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Creature comforts

Choosing the right pet furniture isn’t a walk in the park.

Pets and furniture normally don’t flock together. They chew your new sofa, litter the carpet with fluff, nibble at the table’s legs and scratch the chairs. And that’s before going into toilet troubles. Rest assured that if you have pets, you can forget keeping your house looking like the cover of Elle Decor.

There are various solutions to stop your cats and dogs from wreaking havoc on your furniture. You can cover your furniture with throws, keep your pets outside or spray your furniture with one of those home-brewed concoctions that usually include vinegar or essential oils.

But then, it’s best to dig at the root of the problem. Why do your pets like your furniture? Well, that’s pretty obvious. Because they find it comfortable and it can double up as a playground. The solution? Easy: get your pets their own furniture.

Feline good

When choosing cat furniture, you need to keep cat behaviour in mind. First of all, cats tend to get bored easily, so they need the kind of furniture that offers them plenty of activity options. Secondly, cats enjoy climbing, hiding, scurrying and scratching – whatever furniture you buy them needs to tick all these options.

However, it all depends on your cat’s age. If your cat is of a pensionable age, then go for comfort rather than action: after a lifetime of hunting mice and scratching your furniture, what your cat needs is a comfortable bed, easy accessibility and soft fabrics. However, if your cat is an adolescent with loads of energy reserves, then choose furniture with platforms, stairs and poles – that will keep it busy.

But let’s start with the basics: a cat bed. Now this isn’t the most stimulating piece of furniture. However, given that a cat sleeps from 16 to 20 hours a day, it’s essential for your cat’s comfort and well-being. Make sure that it’s the right size; too small and your cat will not be comfortable, too big and the cat will lose out on the cosy factor.

If your cat spends most of its time outside, then you need a cat house. Here, choice of size and material is essential. First of all, like a cat bed, a cat house needs to be of the right size and made of sturdy material that can withstand outdoor elements and that gives your cat safety. Another option is a cat tent – these can be used both indoors and outdoors as well as when travelling.

Cats love to climb, so invest in some perches from where your cat can monitor its surroundings. A perch also gives your cat plenty of exercise opportunities.

Scratching is another feline favourite pastime. But more than a pastime, it’s a necessity. Like human nails, a cat’s claws grow throughout its life and need regular attention. A scratching post allows your cat to sharpen its front claws. The best options are posts made from corrugated cardboard or natural wood.

Good to the bone

The most essential piece of furniture for your dog is a kennel, as it gives your dog shelter and comfort. When choosing a kennel for your dog, you need to make a number of considerations. You need to decide whether you prefer a kennel made of wood, plastic and metal. All have their advantages and disadvantages. A plastic kennel is lighter to move but probably not as durable as metal, which however is heavier and not as well insulated. A wooden kennel is natural, but is it chew proof? Also, go for kennels that are easy to clean and maintain, have good ventilation, and don’t make it easy for parasites to find a home. Weigh your options and decide.

You also need to consider the size of the kennel. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Even large dogs prefer to be in smaller spaces, as this makes them feel safer and helps them stay warm in winter. Rather than big, a kennel needs to be high so that it allows your dog to stand up and turn around. Keep in mind your dog’s safety. Avoid kennels with sharp edges or those which have stability issues. Also, invest in the right bedding.

Your dog needs plenty of exercise. Walks are, of course, the best option. However, if you have a large outdoor space, you might want to buy your dog some practice equipment, such as a practice tunnel, agility A-frame, hurdle jump and crawl tunnel. They will keep your dog fit and give you some quality time together.

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