It all started with that kitten you rescued five years ago. Later, you adopted a Great Dane. Then a stray cat appeared on your doorstep the same month you inherited your grandma’s Chihuahua.
Now you’ve got a pack of animals to manage, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Read on for 20 tips on how to organize your space for any assortment of furry family members:
1. Provide Multiple Beds.
Place several dog and cat beds around the home so everyone has a place to nap. Lots of beds may even make the sofa less tempting.
2. Cover Furniture.
Keep pet hair off the couch and chairs with strategically placed fleece blankets and throws.
3. Store Food in Sealed Containers.
Label plastic bins for different food types. Store in the pantry or on a kitchen island shelf.
4. Separate Feeding Locations.
To avoid food aggression, don’t feed all pets in one room, since cats and dogs can be territorial.
5. Organize Toys.
Keep chew toys inside the house in a basket and tug toys outside to avoid romping dogs getting boisterous in the home. Keep squeaky toys inside at night to avoid disturbing sleeping neighbors.
6. Coordinate Leashes and Supplies.
Hang a coat rack by the front door for leashes, doggie sweaters and poop bags.
7. Encourage Slow Introductions.
Allow new pets to sniff each other out through the bottom of a bedroom door for a few days. Then separate with a baby gate until all animals are comfortable.
8. Rethink That Expensive Rug.
You may want to opt for durability rather than style on that sofa and loveseat too. Having multiple pets increases the likelihood of the occasional cat throw-up or dog diarrhea disaster.
9. Anticipate Muddy Paws.
Keep a bin of towels by the back door along with a spray bottle to quickly clean up muddy prints.
10. Maintain Order with Baby Gates.
Laura Marshment of Kansas City, MO, has gates to her office, kitchen and a bedroom to keep six dogs in line. “I call it a gated community,” she says “Sometimes it gets hectic having everyone out at the same time.”
11. Soothe with Music.
Play soft music to calm the pack. Pop in a CD from Through a Dog’s Ear and Through a Cat’s Ear, music and sound therapies for pet anxiety. Or try the iCalmDog, a portable player pre-loaded with four hours of pet-pacifying tunes.
12. Invest in a Vacuum Cleaner.
Multiple pets leave behind loads of hair and fur. Check out online vacuum reviews http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/02/the-vacuum-cleaners-that-were-top-dogs-in-our-pet-hair-tests/index.htm to find the best upright for you. Tip: Go bagless.
13. Organize a Folder for Pet Records.
Keep records of veterinary visits, adoption papers, licenses, microchip registration and pet insurance policies in a divided binder. “Trying to look for paperwork for four different dogs can get really hairy,” says Debi Spangler of Hollidaysburg, PA. “If there’s an emergency, I can grab that binder and go.”
14. Keep Air Fresh.
Just because you’re nose-blind to dog and cat odors doesn’t mean your friends won’t notice. Launder dog bed covers, throw rugs and furniture covers weekly. Keep air freshener flowing, light scented candles and open windows on windy days.
15. Feed Cats on High.
It only takes a few seconds for a dog to scarf down the cat’s dinner. “We feed out cat up on a stool,” says Diana Mansell of Phoenix. Mansell feeds the cat first, out of reach of her two dogs.
16. Provide a Litter Box for Each Cat.
Cats like clean litter boxes so make sure you have enough of them. For example, three cats = three litter boxes.
17. Keep Litter Boxes Away from Canines.
Few dogs can resist the crunchy confections in the kitty litter box. Place the box inside a closet with the door open a few inches and secured with a hook and eye latch so only cats can slip through. Or put the box in a closed room secured with a baby gate or accessible by cat door.
18. Set Up a Separate Room for Cats.
If your dogs aren’t cat-friendly and you’ve got an extra room, give cats their own pad with cat trees, beds and window-ledge views. If the cats are safe with dogs but still need privacy, install a cat door in a bedroom to allow kitties to slink in and out as they please.
19. Stock a Pet First Aid Kit.
Some items to include: Gauze of various sizes; scissors; first-aid tape; wound disinfectant; antibiotic ointment; eye wash solution; hydrogen peroxide; cotton balls or swabs; cortisone spray or cream; thermometer.
20. Keep Emergency Information Handy.
Post 24-hour emergency vet clinic contact information and driving directions on the fridge for easy access in medical emergencies. Don’t forget poison control center numbers.