Living With (and Loving to Live With) Pets and Their Fur

We love our pets! And we’ve got a lot of them.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 36.5% of American homes (43.3 million homes) have a dog living in them and 30.4% (36.1 million) have a cat. (And sometimes, it feels like all of those pets are living under your roof, doesn’t it?) It’s been proven that having a pet in your apartment home can improve your mental health.

Living with a pet takes attention to details, that’s for sure. There are certain things that we have to do to make sure our homes are tidy and healthy. To have a pet- and human-friendly home, experts advise frequent vacuuming, bathing your pet, using washable fabrics on the bed and — something that isn’t always considered — choice of treats. While your dog may go bonkers when you bring pig’s ears or rawhide bones home, your rugs and furniture might not appreciate it. Those products tend to leave greasy stains. Choose rubber toys instead.

And for cats who might sharpen their claws on your sofa, consider getting a cat tree that either hangs on a wall or can be set up in a corner.

You might also match your colors to your pet’s fur. That way, the hair left behind won’t be so noticeable.

Of course, it’s best to train your pet early on to respect your boundaries in the home. You can cover furniture with sheets or plastic covers to prevent accidents in the beginning and offer treats when your dog or cat settles into its designated bed. (Never, ever use shock collars or mats! They cause stress that will create anxiety-related problems.)

Try keeping a bed or sleeping surface in every room for your pet, which should encourage them to sleep there and not on the sofa or bed. Cats may prefer multiple scratching posts around your apartment home. Double-sided tape or aluminum foil can prevent furniture scratching, until your cat learns not to scratch there.

Keep your pets in mind when you’re choosing household fabric, too. Patterns are highly recommended, because they tend to hide hair better. Tweed is discouraged, though, because pet hair can get lodged in the weave, making it hard to clean (who knew?). Synthetic fibers such as Ultrasuede or microfiber are great. Cats don’t like to scratch them and they’re easy to clean with soap and water. Outdoor fabrics are easy to clean, come in a wide range of colors and prints and although they might not be as soft as other fabrics, they’re sturdy and can hold up to a pet’s constant use. In addition to tweed, fabrics to avoid with pets in the house include chenille, velvet (that must be awfully hard to clean with a pet around!), wool, linen and silk.

Of course, human pet companions need to pay attention to their beloved’s fur coat. Regular brushing and combing doesn’t just keep your pet healthy, but it helps keep your home cleaner. How many of us have a collection of deshedding brushes? Whether it’s a deshedding brush for dogs or a pet deshedding glove, there are plenty of products on the market to choose from. One of the most popular line of products on the market comes from Furminator, which has products that remove the loose, dead undercoat from a pet without cutting or damaging the topcoat. For cats, it’s a great way to prevent hairballs (that one gagging sound that will awaken a human in an instant, right?). The company even makes an attachment for your vacuum, to clean up pet hair.

Other products to remove pet hair include adhesive rollers (stash one in every room!), a sweeper with disposable cloths for hardwood and tiled floors, static spray to make it easier to vacuum and lift pet hair off fabrics, and rubber gloves to run over upholstery to ball up pet hair.