Feng Shui Tips for Living with Pets
If you are a pet lover and also want to have a beautiful home that you enjoy being in, this article is for you!
Let me be clear, this article is for humans. Your pets don’t need ‘feng shui-ing’ they are perfect as they are! (Except, of course, keeping their cages and living spaces clean.) We all know our pets would be happy sleeping on an old towel as long as they can be by our side.
As a Feng Shui Consultant, Interior Designer and an avid pet lover myself, I have helped many clients figure out how they can co-habitate with their furry friends without their place looking and smelling like an animal shelter. With a little planning and effort, you and your beloved four-legged can successfully share a space where the needs of all parties are met!
Are you one of those people who has lovely furniture but it is all covered up by the unattractive and un-matching pet blankets? Training your pets to not jump up on furniture is a subject for pet behaviorists, but if you do allow them on the furniture, you can enjoy looking at your nice furniture and take care of the pet fur issue with a little planning. Here are some ideas on how to do so.
Order Slip Covers along with additional material in the same fabric.
If you will be purchasing new sofa and chairs, Pottery Barn and other stores have furniture with a canvass base where you choose your slip cover. Choose medium blue denim or any of the other washable fabrics. It is best to match the color of your pets (for example, darker fabrics for darker coats).
Medium blue denim worked well for me when I had multiple pets. Order extra yardage and ask them if they will do a special order as well. This will consist of sewing two sets of arm covers and two sets of seat and back covers in the same fabric as the slip cover. Add an extra 12 inches for seat and back to allow for shrinkage. If they won’t do it, order the extra fabric and hem them yourself. Most dry cleaners also have sewing services available.
You can then wash the slipcover monthly (because this is more of a pain) and change the seat, back and arm covers once or twice a week as needed. One always goes in the washer when the other replaces it. I had nine feral rescue kitties at one point and this method worked wonderfully. I always had attractive furniture to look at, and could always replace a furry seat with a clean one when needed. When company came I would remove all the covers and just have the slipcover showing. Everything was in the same fabric creating a neat and coordinated look.
I had to be diligent about vacuuming and cleaning more often, but I was committed to having a place that I could enjoy as much as my pets.
If you are going to use your same furniture, find washable throws in solid colors that match your furniture. Costco has great fleece throws in solid colors that work wonderfully. Ross and T.J. Maxx are other great resources for these. Purchase enough of them to successfully cover the seats and backs so that you have one extra set that is in the wash while you are using the other. If you have furniture with patterned fabric, choose one color within the pattern that is more neutral and stick to this. Avoid the loud reds and yellows. This will bring a uniform look to the room that will appear planned and purposefully arranged. If you are a seamstress, do it yourself. Find a washable fabric that matches a color in your pattern, measure the seat, back and arms allowing 12 ‘ more for shrinkage and sew two pairs of each as described in the slip cover section above.
Select Pet Beds in Colors that Match Your Furniture
If you have large dogs it is ideal to train them to go to their special bed and not the furniture. Find a bed that matches your color scheme in a neutral color with a neutral pattern, not something loud and busy. (Remember, this is for you to enjoy looking at, your pet could care less as long as they are near you!)
Make sure the cover is washable and easy to take off. Commit to washing it weekly so that you and your pets can enjoy a clean looking and clean smelling home.
If you sleep with your pets in the room, Costco has inexpensive large dog beds that can be stored under the bed during the day and pulled out at night. This way you are not tripping on them during the day and everyone has a space to cozy up at night.
If you have a little extra money, you can purchase attractive pet sofas, as shown here.
If your dog is crate trained (I will not go into the pro’s and cons of this, but will leave it to the experts) you can purchase attractive crates that will look like a piece of furniture and add to rather than detract from your décor. They are pricey but are quite beautiful and run about what you would pay for a nice end table.
Find Rugs that Match the Colors of your Pet’s coat.
For easier cleaning, it is ideal if you have wood floors rather than carpeting. If you are a renter I realize you don’t have a choice. If this is the case, choose area rugs that can be cleaned in areas pets spend most of their time and put them over the carpeting.
My friend Lisa Spector (pictured above with her beloved dogs Gina and Sanchez) is also a pet blogger with Care2 and has Yellow and Black Labs. Your pets will always gravitate to your favorite rugs, so choose colors that match their coats and the hair will not show as much.
If you own your home and are choosing carpeting, match your animals coats to the new carpeting if possible. I chose a golden color carpet to match my beloved golden retriever and didn’t have to vacuum as much. (Of course you run into the problem of stepping on them on occasion because they are so well disguised!)
In redoing Lisa’s loft, we chose a patterned area rug with cream colors, blacks and browns which covered all bases, as you can see from the photo of Lisa’s dogs, Sanchez and Gina.
Next: Cat Boxes, Scratching Posts, and Pet Smells
One of the dilemmas in working with my clients is where to put the cat box for indoor cats. Here are some tips for these tricky necessities. Please also check out this wonderful care2 article on eco friendly kitty litter.
1. Do not put them in the bathtub! It is unsanitary and unsightly, and humans won’t enjoy being in the space.
2. If you do not have an attractive cover, find a place preferably out of sight such as the laundry room, garage or in a closet.
3. If it must be in the bathroom or somewhere where you can see it, have a nice looking cover and a mat surrounding it to catch the litter. Solutions Catalog has attractive cat box covers that are made of laminated wicker so that they can’t claw them. You can also purchase a piece of furniture for the bathroom that doubles as a cat box cover. The good news about these is you can take it with you when you move.
4. If you own your home cut a small opening in a bathroom cupboard, insert a small cat door, and put the cat box in there. This allows for easy cleaning by simply opening the door, and everything vanishes from view!
5. Make sure to get odor free and pet-friendly kitty litter that is also environmentally friendly and clean it often.
6. Address Pet Smells
Feng Shui is about creating a warm and inviting space that we love being in. It also acknowledges our intimate connection to all things.
Our home should be a place where we feel proud of entertaining friends and family. If we are ashamed of our space because it has been over run by our pets, we are not honoring ourselves.This impacts our lives and everyone we are close to including pets, family and friends.
When we live with pets we often cannot smell them anymore. Ask a friend who will tell you the truth if your house smells like your pets. If you are wondering why your friends make excuses to not come to your home, it may be because they can’t stand the unpleasant pet odor and are afraid of offending you. You owe it to yourself to find out the truth and take care of the problem.
If this is the case you may want to purchase a good air purifier. Find one that does not need replacement filters but uses washable ones. I used one by Ecoquest International for my home when I had nine rescue kitties and it took all pet smells away. It also kills mold and air-borne germs. I am sure there are other good ones, but I found the less expensive ones were useless after 6 months.
A very inexpensive way to eliminate odors is to have a large pan of water with sliced lemons in it heating on a hot plate. However, if you go away and leave it and the water evaporates it will be dangerous. Try for a good air purifier, you will use it for the rest of your life and it is well worth the investment. It will also help those who are allergic to animals and those who have breathing problems.
Pet stores will also have good cleaners to take out pet smells. If you have one you can recommend please share it with us in the comments section.
If your cats are shredding the furniture, you will want to nip this in the bud. I have found keeping a water spray bottle close at hand when they scratch will curb this behavior. You will also want to get them a scratching post where they can sharpen their claws. These eco friendly posts can be found on line under eco friendly cat supplies. They are also much more attractive than the huge carpeted ones that cannot be cleaned successfully and shred.
A big part of Feng Shui deals with safety issues in the home. When you are constantly tripping over pet toys, it is a safety hazard for you, your family and guests who come over. Get an attractive basket large enough to handle all toys and commit to gathering them up frequently and putting them back where they belong.
Make sure all toxic chemicals and cleaners are stored safely away from pets and children, or better yet, eliminate them all together. Replace all of your cleaning solutions with green ones that are pet and children friendly. Advanced Generation has a good line of cleaning products that you may want to look into.
You also want to make sure all pet beds are out of the main walking paths so that people are not constantly tripping on them. Just like people, pets will naturally gravitate towards being in the power position. (See my article on Six Feng Shui Dont’s) which is where they can see the action from where their bed is, have a wall for protection behind them and not have their back to the door. Your pets will instinctively not feel secure in the space if they are run into constantly, and will have an aversion to spending time in their bed.
If we have fish, hamsters, birds, mice, snakes and other reptiles as pets, their cages and tanks must be clean at all times and attractive to look at. All of our beloved creatures on the planet deserve to be honored, loved and taken care of so make sure their cages are large enough for them and filled with objects that will keep them occupied, engaged and happy. Beware of keeping small pets in children’s rooms. They can be too easily neglected and are often disturbing to children’s sleep if they are nocturnal. (See my article on Feng Shui for Children’s Rooms).
Deal With Separation Anxiety.
If you have a puppy that chews through furniture when you are away, my friend and pet blogger Lisa Spector, a Juilliard graduate, concert pianist, and Canine Music expert has developed a CD series that has been clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. It helps them stay calm and quiet and alleviates separation anxiety.
Her CD’s are wonderful, I love listening to them myself and I play them for my cats when I am gone. I come home to a totally ‘Zen” house that is in the same order I left it. You can find these wonderful CD’s of Lisa’s at ThroughaDogsEar.com
You and your pets can live in harmony with a little effort. You owe it to yourself to create a space that not only accommodates your beloved pets but also honors you and your own need to have a home that you enjoy spending time in!
To listen to sound samples of this wonderful music series,simply click here.