scratching its favourite corner of your sofa, discourage it by lining the sofa with strips of double-sided tape. Exercise-deprived cats are susceptible to obesity, diabetes and joint problems, and one way to avoid this is to install a 'cat gym'. Buy a variety of shelves from Ikea ($10 to $36 a piece including fittings, tel: 3125 0888; www.ikea.com.hk ) and attach them at various heights from floor to ceiling, making sure there is enough room at the top for the cat to turn round. Six or seven shelves should do the trick. You can train your cat to use the gym by putting its favourite treats on it, or by playing with a laser pointer (cats love these) available from most stationery shops for about $18. For active cats, attach carpet to the shelves for traction, especially for those whose claws are clipped. Or you could buy a freestanding, floor-to-ceiling 'cat tree' (prices start at $1,400 at Pet Club, 20C San Shing Avenue, Sheung Shui, tel: 2671 9418). Your local pet shop should also be able to order one. Cats are curious creatures so be careful letting them onto a balcony because they can fall. Similarly, they are drawn to windows, so if you want to air one room make sure the cat is secure in another. Give puss a taste of the great outdoors by planting some cat grass in a tray for it to munch on. It is sold in packets of seeds or in small planter boxes in many pet shops and some nurseries for about $45. Ordinary grass will suffice and should deter cats from eating your plants, some of which are toxic to them. Cats aren't as odorous as dogs, so they don't require regular bathing. However, their kitty litter can smell. Buy an 'igloo' litter tray, which will cause less mess and comes with a filter (available from vets from about $120), and sprinkle a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda into each batch of fresh litter to absorb further smells. If you feed your cats premium food, says Tomasov, it has higher digestibility, resulting in fewer stools. All cats should be de-sexed, which will eliminate tomcat smells from males.