A helping of animal magic: how to plan your pets’ space at home

Pets are a treasured part of the family, so create a comfortable environment for your furry or feathered friends that will keep them happy and well groomed.

Pet Project by Marie Laurent. Courtesy Marie Laurent Architecture
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From the constant attention and exercising to feeding and cleaning, owning a pet can sometimes feel like a full-time job. But in spite of this, your four-legged (or winged) friend is a part of the family. Creating a safe and loving environment for your pet will make your life together a more harmonious one. And often all it takes are a few small additions, be it a comfortable place to sleep or even an area of the home they can call their own. One thing’s for sure: a happy pet makes for a happy owner.

A space of their own

Your bedroom is a place of solace and rest, and your pet should have a similar area of its own. Make sure this space, room or cage is filled with calming and familiar items. From toys and food bowls to cages and hygiene products, create a comfortable space they can retreat to.

For cats and dogs, a pillow, blanket or even a bed will ensure they rest comfortably, while caged animals should have a covered section to sleep in, particularly when it comes to smaller nocturnal animals. If your cat’s litter tray is in the same area as its sleeping quarters, make sure the tray and the surrounding area are kept clean. This will not only eliminate odours and unwanted litter on the floor, but will also ensure your cat stays healthy.

The same can be said for your pet’s water and food – both bowls should be cleaned on a daily ­basis. If you have more than one cat or dog, make sure each has its own dedicated bowl. For pets that always seem to be on edge, consider buying a calming aid. These range from certain types of chew toys to veterinary-approved room sprays that can be used in your pet’s personal area or all around your home.

Keep it simple

Much like having a child, owning a pet means you’re sure to accumulate a lot of stuff. Be it grooming items, toys or even travel accessories, you’ll find that these items can take up a surprising amount of space.

To get rid of unwanted clutter, create a space dedicated to the storage of your pet’s belongings. For leads, consider placing a hook on the wall next to your front door. Not only will this lessen the likelihood of misplacing the lead, but the hook can also be used as an alternative key holder.

For travel accessories such as carriers, consider storing them under your bed. While they’ll be out of sight, they’ll still be easily reachable in case of an emergency. Dedicate a drawer or cupboard to your pet’s hygiene and grooming products. This will remove the possibility of a mix-up in products – particularly with shampoos and other liquids – and ensure you can keep track of smaller items such as brushes and nail clippers.

Finally, as you would with children’s toys, create a dedicated box where you can place toys when they’re not being used. Put this in an area that’s relatively out of sight, but easy enough to access on a daily basis.

There’s one other thing to keep in mind – you may not need all of the stuff you’re tempted to buy. Cats, in particular, can be very contrary, and will often snub expensive toys you’ve so lovingly bought them. Don’t get carried away at the pet shop – know your pet and only buy what you are sure they’ll need or like.

Good habits

Teaching your pet obedience isn’t something that magically happens overnight. It takes patience and time, and there are bound to be spills, accidents and broken items along the way. While these occurrences can be frustrating, it’s best to come prepared.

Valuable items should be stored in an area your pet is unable to access – particularly shoes, clothing and anything that is easily broken.

For the occasional accident on the carpet, consider a homemade stain and odour remover. A mix of baking soda, white vinegar, liquid dish soap and 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide will do the trick. To prevent your pet from returning to the spot, make sure the area is properly cleaned. This sometimes will require the use of bleach on tile or wood, or investing in a steam cleaner for carpeted areas.

It can also take time to wean your pet out of the habit of walking, sitting or even scratching particular surfaces. There are plenty of store-bought options. If, however, you prefer homemade remedies, there are a number of options. For example, if you find that your cat is ignoring its scratching post and has taken to using your furniture – particularly anything that’s upholstered – try mixing a few tablespoons of rosemary with water to spray on the desired areas.

Exercise for two

Exercise is good for human health, so it should come as no surprise the same goes for your pet.

“Exercise not only provides them with physical stimulation but also mental stimulation,” explains Pranesh Sewpershad, an associate veterinarian at the American Veterinarian Clinic in Abu Dhabi.

This is particularly important during the warmer months, when your pet is mainly confined to your home. Window perches, scratching posts and toys such as laser pointers or feather toys, according to ­Sewpershad, are all great ways to keep your feline entertained. With so many options out there, you can even buy items that match the colour and design scheme of your home.

Those with dogs can introduce a game of indoor fetch (if space allows) in addition to your dog’s daily walks. Alternatively, for those who are out of the house for long periods at a time, consider having a pet sitter or dog walker come round a few times a week to keep your pet engaged and ­active.

Looking good

Grooming your pet will ensure its comfort and health, as well as keeping your home (relatively) fur-free, especially if you have a cat or dog.

“Depending on the breed of dog or cat you have, grooming is essential, particularly in breeds with longer coats,” says Sewpershad. “This prevents hair from becoming matted and skin ­infections.”

The brush you choose for your pet, Sewpershad suggests, should be determined by coat type and length. If you find that your pet has rolled in something unsavoury and is in need of a bath – this is particularly common with dogs – use a veterinary-approved shampoo and conditioner.

“Pets have very sensitive skin, so choose your grooming aids wisely. Alternatively, you can get your pet groomed by a professional pet groomer,” says Sewpershad. Finally, keeping your pet’s nails short is another way to make sure you’re both happy. This can be done either at home or at the vet, ensuring your pet is comfortable and your furniture stays intact.


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