How to Make a Pet-Friendly Home Without Sacrificing Beauty or Style
Does your living room scream “pets live here?” We’ve all been there. We love our dogs and cats, but they have a tendency to take over our lives and our homes. That’s not a bad thing unless we forget that our homes do have purposes other than operating as a full-time playground for Rover and Fluffy.
Pets, like children, tend to acquire a multitude of belongings from necessities to toys. Before you know it, Rover and Fluffy have taken over every inch of the house.
The solution is to provide our pets with everything they need, arranged in attractive coverings and designs. Then we can decorate our homes to disguise and eliminate the evidence of potential pet messes without upsetting the lives of our fur-babies. Guests won’t be greeted with the aromas, sights and sounds that make up our pets lives and if we do it right, our pets will be happy and healthy.
Begin By Thinking Like Your Pet
Take a couple of days to observe how your dog or cat spends his days and evenings. Does your dog have a preferred place to sit or nap? Is there a particular area of a wall where Fluffy enjoys rubbing against to either scratch an itch or just to leave her scent? When he is eating, does Rover have a habit of sliding his food bowl all over the place? Where does Fluffy seem to leave the most fur?
The answers to questions like that will help you determine if the behavior needs adjusting or how you can accommodate their habits and still allow you to enjoy an attractive home.
For example, if you note that Fluffy only uses one particular spot to rub against on a wall, does the wall appear soiled or greasy? When you wipe it off, does the wall return to its original paint color? If not, there is a fix for that.
Clean and repaint that area of the wall and move a piece of furniture to the same place Fluffy likes to rub against. Yes, she may find another place to “decorate” with her lovely self, but maybe not. Or perhaps it will be a place that won’t leave a visible mark.
Our cat, Chico, rubbed an almost black spot on a wall in our home over time. I repaired it twice before understanding that our boy had claimed that area as his own. I moved a credenza in front of it. Chico switched his affections to the corner of the wooden credenza, and it doesn’t show signs of him at all. There’s always a solution.
Take notes about your pets’ behavior. From those notes, you can create a plan to improve the appearance of your home while allowing Rover and Fluffy to be who they are.
Decorate Your Home For Your Dog’s Well-Being & Happiness
Remember, your dog lives there; visitors are temporary. Put Rover’s needs first. With that in mind, here are some suggestions that will make your dog comfortable and allow you to feel good if visitors drop in.
- If your dog is allowed to sit on your sofa, consider purchasing a special cover that looks rather like a dog bed. Coordinate colors with your dog and the sofa it sits on. Murphy loves his, and it’s totally washable!
- Place a container near your door to hold leashes, collars and even a flashlight for nighttime walks. A pretty basket will look nice and keep those supplies contained and handy for walks.
- Purchase dishes for your dog that reflect your decor. Retail pet stores and online stores sell many kinds of attractive feeding containers for dogs, along with place mats to coordinate with them. Avoid plastic bowls for dogs because something in the plastic irritates the skin of some dogs and causes them to break out with an acne-like rash on their chins.
- Rover’s toys are just like children’s toys. They seem to multiply overnight. Again, select an attractive container that works with your decor and fill it with all the dog toys. Some dogs are so intelligent that they can learn to pick up their toys and return them to the container when asked. Treats make good incentives.
- Dog beds can be attractive as well as comfortable. Search online for beds that work with your style or buy fabric and make your own dog bed. Choose a sturdy fabric and use heavy-duty thread. Fabric stores like JoAnn’s sell pet bed inserts. Orvis and L.L. Bean sell high-quality, very strong pet beds for larger animals.
- If your pet prefers to sleep in his crate, outfit it for comfort once he passes the puppy chewing stage. His crate should be large enough for him to stand and turn around. Consider placing his crate under a table or counter where it isn’t glaringly visible to others and gives your dog a quiet, private place of his own.
- When visitors arrive, give your dog a Kong® toy full of treats or slathered inside with peanut butter to keep him occupied inside his crate.
- Large dogs may determine how you decorate your coffee table or end tables. Some are the right height to wipe off the top of a table with one wage of a tail. If you live with such a dog, hide the breakables and place a pretty basket or books on the table instead.
- If you have space, store Pet Wipes, treats and a towel in a pretty container near the door. I purchased a small, rustic cabinet with 3 deep drawers from Pier One. I placed it atop a long, narrow table in my entry and the drawers hold all the dog supplies I might need near the door.
Kitty Comforts that Won’t Detract from Your Decor
All cat owners know that our feline friends may be the most independent creatures alive. Training a cat is hit or miss. Some will cooperate and happily comply with your commands in exchange for a treat. Many will simply ignore you. Cats expect us to be their willing slaves, and we usually do whatever they wish. For those who wish to spoil their feline fur-babies, here are a few tips to please Fluffy, while helping you keep their belongings mostly out of the way.
- Every cat should own an indoor climbing tree. They come in many sizes and styles, and sizes are limited only by your budget. All cats love to climb and a climbing tree with shelves provides them an opportunity to exercise their legs and observe the world from on-high. If the climber’s bulk and looks offends you, find an out-of-the-way bedroom for it that Fluffy can access.
- If your home is large enough for you to donate an entire wall to your felines, try installing shelves at varying heights across a wall and paint them a color to match the wall or coordinate with it. Your cat will enjoy climbing around on the shelves and may often nap there. The exercise she gets by climbing helps Kitty maintain her trim figure.
- Very few cats sleep where you want them to. It’s the nature of the beast. You can provide an adorable bed or two or 3 for her, but Fluffy will sleep where she pleases and that might be a simple cardboard box. She will enjoy a high perch with a soft cushion on it and will use that often.
- Try to confine Fluffy’s toys to one room to make your life easier. If I only had a nickel for every hard, plastic, cat toy I’ve stepped on, I’d be wealthy! Most cats won’t care where their toys end up, but some are OCD enough to return their toys to wherever they decide is the proper place. Our Lucy lines hers up across the bottom of our daughter’s bed.
- Cats love windows! Consider placing that aforementioned climber in front of a sunny window. Your cat will stay there for hours. Even a deep window sill or the top of an upholstered chair will hold a cat mesmerized for hours by the birds, insects and other creatures outside.
- If there is one item every cat should own, it’s a scratching post. Indoor cats will scratch and claw your furniture, if they don’t have something on which to exercise their legs and claws. You can buy inexpensive scratching boxes or the actual posts at varying prices, depending on size.
- Last but not least, let’s talk about litter boxes. We all despise them, but they are a necessary part of life with indoor cats. No one wants to smell a litter box when they walk in the door. The solution is to choose your litter carefully, according to your cat’s preference and to scoop the litter at least twice a day. Thoroughly clean the box weekly. Cats care about the odor of their boxes. You may have to experiment to find a particular litter that your fur-baby prefers but when you do, don’t change it. For example, neither of my cats will tolerate a litter with fragrance. Let your cat dictate her preferences so she doesn’t show you her displeasure by leaving little gifts outside the box.
Your Pets and a Pretty Home Can Co-Exist
Our dogs and cats are our responsibility, and it’s our job to keep them happy and healthy. We can do that best by providing them high-quality food, toys and a warm bed, along with plenty of love and affection.
If you feel your home is lacking in beauty and style because of your pets, consider creating some of the suggested changes as you can afford them. Enjoy your pets and relax, knowing Rover and Fluffy live a good life and you are pleased with the appearance of your home.