The last Sunday in April marks National Pet Parents Day. To celebrate this special day, we decided to offer all pet parents out there some insightful advice on sharing their homes with their furry companions. Cats, dogs, and other pets enrich our lives, make us happier and more relaxed, and maybe help us be more physically active.
However, having a four-legged roommate is not always easy, so we wanted to offer some simple solutions for adapting your home so that it is accommodating for everyone, including your pet. We focused on cats and dogs, as they’re the most popular pets, but also because they are the ones which actually share the same living space with us, as opposed to birds, hamsters, reptiles and fish, which all have dedicated habitats.
Here are a few easy ways to make your home a happy place for your four-legged companions:
1. Create fun tracks throughout the house for your cat
Cats love to climb, jump, look down at us from above, and have spaces that are exclusively theirs. That’s why indoor cats will benefit a lot if you create a fun obstacle track throughout the house that will keep them active and entertained. You can start by observing your cat’s favorite places for climbing and jumping. Then, you can connect those spots using things like floating shelves, decorative ladders and cat tunnels, and also simply by making room for the cat to lounge on the existing furniture.
If, for example, your cat loves to climb some shelves and then jump onto the nearby cabinet, keep a couple of inches of free shelving for her and clear any stuff you were keeping on top of the cabinet. Not only is it easier for the cat to move around, but you are also protecting your belongings this way. The main goal is to have a special path for your cat to go about the room, or the entire home.
2. Window seating is greatly appreciated
Cats and dogs enjoy having a comfortable leisure spot near a window, one that allows them to see everything that’s going on outside, including birds which they’d like to put their paws on. So, if possible, arrange some “window seating” for them. In the case of cats, it’s not complicated – there are many accessories you can buy for this purpose, like cat hammocks for windows. Of course, you could also simply put a blanket on the windowsill for the cat, if the space is wide enough.
Dogs, on the other hand, don’t climb quite as easily as cats, so, if your home doesn’t have floor-to-ceiling windows or balcony doors, it’s a bit more complicated. Small dogs could benefit from a stepping ladder to help them climb onto the windowsill, where you could install some sort of seating area for them. However, larger dogs might have to be content with simply standing up on their hind legs and peeking out the window from time to time. In this case, you could make sure that the floor space underneath the window is clear and uncluttered, and the drapes or curtains are not in your dog’s way.
3. Keep your home uncluttered
Dogs need space to move around the house – and, even though cats don’t have the same issue, as they can easily climb on or jump over furniture, it’s still a lot easier to clean an uncluttered home! Start with a thorough sorting out of your stuff and discard things you no longer need. Self storage is a good solution for those items you don’t use daily, but still need, like sports equipment, seasonal items, various tools, and so on. Not only will you and your pets enjoy more space at home, but you’ll also avoid unwanted events, such as someone clawing through your camping tent, or chewing up your Christmas decorations.
Once you have decluttered and created more space at home, it’s also important to keep your dog’s usual routes obstacle-free. If, for example, your dog has a habit of running from the kitchen to the living room and back, or playing with its toys in a certain area of the house, don’t leave things like bags, clothes, shoes, boxes or other items laying around in those spots. Your dog will either think they’re toys and tear them to shreds, or perhaps, in their excitement to go walkies, even stumble over them and get injured.
4. Sisal rope is your furniture’s best friend
There are many types of clawing and scratching posts for cats, and maybe you already bought quite a few and put them around your house. However, oftentimes, your cat keeps clawing at your sofa, chairs, and other furniture despite having plenty of other options. The main reason is that cats are creatures of habit and, once they have decided they like a certain spot for clawing, they will keep using it. The other reason is that clawing posts are not as sturdy and stable as a piece of furniture.
Instead of trying to convince your cat to stop attacking your brand new sofa, it’s a lot easier to protect it by adding sisal rope. Depending on the type of furniture you want to protect, you can wrap the sisal rope around it, or you can sew it to a piece of sturdy fabric and then attach the fabric to the furniture. If you don’t want a DIY project, you can also purchase ready-made sisal furniture guards of various shapes and sizes that will fit any type of furniture with arms perfectly.
5. Set up a feeding station for your dog
Keep your home neat and tidy by creating a dedicated space where you can feed your dog and also store all the food, bowls, treats and accessories. You could, for example, turn one of the lower drawers in your kitchen into a feeding station – when it’s mealtime, you open the drawer and pour out food from the container into the bowl. When your dog is done eating, you simply close the drawer, and your kitchen stays nice and tidy. You can also find dog food storage cabinets with bowls included – they’re both practical and elegant.
6. Make sure your backyard is both safe and fun for your pets
Keeping your cat in the backyard is not an easy task – and it’s up to you if you allow your cat to be outside or if you keep it indoors. However, there are different ways to protect your cat while she’s outdoors.
One solution is to install overhead netting on top of your existing fence, at an inward angle, thus preventing the cat from climbing over the fence. Another is to build a completely enclosed outdoor space for your cat that she can access through a cat door. If, for example, you already have a deck in your backyard, you can add mesh screens all around. This will keep annoying bugs away and allow your cat to be perfectly safe while spending time outdoors.
In the case of dogs, it’s less work — just make sure the fencing is sturdy, and your dog can’t go through it, dig underneath it, or climb over it. Another thing to consider are the plants in your backyard. There are many common decorative plants that are poisonous for cats and dogs, including ivy, aloe vera, amaryllis, gladiolas, rhododendrons and so on. Make sure you check each type of plant in your garden for pet-safety before allowing your furry friend to run free.
What other home improvement projects for pets are you considering? Let us know in the comments. Happy Pet Parents Day, everyone, and enjoy your time together!