You've finally got your apartment designed just the way you love it. The focus is on your cool collections - or maybe your clean, streamlined minimalism - and you've already got plans to entertain. But you're worried that your much-loved Fido or Fluffy would rather chew, scratch or drool on your new sofa than admire it. Can you share an apartment with a pet and keep both of you happy? Yes, you can. Read on to find out how.
1. Find an Apartment with Pet Amenities
Finding a city apartment is tough enough. You might feel the deck is stacked against you when you've got a furry companion in tow, but some new condos and rental buildings have discovered that amenities like pet grooming stations, rooftop dog runs and even daycare services will actually entice pet owners. These features can make apartment living easier on your pet with very little effort on your part. Experienced real estate agents should be up-to-date on which buildings are pet-friendly. You can also add pet-friendly search terms to your online searches, and local ASPCA services can point you in the right direction.
2. Keep Upholstery in Mind
To make sure your expensive new couch doesn't look like shredded wheat in a week - or take a week to de-fur - choose upholstered pieces wisely. Avoid nappy fabrics like microsuede and velvet, as fur clings to them and sticks to the next person to sit down. Tightly-woven fabrics and non-fabric materials like leather are easier to keep clean.
3. Don't Compromise on Cool Design
When choosing pet beds, scratching posts and dishes, you're no longer limited to cheap-looking items in garish primary colors. Thousands of devoted design-loving folks have stepped into the void in recent years to create pet furniture that's just as chic as your own decor. A quick search on even the most mainstream shopping outlets like Amazon can yield perfectly coordinated accessories for your four-legged roommate.
Brilliant minds are also at work creating high-tech solutions to enhance life with your pet. Pet cams matched with apps come in all shapes, sizes and levels of interactivity. Some, like the Furbo camera/app pair, can even dispense treats remotely.
If you're lucky enough to be able to do any remodeling, built-ins are as much a boon for pets as people. From food and water stations in the kitchen and multi-level crash-pads to custom built-in litter boxes in bathrooms and basements, they're a very cool way to seamlessly integrate your apartment's design with your pet's needs.
4. Pet-Proof Your Apartment
To maintain your perfect pad, you'll want to pet-proof it to head off problems - or at least nip them in the bud when they do arise. Cats need to scratch to keep their claws sharp. A variety of scratching posts is necessary to keep them from shredding the furniture. (Cats like to have options.) Double-sided tape can work in a pinch to stop your cat from scratching a spot he's already discovered, and a water-soluble adhesive tape like Sticky Paws won't leave tape residue on your furniture.
To keep dogs from digging up your potted plants - or just being where you'd rather they not be - a sprinkling of cayenne pepper will do the trick. It's a natural deterrent that won't hurt your pet (or your plants). There are also nontoxic deterrent sprays you can buy, such as Grannick's Bitter Apple Spray.
5. Make Safety a Priority
As for those plants, be sure to do your research before bringing them into your home. Many popular houseplants are poisonous to dogs, including jade, aloe vera and rosemary. Lilies, carnations, daises and roses can be toxic to cats. However, there are just as many cool indoor plants that are totally pet-safe. Check the ASPCA's list before you unleash your green thumb.
To make sure your four-legged friends don't follow their curiosity into trouble, install locks on closet and sliding doors keep kitty from wriggling in where she's not welcome. Store toxic household products up high in a hard-to-access place, like on a shelf above the bathroom door, to keep them out of paw's reach.
If you live on a high floor, your views might be great, but many pets aren't wired to understand the concept of breathtaking vistas. High-rise syndrome is real; it means cats and smaller dogs don't realize it's a long way down until it's too late. Make sure there are screens completely protecting windows before you open them, and keep an eye on pets whenever the windows are open.
6. Know How to Deal with Odors
With pets come pet odors. As most owners know, sometimes you don't have to see Spot run (or even hear him) to know he's in residence. Though the odors might not be apparent to you, your guests will sniff them out quickly. Be disciplined about keeping your space clean and get some help from products meant to keep pet smells at bay.
A top-loaded litter box like the one made by ModKo will accommodate more litter so cats are encouraged to bury their waste, which cuts down on tracking and keeps odors out of the air. Lining your cat box with baking soda is another time-tested way to absorb odors. You can also sprinkle baking soda into rugs once a month or so. It will sink in and absorb odors and can be vacuumed right up for a new application.
Pee happens. Blot quickly and well, and don't rub. When you clean the area, avoid using products with ammonia, as its urine-like smell might encourage cats and dogs to return for a repeat performance. Use cleaning products with enzymes that will neutralize and dissolve uric acid - otherwise you'll only mask the smell temporarily.
If you've got a dog that can't be taken outside during the day, indoor grass products like Fresh Patch Disposable Potty Grass can do the trick in an emergency. The clever patch of real, though disposable, grass absorbs urine and odors.
7. Don't Forget Exercise and Socialization
Dogs need to get outside and walk for more reason than one. Your sanity level, as well as your pup's, will greatly benefit from multiple daily walks with you (or a dog-walker or pet-sitter if you're crunched for time).
This may the root of the issue if your dog has a barking problem - and you can be sure your neighbors will thank you. Barking and destructive behavior can signal loneliness, boredom or separation anxiety, as well as a need for more exercise or stimulation. Doggy daycare can keep Fifi occupied and happy when you're not able to be on hand for playtime.
Dogs also need to socialize with other dogs. A local park or dog run can be a great place for both you and your pup to be social. Just make sure you follow a dog park's rules regarding size, registration and behavior. Sites like BringFido.com can help you scout out the parks and dog runs near you.
Exercise can also keep your pet from tearing back and forth across your beautiful hardwood floors (a sure bet for annoying the neighbors, too). If your critter's doing sprints, thick or high-pile rugs can block the noise well and withstand wear and tear.
8. Help Your Pet De-Stress
Cats often experience anxiety after a big move or change in surroundings (including houseguests or the addition of another pet, for example). Cat owners swear by Feliway, a plug-in that stimulates your cat's natural pheromones to help him cope with stress. If you have a stressed pet and nothing seems to help, Bach Flower Rescue Remedy for Pets is a naturally calming mix of vegetable and flower extracts that pet parents swear is a safe and effective shortcut to mellow.
Michelle is a New York-based contributing writer at CityRealty who has worked extensively with lifestyle brands like Seventeen, Country Living, Harper's Bazaar and iVillage. She writes about culture, New York City neighborhoods, real estate, style, design and technology among other topics. She has lived in a number of major US cities on both coasts and in between and loves all things relating to urbanism and culture.