Welcoming a cat or dog into the family is a time of fun and excitement. But there’s nothing like scratches on a new couch and fur-covered carpet to snap things back to reality. How do you keep your home in tact while living with a dog or cat? Australian veterinarian Dr Katrina Warren shares her top tips with The Home.
Pet Proofing The Home with Dr Katrina Warren

Most pet owners have tried and failed to keep their pets off the couch. Often dogs will sleep on their own bed while their owners are watching, but hop onto the couch when the owners are not home. And cats pretty much sleep wherever they want! Choose a couch fabric that doesn’t stain easily and can handle nails and claws. Textured fabrics like chenille should be avoided as they’re easily pulled and unravelled. Ultrasuede and Crypton are good for pets as they are easy to clean, and cats don’t tend to scratch them.
Carpet absorbs odours and stains, and can be difficult to clean, so I suggest avoiding if possible. If not, low pile carpet is the easiest to clean. When cleaning urine stains use an enzyme cleaner made for urine as general household cleaners and steam cleaning only mask the smell for a short period of time and don’t remove the uric acid crystals.

‘Always opt for cushions covers and throw rugs that are machine washable.’


Choose your colour palette carefully. Dark fabric and floors show up light pet hair and light fabric shows up dark pet hair. Consider including pieces with the same colour as your pet’s hair for an interior finish that helps hide any dropped hairs.
Groom pets regularly. Trimming your pet’s nails will protect your floors and upholstery, and the more hair you remove from your pet, the less you’ll find around the house.
Shedding pet hair is one of the main frustrations pet owners have. If you know it’s something you won’t be able to cope with, consider a breed that’s a low shedder. While all dogs and cats do shed some hair, there are certain breeds that shed little including maltese, poodle, and schnauzer dogs, and Devon Rex and Cornish Rex cats. Keep in mind these pets still require regular grooming.
Pet Proofing The Home with Dr Katrina Warren


Scratching: There’s no avoiding scratching when it comes to cats. It is a natural behaviour for them, and it allows them to remove the outer sheath of their claws to expose the new ones underneath. If you don’t provide cats with a surface to scratch, they will use your furniture and carpet! A scratching post needs to be sturdy and tall enough for your cat to stretch out on to scratch. You must teach your cat to use the post by playing games on and around the post for several days. If you cat goes to scratch the furniture, redirect them to the post and encourage them to use it.

‘If you don’t provide cats with a surface to scratch, they will use your furniture and carpet!’

Cats don’t like smooth, shiny surfaces as they are difficult to get a claw-hold on, so when buying a new sofa, carpet or wallpaper, opt for a smooth finish rather than a very textured one, and choose a tight rather the horizontal side of life.
Climbing: Cats like to perch up high in places such as window sills – they feel safe higher up and it allows them to watch the world going by. There are lots of clever ways to integrate perches into your house, while maintaining style- including adding ledges to walls. ( Here is a link that shows what I mean )
Do not allow puppies to roam the house unsupervised as they may do plenty of unwanted housework for you as well as have accidents. Puppies should be confined to a puppy play pen if you are not actively watching them, and they should be given safe toys to chew on to keep them occupied during this time.

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