In my household, the pets are just as welcome on the furniture as the humans.
For me, there’s nothing better than sinking into a cozy chair with a cup of coffee and one of our purring kitties in my lap. Unless, of course, it’s cuddling on the couch with my dog, Chilly.
Of course, sharing your furniture with paws and claws means more wear and tear in a shorter time. So when we recently redecorated our family room, we made our selections with our pets in mind. For instance, we picked a coffee table made of wood and metal instead of shiny glass or other surface that would show cat paw prints.
We also specifically chose fabrics that would be easy to clean and relatively scratch-resistant. We even tested a leather fabric swatch for our new sofa by taking Chilly’s paw and scratching it to see if it left a mark. To be doubly sure, we gave it to him to play with outside to see if the dirt would wipe off easily. To our delight and surprise, it held up to our testing and that was the leather we chose for our sofa!
The upholstered chair we ordered (pictured below) is made of a fabric that you can clean crayon and markers off of — it’s designed for homes with small children. It should be a good fit for any messes Chilly and the two cats can whip up.
Chilly sat in our new chair before I even had time to cut the tag off! Photo Courtesy of Kristen Levine
Not everyone has a remodeling project in the works, so how do you protect your investment while keeping your house pet- and people-friendly?
Here are seven of my favorite, super simple tips:
1. Make a clean sweep.
If your pets are allowed on the furniture, it’s a good idea to vacuum and/or wipe it down weekly. Also, be sure to rotate any removable cushions so that a pet’s favorite spot doesn’t become obvious through dirt or wear.
2. Wipe it up.
For a lot of dogs, there’s nothing better than a romp in the back yard — especially when it’s muddy! To cut down on the dirt and mud they track inside the house, keep an old towel near the door and quickly wipe their feet before they come in. Most dogs will quickly learn the routine and stop for the obligatory foot rub.
3. Take cover.
Draping a blanket or sheet over your furniture makes cleanup a lot easier. Just toss it in the wash and voilà — muddy paw prints have vanished! If you prefer a more tailored look, there are a variety of slipcovers for sofas, loveseats and chairs on the market. There are even some made specifically to combat pet hair and dirt.
4. Set up a place for your pet.
No, you don’t have to buy your Beagle his very own couch. But if you provide him with a soft, comfortable dog bed, you may be surprised that he chooses to be there rather than on your couch. If he shows no interest, make it a happy place for him by giving him a bone or a project toy to chew on, and praise him when he chooses to lie on the bed.
5. Redirect the scratching.
Even the most dedicated cat-lover can get annoyed by felines putting their claws where they don’t belong. To redirect this natural instinct, place a favorite cat scratcher near any furniture you don’t want your cat to treat like a scratching surface (you might need more than one). Be sure to praise your cat or give her a cat treat when she uses the scratcher.
6. Offer alternatives.
Our kitties love hanging out in the guest bedroom, which leads to a bedspread full of fur. SO not guest-friendly! But instead of shutting them out, we’ve placed an enclosed kitty bed for them to use instead of the bedspread itself. This cuts down on the amount of cat hair that gets on the bed. And, of course, we always wash the bedding before a guest arrives to reduce any cat/dog hair or dander that may be lingering.
We keep a cat bed — that light-blue thing that looks like an igloo — on our bed for our kitties. Photo Courtesy of Kristen Levine
7. Set boundaries.
Maybe you have a precious piece of furniture that’s been passed down for generations. Or what if you just don’t want your pets on your couch? There are all sorts of great ideas to deter Fido or Fluffy. For instance, we have used a can of compressed air. We don’t blow it directly on the pet; the “whoosh” sound is enough to startle them off the furniture. There are bitter-tasting sprays you can put on your furniture to deter chewing. When deciding on the best method for your situation, just make sure that it doesn’t harm your buddy.
When it comes to pets and furniture, consistency is key. If you welcome them anywhere, that’s great! It’s also fine if you prefer that your kitty stays off the credenza. However, once you’ve set the rules, it’s important not to confuse your pet by making exceptions from time to time. Being clear and consistent will set them (and you) up for success.
By: Kristen Levine
Featured Image: Kenny McCartney/iStock/Thinkstock