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Home Style for Pet Owners

"The Truth About Cats and Dogs -- Getting a Pet?" by Jura Koncius, published in the Washington Post February 28, 2002.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, 62% of Americans own pets -- and thus probably encounter hairballs, shed fur, snagged fabric, scratched woodwork, stained carpets, muddy paw prints and other home furnishing mishaps.

It's a challenge for pet people to design a home environment that's both stylish and sensible. An initial step is choosing a pet is compatible with one's lifestyle. Another step is preparing the home to withstand a pet who might chew, scratch or otherwise damage the furnishings within.

Julia Szabo, a New York pet columnist and interiors writer, has written a book called "Animal House Style." Szabo has five rescued pit bulls and eight cats in her Manhattan apartment and house in the Catskills. She found that white slipcovers are a favorite of many pet owners because they are easy to wash. And that other than bare wood floors or tile, sea-grass rugs are better than sisal for animal wear and tear. Szabo turned to Ultrasuede upholstery because it's easy to remove hair from this fiber.

Other tips to live in style and comfort with pets:

* Washable slipcovers are easy to clean.

* Washable cotton throws or matelasse coverlets can be draped over your pet's favorite piece of furniture. They're easy to wash and bleach.

* Use stain-resistant fabric in a dark pattern for the furniture to camouflage dog hair.

* Keep a neutralizing cleaner such as Simple Solution handy, since pets' liquid emissions can damage carpets.

* Groom pets regularly to reduce shedding.

* Consider choosing upholstery colors to match your pet.

* Szabo suggests using interior paint with satin or eggshell finish, which allow for easier cleaning.

* Install wood, laminate or tile floors, which are easier to clean than rugs.

* If you prefer natural fibers, sea grass is more stain-resistant than sisal.

* Patterned rugs help disguise stains.

* Tightly woven fabrics are less likely to snag.

* Trim cats' claws and dogs' nails to reduce floor-scratching and rug- and fabric-snagging. Long nails can snag plush carpets, requiring periodic rehooking from carpet restorers.

* Substitute blinds for draperies for easier maintenance.

* In addition to scratching posts in several locations, provide pieces of bark and raffia place mats for cats to scratch.

* Szabo wrapped a banister in natural sisal twine, providing a built-in scratching post for her cats.

* To discourage scratching on a particular furnishing, pet behavior expert Warren Eckstein suggests taping a blown-up balloon to the item. When it pops, the pet will likely go elsewhere.

* Sticky Paws double-sided adhesive tape can discourage cats from upholstery scratching, notes Koncius.

* Reduce clutter (which will reduce the number of potential chewing targets as well as safety risks).

* Szabo sprinkles natural lavender oil on dog beds and floors to neutralize odor. The oil doubles as a flea repellent.

* Clean smelly carpets with white vinegar or an enzyme product made especially for pet messes.

* Buy the best vacuum cleaner you can.

* Keep a lint roller in every room.

* Some cats claw the loose fabric underneath a bed's box springs. Prevent this by putting a fitted sheet or piece of plywood around the bottom.

* Outdoors, Eckstein suggests filling a plastic kiddie pool with sand and putting a dog's toys in there. The dog will dig in the sand, not in your garden.


For more Dog Tips about pet care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our website at:

Partnership for Animal Welfare, Inc.
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768

Last Updated: April 26, 2018 (LET) PawSupport