We just (Monday) returned from Toronto off an overnight flight to a fresh-smelling house that was cleaner than we left it, a nice note and two well-fed, contented cats thanks to our new cat sitter, Candyfloss Cats (South East).
I was impressed with the thoroughness and professionalism of Candyfloss Cats right from the start – indeed, right from receiving their extremely detailed agreement form which asked more questions about the kits’ likes, dislikes and personalities than I really had answers for. (“Biggie likes sleep, prawns and his own space…) However, I couldn’t help laughing at the yes/no section of the form – particularly the question about where the cats had “access to all rooms”.
It’s his bed now.
Look, I’m not suggesting that having pets is not compatible with a clean and tidy home – although, as excuses go, it’s always worked for me – but rather that, as an animal lover, you might want to temper your expectations somewhat. That said, here are four tactics we’ve adopted over the past five years of feline cohabitation which, we hope, has made the experience a little more comfortable for everyone.
1. The Kitty Air Lock
Scooter and The Big Man are indoor cats and, while they have never shown much of an interest in exploring the east end of Glasgow, it is important that they don’t accidentally get out and get spooked. To that end, we’ve grown used to employing the double door method of entry and egress: we keep the door linking the kitchen to the downstairs bathroom and utility space closed as much as possible, and certainly when we’re opening the back door to clean a bike or bring in the grocery shop. Added bonus: a relatively cat-hair free space in which to dry one’s laundry…
When I visited TOT the Cat Cafe in Toronto the other day, I was amused to see that they had adopted a modified version of the Kitty Air Lock for customers passing through to the cat room. Of course, as a responsible pet owner it’s a good idea to make sure your furry housemate is microchipped, making it as easy as possible for them to find their way back home should the worst happen.
2. Laminate flooring
When you’re living in rented flats, you’re kind of stuck with taking what you’re given, but I’ve always had a personal preference for laminate flooring. It just looks nicer and is easier to clean than carpet, while the range of designs available means it tends to look more expensive than it is. Because it’s generally a little pricier than carpet, plus we decided it was better to have something warmer to step onto on winter mornings, we went for a half-and-half approach when deciding how to kit out the house: laminate downstairs, and carpet on the stairs and in the upstairs hall, bedroom and study.
Fun fact: while I was researching this article, I learned that laminate is actually a better option for pet owners than authentic wood flooring due to its hardiness, water resistance and the fact that it’s a lot less slippery during the 3am zoomies (you know what I’m talking about, guys). Although genuine wood wasn’t an option for us anyway for cost reasons, it’s interesting to know that laminate isn’t the poor relation you might otherwise think it is.
3. Protect your soft furnishings
If you’ve ever lived with a cat, you’ll already know that you can spend as much as you like on the fanciest scratching posts, boards and cat trees but nothing will ever look as attractive to your cat as the end of a fabric sofa.
We’ve tried all kinds of things to address this from anti-scratch sprays, to positioning posts directly in front of a favoured arm, to keeping claws neatly clipped in recognition of the fact that ours aren’t outdoor cats – but, to be honest, the only thing that has ever worked is draping a pretty blanket or throw over Scooter’s (it’s generally Scooter’s) favourite area. This doubles up as a fun way to brighten up your living space as well as hide any damage, while at the same time discouraging her from going for it again and giving her a cosy place to curl up for a sleep.
4. Shut special items away
Repeat after me: it’s not the cat’s fault when she chews through your headphone cable. There’s nothing malicious about it – it’s just that hunting, then savaging, that cable fulfils some sort of primal need that she’s not getting from her other toys and play routines. And yes, I’m using she intentionally here. Again.
Headphones being a particular vice of Scooter’s, it can be a bit of a pain to have to remember to put them safely away in a desk drawer after use (seriously: we’ve only been home for a few hours at the point of writing, and I’ve already had to fish her out of my backpack twice) – but, with replacement cables for my favoured brand of headphones costing around £10-15 each time, it’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. Drawers are the best option here, although unless you too are possessed of a small, whiskered monkey who is likely to jump on your shoulders if you’re standing still in front of the wardrobe for long enough, storing fragile items at height can work well too.
Alternatively… just give up
Once you’ve been a pet owner for long enough, you’re liable to ignore all this advice, as well-intentioned as it might be. There will almost certainly come a point where you completely loosen up and embrace your newly-chewed, pet hair covered, slobbery life full of cuddles and comfort – and, like me, I can’t imagine you would change it for the world.
Trust me on the laminate flooring thing, though.
This is a sponsored post, but all views are my own and unbiased.