The honest truth about cats and dogs

If sharing 200 square feet with another full-sized human is tricky, then sharing it with two animals and another full-sized human must be hell, right?

Actually...it's pretty great.

Mr Butters and Starbuck have had to adjust to each other's presence in the close quarters- the other day I even caught them snuggling.

And I'm not saying that through my teeth while our tiny bus secretly reeks of cat pee and wet dog. There are definitely known benefits to living with animals- they reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and help people lead happier, fuller lives. These things are no different in a small environment.

Starbuck, in case you forgot what cute looks like

In our experience, our pets have become less stressed since moving into our bus. Starbuck is a rescue, and had some moderate behavior issues due to anxiety when we got him two years ago. Now, those problems have greatly been reduced, partly due to the amount of exercise he gets living in a park, and partly because of his response to our living space.

Mr Butters, an 8 year old smoky quartz tabby, has changed significantly for the better since moving in the bus. Post kitten-puberty, he was notoriously fickle and unpredictably hostile at times. Now, he's just as cuddly as he was when he was a kitten (although he still thinks we exist solely to feed him).

Mr Butters and Starbuck have had to adjust to each other's presence in the close quarters- the other day I even caught them snuggling.

No joke.

Pics or it didn't happen

Will your animals adapt successfully to tiny living? I don't know, but I do know there are some things you can do to help make the transition easier for them.

  1. Designate a space for each of your pets in your new home, preferably using materials with which they're already familiar. For Starbuck, we brought his bed into the bus and used parts of his crate to create a new, collapsible crate that could be stored when not in use. This helps him feel safe in a new space and lets him know that he has a denning place of his own. He's a part of the pack, and he knows he's safe here.

  2. Maintain a schedule with your animals throughout the transition process. This way, even if they're in a new, unfamiliar place, they at least know to expect their meals at consistent times. Noticing a trend? Consistency is key.

  3. Give dogs plenty of time outside (at the same times each day, if possible) to ensure that they're getting the exercise they need. This will help reduce any potential anxiety that comes with change.

  4. Carry over the same sleeping arrangements they're used to. This will help them identify their new digs as home, even if it looks (and smells) different than their old one.

  5. Ensure that your tiny home has proper temperature control so that your animal will be comfortable at all times, even when you aren't home. This is perhaps most important, since buses weren't designed to be living spaces. We have an AC unit and an electric heating unit that are both very effective. Make sure you consider climate when choosing a tiny home and how you'll design it.

Living tiny can be done with pets, as long as your pets are taken into consideration throughout the design and planning process, and not just as an afterthought. For example, if your tiny home has stairs, will your furry friend be able to scale them? Is there a designated space for your litter box? Is there room to store your pet's food and toys in your new home? As long as you address their needs ahead of time, I think you have a great chance at making a home that all of you love and feel comfortable in.