Remember when the words “pet decor” meant a cat tree wrapped in ugly carpet or a crate with a cover thrown over it that doubled as an end table? No more.
Whatever your decorating style, clever manufacturers and DIYers have come up with some amazing and amazingly attractive items and home hacks that suit both your pets’ needs and your own desire to have an attractive home. We’ve collected eight of our favorite ideas for making a beautiful life with your cat or dog, whether you’re remodeling, redecorating, crafting it yourself or buying something new:
▪ Fur-niture: We’ve all sighed over the amount of pet hair that collects on sofas, chairs, bedspreads – pretty much anything in the home. Of course you can throw a sheet over your sofa or purchase a cute cover decorated with paw prints, but there are other options if you want a more sophisticated look. If you’re buying a new piece of furniture, look for easy-clean fabrics such as Ultrasuede, a type of microfiber, or Crypton, a synthetic fabric that resists stains (including those made by muddy paws), odor and bacteria. Or consider skipping fabric altogether and going with leather, pleather or vinyl. All are easy to clean, and some vintage vinyl pieces look fabulous. Check Etsy, salvage shops or Craigslist for finds.
▪ Re-cover: If you have sewing skills, look online for patterns and make slipcovers from the fabric of your choice. Pet-friendly and washable fabrics include denim, cotton duck and canvas. Choose something that can be thrown in the washing machine when your pet throws up on it. Other good choices are floral or tapestry prints that will help hide fur between vacuum visits.
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▪ Pet beds: Repurpose an old radio cabinet, console TV or suitcase to make a unique sleep spot for your pet. Another way to upcycle: Turn an old dresser drawer into a pet bed with a cushion or pillow. Look on Pinterest or HGTV.com for how-tos.
▪ Built-ins: If you’re building or remodeling your home, ask the contractor about implementing one (or more) of these pet-friendly conveniences: a pullout cabinet for storing pet food and dishes, or a sliding drawer beneath a cabinet with custom cutouts to hold pet dishes; window seats, bookshelves or cabinets with built-in pet beds; or a custom pet door that matches cabinetry or door paneling. Houzz and Pinterest have scores of examples.
▪ Pet door: For a simpler way to spruce up an existing pet door, simply add trim, or molding, around the edges.
▪ Cat walks: Cats like to rule their domain from on high. And what could be higher than the ceiling? You can build or purchase attractive steps that attach to the wall so your cat can climb to the highest point in the room, well away from marauding dogs or toddlers. Bridges allow him to perfect his acrobatic skills as he crosses over doorways. Cat bridges, mazes, forts and other configurations all attach to the wall so they take up little space while allowing your cat to go vertical.
▪ Windows: Build a window seat so your pet can enjoy the view outdoors or even an enclosed “catio” that can be accessed from a window. You can build a window seat yourself, hire a contractor or purchase one from retailers such as Bed, Bath and Beyond or Amazon.
A border collie named Tex finished first at the second annual Westminster Kennel Club agility trial, over a field of 330 dogs. A husky mix named Roo successfully defended his 2014 title as the highest-scoring mixed-breed dog in the competition.
▪ A miniature schnauzer named Sissy trekked 20 blocks to the hospital where her owner was undergoing chemotherapy. She had ridden there in the car previously, but had never made the journey on foot. After finding her way, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, dog walked in through the automatic doors and was presumably in search of an elevator to take her to visit Nancy Franck. Hospital employees intercepted her and used the phone number on her tag to call Dale Franck, who had been searching frantically for the would-be canine candy striper.
▪ New Jersey legislators and Gov. Chris Christie have enacted a “pet store disclosure” law that requires pet stores to provide breeder and inspection report information about puppies for sale. Described as the toughest in the country, the legislation also prohibits pet stores from selling puppies purchased from breeders found by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to have “severe violations” of care standards. The measure’s sponsor, state Sen. Jim Holzapfel, says providing the information allows consumers to research breeders and make an informed decision before buying.
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton, author of many pet-care books. The two are affiliated with Vetstreet.com. Dr. Becker can also be found at facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker.