Attention home builders: Sixty-two percent of households have at least one pet, according to the American Pet Products Association. Half of them consider their pets “just as much a part of the family” as others in the household, according to a Roper poll. So including pet-friendly home features makes sense.
“My dogs are my partners, so when we talked to our builder about what we wanted in our house, they were a big consideration,” says Jennifer Voss, who hired builders to build her house.
Leslye Sandberg says she made sure her architect knew she was “animal-nutty” before he designed the gut-rehab of her 1940s house. Her house must not only withstand her 180-pound Irish wolfhound, Roric, and three black cats, she told him, but also the wolfhound parties she hosts.
Sandberg’s needs began with the house plan itself, she says. “We had to have a ranch because wolfhounds get arthritic when they’re older and have trouble with stairs,” she says.
For Voss, a doggie shower for her Labradors, Tex and Gus, was a priority. Four to five times a week, the labs obey her “shower up” command before heading out to their duties as Delta Society-registered dog therapists at libraries and nursing homes.
“Most of our buyers with dogs want dog showers or tubs with hand-held sprayers, usually in the garage or laundry room,” says an Architect.
Homebuilder Anthony Cesario uses his favorite line of extra-deep laundry tubs for dog tubs. He installs them floor-level or waist-high, depending on the size of the dog, then adds a tile surround.
Another popular dog amenity, say builders, is the Dutch door. “When I have a party, the dogs can go into their beds in the laundry room, but still hear everyone because the top part is open,” explains Voss.
The No. 1 request from cat owners, is extra-deep windowsills so the cats can watch the world go by. “We made one with a stone sill, so it didn’t get scratched up,” he says.
Sandberg specified double-hung windows because they accommodate the cat perches she makes from wood and sheepskin. And, she asked her architect to make sure he left enough room between the refrigerator and upper cabinet for her very social cat, Slink, to oversee kitchen activities.
Forget the man cave: homeowner Ann Hernandez asked her architect, to build a dog house under the stairway, adjacent to the lower-level sitting room. “They go in there when they want to be by themselves,” says Hernandez of her dogs, Boof and Tulu, who enter through their dog door.
In fact the builder built litterbox cabinets in laundry rooms. “I include a low-volume fan that stays on,” he explains. “It doesn’t make much noise, and keeps the air flowing outside.”
Fish fanciers look to aquarium companies to further equip their homes. When Decature Tounsel built his house, a coral reef aquarium was his must-have. The result: a 260-gallon tank on his first floor, with the plumbing and equipment in a basement “fish room.” An extra beam reinforces the floor under the tank. While his clownfish and anemone fish frolic among the coral, exhaust fans carry the humidity and heat that the tank generates upward, though the walls and out the roof. Cabinetry surrounding the tank has marine varnish to avoid peeling.
Some new-home products are more pet-friendly than others, say the builders. Eichorn likes distressed wooden floors. “They are already worn, so toenail scratches don’t show,” he says. Color variations in the wood make pet hair less visible, he adds.
The floor of a homeowner’s “dog room,” designed by Pickell, is tiled for maximum defense from scratches and muddy footprints.
Owners of drooly dog breeds, especially, should consider wall paint with high gloss, suggests Eichorn. “Very easy to wipe off.”
Sandberg recommends a screen/storm door with a portion that slides up and down to suit the height of the pet.
Nancy Peterson from the Humane Society suggests buying vertical instead of horizontal blinds for minimal damage by climbing pets. A built-in window seat is great, she adds, because it doubles as pet-toy storage and a perfect pet portal. “It’s like pet TV,” she says.
In multifamily developments, dog devotees look for clean and accessible areas for their dogs to do their business and socialize with other dogs. “At our old condo, we had to walk down the street to even find a grassy spot,” says Chelsea Maki, who bought a condominium. “Now, we walk 100 yards to our own, six-acre dog park that’s shaded and has a fountain where the dogs play.”
The development has dogs aplenty, says Maki, who has a Siberian husky named Brody and a Scottish terrier named Duncan. Management keeps a list of doggie services, including a mobile groomer who comes weekly.
Dog people who play together stay together, says Kristy Brown, who bought a townhouse to suit her beagle-pug mix named Brutus and her English bulldog, Lucille. “We have our own gated park, where all the dogs play together safely,” says Brown. “Our neighbors are great ‘dog people.’ We dog-sit for each other. It took us a long time to find this place and we plan to stay.”
Signs Your Cat Is In Charge Of The House!
There’s a reason cat owners are sometimes referred to as “staff.” Cats have a way of burrowing in and taking over not only your heart, but your home too. Take a look at your house for these telltale signs that a cat is running the show.
- Random Litterbox Locations – A sure indicator of a home where cats rule the roost is litterboxes in unexpected places. Corner of the dining room? No problem. In the master bathtub? Easy-peasy–just lift the litterbox out when you need to use the tub or shower. Such an arrangement may seem ridiculous to people whose abodes are not run by cats, but cat owners know: Move the box and prepare for a piddle puddle somewhere you don’t want it. It’s better to have the box where the cat likes it.
- Cat Pillows – Once your cat finds a spot he likes, it’s hard to deny him the pleasure of returning there. Often, that spot is a pillow that sits on the couch where the afternoon sunlight hits it just right. Incidentally, such pillows are no longer used by humans.
- Uncomfortable Sleeping Arrangements – In cat-ruled homes, nobody but the cat ever really sleeps where and how they want to. Cats are known to sleep on their humans’ stomachs, stretched across the bed, on their owners’ heads and more. And, in a cat-owned home, the humans just accept those arrangements.
- Sleeping Schedules That Aren’t Your Own – Speaking of sleeping, or rather not sleeping, homes run by cats are households that rise early. If it’s not a furry face staring at you, willing you to wake up, it’s the incessant meowing, the blinds rattling, items falling off shelves or other disturbing noises the cat purposefully makes. No one sleeps through breakfast when cats are in charge.
- Limited Access to Technology – Have a work deadline or an important email to send? That’s all fine until your cat decides the warm computer keyboard is just what he needs at the moment. Cat-ruled humans know that removing the cat from the keyboard sounds much easier than it is. Your cat will keep returning to claim his spot–or force you to abandon your computer.
- Shredded Cat Trees – The concept of tastefully designed cat trees that subtly blend with your home’s decor is fun to fantasize about, isn’t it? But alas, for owners like you, such thoughts are but a dream. And cat owners know this truth: Get rid of the favorite cat tree and put your furniture, rugs, windowsills and perhaps even your own body in peril.
Compromises, coddling and work-arounds are all part of living in a household ruled by cats. But all the effort makes the rewards of soft cuddles, hilarious antics and adorable mews that much sweeter, doesn’t it?