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Creating Pet-Friendly Spaces for a Harmonious Home

Posted on Mar 29, 2018 in:
  • Remodel
  • Seattle Times HomeWork
  • Maintain
  • Homeowners

A well-designed home accommodates the needs of all family members—including your pets.

By Cynthia Chomos, Catio Spaces

Q: Loved your recent Year of the Dog article. Do you have more solutions for coexisting with four-legged housemates of all types?

A: A well-designed home accommodates the needs of all family members, including pets. Whether your fur family consists of dogs, cats or other creatures, a peaceful coexistence is possible without sacrificing the enjoyment of a beautiful home.

Pets that spend most of their day indoors have basic needs for shelter, nourishment, elimination, and enrichment. Affected by the daily rhythms of your household, it's important to maintain a consistent schedule for feeding, walks, and playtime. This can lead to a happy pet and less cleanup due to anxiety or unmet needs.

Here are some tips for creating spaces you and your pets can enjoy, indoors and out.

A place of their own. Create a haven for your pet with a cozy bed located in a calm area with a view of family activities. Pet beds come in a variety of sizes, colors, and designs to complement your home décor. For sun-worshipping cats, consider adding a window shelf with attractive brackets for catnaps and bird watching.

If your comfort-seeking pet likes the sofa or chair, a slipcover or throw can protect fabrics and be removed for cleaning or when guests visit. Durable fabrics include leather, synthetic microfibers, and various outdoor textiles. Patterns and darker colors will hide pet stains.

For pets that chew and scratch, metal-legged tables and furniture are a good choice. A cat scratcher, essential for removing nail sheaths and daily stretching, can be placed in a family room out of direct viewing.

Pet-friendly flooring choices include bamboo, engineered hardwood, cork, vinyl, tile, or stone. Add attractive, slip-free rugs for warmth and doormats to help keep muddy paws from tracking dirt into your home.

A serene feeding area. Avoid placing water and food bowls in traffic-flow areas of the kitchen as this can affect your pet's digestion (and become a tripping hazard for two-legged family members). Choose a calm location and consider a raised feeder, which can provide easy access while promoting better posture. Water-resistant placemats and oversize, decorative canisters can add a creative touch.

Odors and litter boxes. There is nothing pleasant about walking into a home and smelling pet odors. Open the windows often and wash pet materials including beds, blankets, and stuffed toys. Consider unscented litter deodorizers, an air purifier, or aromatherapy oils, such as lemon or orange. These natural scents help eliminate odors and also uplift your spirits.

If your pet eliminates outside of designated areas, consider whether there is a health issue or changes in the home such as a new baby, remodeling, or other factors that could upset your pet. If so, a trip to the vet or designating a calm room can help them through the transition.

Pet-safe plants. Many indoor and outdoor plants are toxic to pets. For a complete list, visit American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' website.

Outdoor spaces and catios. Pet doors offer freedom to enjoy the outdoors. Fenced backyards keep a dog contained but cats can scale a fence and encounter many outdoor hazards. To keep your cat safe and happy, consider a catio, an enclosed "cat patio" designed for a window, porch, patio, deck, or yard.

Always provide fresh water for your pet outdoors and avoid using toxic lawn or garden chemicals to protect not only your pets' well-being, but also the health of birds and wildlife.


Cynthia Chomos is a feng shui consultant and a designer with Catio Spaces in Seattle. She is also a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). HomeWork is the group's weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you'd like answered by one of the MBAKS's nearly 3,000 members, write to


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