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Designing a Pet-Friendly Space

Pet owners know that our furry, feathered, or scaled friends are a part of our family. Most pets, however, make their way into more than just our hearts. Dogs chew feather pillows, cats scratch new leather couches, and small animals like guinea pigs or iguanas get lost in the walls.

Help your clients balance their homes and their animals by creating a pet-friendly space. Making their pets feel safe and comfortable is important for both their wellbeing and that of your clients’ furniture!

Designing a pet-friendly space for cats

1. Eliminating risks

Simple things like the string on the blinds or the cord for the TV might not pose a threat to your clients, but they certainly can to their pets. Tall dogs and cats who like to chase things can get tangled in the looped string, which can be a strangling hazard. Cats, rabbits, and other small animals might chew through the plastic around the TV cord, exposing them to electrocution. Shorten or cut the loop in the blind string or choose blinds with no string at all. Keep electrical cords hidden or covered by having the TV stand against the wall or feeding cords into a box that animals can’t open. Look out for similar risks and account for those as well.

2. Indoor plants

Indoor plants are nice, but they can be dangerous for animals. Avoid decorating the space with plants unless you know that they’re animal-friendly. Cats, rabbits, and even some dogs just can’t resist the free snack! Good quality artificial pants are a pretty and safe alternative. If your clients want real greenery but you’re still concerned, research decorative options that are safe, or perhaps even intended, for animal consumption. Tolerating teeth marks in the leaves is easier than having a very sick pet.

3. Staying safe

Fencing the back yard is essential for homes with dogs. Not only do fences prevent the dogs from running away, they also protect them from other animals. Fences also keep wandering children from run-ins with territorial dogs. Animal runs keep other pets safe in a similar way. Setting up a solid, safe cat run in the back yard lets Mittens enjoy the outdoors without running away, being attacked, or hurting anyone. Runs benefit rabbits, lizards, and guinea pigs as well, both inside and outside the house. If your clients take their eye off their pet for a moment while they’re outside the house or their pen, disaster is far less likely if you’ve designed a space with a safe animal run. Some runs are extremely creative and blend with the overall décor of the house!

4. Tight spaces

Do your best to create a space that is free of small, unsafe places animals might wriggle into. Building cubby shelves for cats to curl up in is a great idea, but leaving a hole in the basement wall uncovered could result in the disappearance of your clients’ rabbit. Animal-friendly spaces are free of places where pets might become lost or stuck without access to food and water.

5. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

The best food situation keeps your clients’ home clean but allows their pets to eat comfortably. Consider bowls that are raised off the ground on stands to keep the food more contained and discourage bugs or rodents searching for crumbs. Alternatively, slip cute placemats under the bowls. A plastic placemat is easier to clean than the floor, but the pets won’t have to eat in the garage. Are clutter and over-eating an issue? Transform a drawer in the bottom of the kitchen island into a pull-out feeding station that can be wiped and closed between meals (but remember to keep water accessible at all times).

Designing a pet-friendly space for eating

6. Play time

Store pet toys throughout the house or incorporate pet play stations into the décor. Attach trendy colored shelves for cats to climb above their scratching post. Build clear hamster runs (with fastened doors along the side in case of emergency) down the hall between the kids’ rooms. Designate a toy box in the playroom for Scruffy’s toys and teach him to fetch those instead of the kids’ toys. Making pet playtime easy keeps them from chewing your clients’ shoes instead.

7. Caution: Fragile

Dogs wag their tails, cats jump high, and birds land on things. Create a space that doesn’t put breakables at risk while pets go about their day. Strategically position picture frames, figurines, and so on above Scruffy’s tail or in a pretty cabinet where Mittens can’t swat them. You don’t want to remove all décor from your clients’ home, just make sure that if something is within reach of Tweety’s wings, it’s not the heirloom wedding china.

8. Bed time

Most pets like to be with their humans. Help your clients enjoy their pets’ company without having to vacuum fur from the expensive couch every day. Incorporating beds into the décor of several rooms avoids extra chores and keeps pets feeling safe. Customize a shelf in the TV stand with cushions and toys so Mittens can curl up with the family without sitting on the leather sectional. Build stairs at the end of the bed so Scruffy can sleep with your clients even if he is too small or too old to make the jump by himself. Do your clients want him in the room but not in the bed? Transform the cupboard of their bedside table into a doggy bed.

9. The great outdoors

Not all pets are safe outside, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy some sunshine. Build a seat by the window so Mittens can curl up in the sun, give Tweety a good view of the birds in the yard, and make sure Scruffy has lots of light while your clients are at work. Giving your clients’ pets a bright, happy place to spend their day while also keeping them safe is ideal.

Designing a pet-friendly space with sun

10. Bathroom breaks

Easy bathroom access means less mess for your clients to clean up! If Mittens can’t find the litter box or isn’t comfortable with that spot, she might leave an unpleasant surprise in your clients’ slippers. Make sure she can reach her litter from anywhere in the house, but keep it private enough that everyone feels comfortable with her using it there. You can increase Scruffy’s bathroom access too. A safe doggy door that can be locked at night or when your clients aren’t home lets him get in and out when he needs to without badgering your client to open the door over and over.

If your clients are enthusiastic animal lovers who want their whole home to reflect their pets, get creative and build a pet haven with beds and play structures all around. If your clients just want to ensure that their animals are safe and happy, however, customizing the space they have so it considers their pets’ wellbeing and comfort is the best approach.

Do you have other unique suggestions for designing a pet-friendly space? Tell us about them in the comments below!