Every once in a while I get a request to remodel a home so that it’s pet-friendly. That shouldn’t be surprising; after all, it’s estimated that 73 million dogs and 90 million cats live in U.S. households. Doing renovations for your pet may sound like some pet owners are being overly indulgent, but remember that taking your pets’ needs into account can also makes life easier for you. If you can put the litter box in an out-of-the-way location or find a convenient way to bathe the dog, your house will be better suited to your lifestyle.
Pet-friendly Ideas for the Kitchen: If you feed your pets in the kitchen, you might like to ensure that their food and water don’t get in the way of the humans using the room. Some cabinet manufacturers offer slide-out toe-kick drawers where you can store food and water bowls. Or you can design your kitchen with an alcove that is just the right size to keep the food and water out of the way of passing feet.
This cat bed is in a built-in nook that keeps the cat out of the way and allows it to feel safe. Photo credit:
A Room with a View: Dogs and cats love to see what’s going on around them. Floor-to-ceiling windows are popular with many homeowners because they let more natural light into the house, but they can also provide your pet with a way to see the glories of nature or to catch a breeze. You can install bird feeders near the window for extra visual interest. If your windows don’t go down far enough for your pet to see through them, you can install a shelf on which your pet can sit and view the outside world. Some homeowners also put in a doggy “window” from the second to the first floor which lets dogs observe their owners’ activities down below.
Cats Will Play: These days a lot of cats are strictly indoor cats. This means they are safer, but need more entertainment. Many homeowners have come up with some creative ways to give cats exercise and entertainment in the house. Some homes have systems of elevated walkways that allow the cats to roam from room to room – even a wire-enclosed “cat walk” that goes across the room. Another popular feature is “cat trees” with hidey holes, hammocks, and other cat-friendly features. They’re often covered in carpet to encourage climbing, and can be free-standing or installed in the corner of a room. If you do have walkways or a shelf by a window, they can be accessed with stairs or diagonal ramps that felines will enjoy using.
Rooms for Pets: Many pet owners like to create a space devoted just to their pets. Sometimes it is an alcove in a kitchen or mudroom that’s just the right size for a pet’s bed. Some lucky pets even get a room of their own. It might be a laundry room, a mudroom, or garage with a pet door that allows your pets to go in and out without disturbing you and while maintaining the pet’s privacy. Pet doors don’t have to be flimsy plastic constructs; the one below was designed to fit suit the room’s existing molding. These retreats might also be equipped with water fountains and automatic feeders. Some cat owners create a haven containing a cat bed and litter boxes with ventilation fans.
This doghouse was inspired by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo credit:
Pet-friendly Flooring: If you’re installing a new room, you might consider under-floor radiant heating, a luxury many pets appreciate, which also happens to be a particularly economical and green heating method. Or you could consider heated floors in a bathroom or mudroom. If you have carpeting on your floors, you want it to be stain resistant and in a color where your pet’s fur won’t be very noticeable. If you’re choosing a flooring material, try to pick something like linoleum that is scratch resistant.
Mudrooms and Pets go Hand in Hand: Today the mudroom is receiving a lot of attention from homeowners. It’s the place where we transition from inside to outside and can provide vital storage for coats, shoes, and backpacks, preventing these things from cluttering up the rest of the house. A popular feature of mudrooms is a tiled area with a handheld showerhead that allows you to wash the dog without having to lift it into a tub. The mudroom is a great place to locate the doggy shower because it prevents the dog from tracking dirt throughout the house; just be sure that the room’s floor is something stain-resistant and easy to clean like tile. Some pet owners also add a fold-away grooming table. Mudrooms are also great places to have drawers and cabinets to store leashes, pet food, and other supplies.
This doggy has his own space in the mudroom. Photo credit:
Pets During Renovations: No matter how pet-friendly your remodeling plans are, no pet is going to enjoy the remodeling process. It’s noisy and dirty – and brings lots of strangers into the house. Be sure your contractor puts up barriers to prevent pets from wandering into construction areas. Before renovations start, think about which areas of the house you can confine the pet to. When remodeling is completed, check to make sure that nails and potentially dangerous dust are clean up so they won’t find their way into your pet’s mouth. Some pet owners board their pets during particularly noisy or dangerous phases of a remodeling project.
We’d love to hear from you if you have made any alterations to your home to accommodate your family pet. Please add your comments here!