When I asked about pet-friendly furniture in our Facebook group, someone said,
Either have pets or furniture...You can't have your cake and eat it too!
But many of us really do want to have furry friends and lovely furniture. So, what do we do?
1. KNOW YOUR PETS
The most important thing about choosing pet-friendly furniture is to know your pets. It goes without saying that a goldfish isn’t going to cause carnage like a pair of kittens in one of their crazy moods!
But pet-friendly furniture isn’t just about protection from the rough and tumble of pet life. It’s also about considering how your pets like to live, and what sort of furniture they tend to take to in your home. For example, is your dog happy to sleep in a standard dog bed? Or does he or she prefer certain chairs, sofas, or hard surfaces where they can feel comfortable and safe?
(Of course, if you're thinking about furniture in preparation for a pet yet to arrive, it's impossible to know. In these cases, it's always better to be cautious.)
2. CHOOSE FURNITURE THAT WILL SERVE THE NEEDS OF YOU AND YOUR PETS.
Here’s where knowing your pets comes in. If you’ve got a bit of a grandpa dog who spends his days lazing about and getting cuddles, then chances are you can opt for practically any fabric you desire to upholster a new sofa or chair—though, fabric protection is always recommended, and you should probably get washable slip covers if he’s got a leaky bladder (as old boys tend to at their age). But if you’ve got a middle-aged cat with claws to sharpen who still thinks she’s six months old, then you’ll definitely need to be looking for more durable materials—think strong, high-quality leathers or commercial grade fabric. If that’s going to be an issue, just opt for materials that don’t look shabby when they’ve suffered a bit of wear and tear.
If your pets are more into tables, then it’s worth considering what the table-top is made of. Going for glass, marble, or similar materials is going to be easier to wipe down before dinner than wood, especially considering how much fur sticks to timber furniture after it’s been freshly nourished with orange oil. But there are other considerations with these materials, too. Putting to one side any aesthetic grievances you might have, glass table-tops can become dangerous if they crack, and tables with genuine marble are incredibly heavy and tend to be pricey. Additionally, your pets may simply prefer the feel of timber table-tops. Again, it’s all about knowing their needs and yours.
3. CREATE DIVERSIONS
OK, so if you don’t want to buy new furniture—or you’re really paranoid about your pets destroying your precious pieces—then you’ve just got to give your pets something better to sharpen their claws on. The classic example is catnip spray. This is a wonderful way to divert a cat’s attention from your lovely fabric chairs and sofas to the scratching pole they never use (nice sofas must be better for sharpening claws, apparently).
Or, if you want to be hardcore, you can buy specially-made pet repellents. But beware: many of these are ammonia, citrus, and/or vinegar based, so your pets mightn’t be the ones who think your house stinks! And that’s not very homey now, is it?
4. IF YOU STILL HAVEN’T ANY LUCK…
OK, so you’ve tried everything, but your pets are frustrating your every move. What can you do?
First, let me empathise. I know exactly how you feel. It took me a long time to save up enough money to deck out my living room with custom-made, Australian-made living room furniture (the Melrose range specifically). Within a week my kittens (as they were then) had scratched, it seemed, every part of the sofa they could reach. They even tore a hole in the underside in my gorgeous fabric chair so large they could climb in and sleep in it like a hammock!
Do you want to know how I fixed the issue? Well…
I realised the problem wasn’t with my pets, nor my furniture, but me. It dawned on me that having lovely furniture is, well, lovely, but having a space where my cats could feel at home and be themselves is even lovelier. So here’s my advice: you don’t need to enact a set of domestic by-laws regulating the manner in which your pets are allowed to use the spaces you so kindly provide for them. Instead, maybe it's just about learning to live and let live. That’s family life, after all!