A pet makes a wonderful addition to any household. Cats and dogs mean furry snuggles and tons of comic relief; they can also teach us all a few things about unconditional love. Unfortunately, they also bring with them some less desirable traits: sloppy table manners, a propensity to break things, and truckloads of animal hair.
It’s true, pets can be messy. In fact, your beloved animals can actually ding the value of your property if you’re trying to sell by adding scratches to your doors and floors, funky, semipermanent smells, and other flaws that prospective buyers might just catch. However, there are precautions you can take to pet-proof your home so that their negative impact is greatly reduced.
Follow these tips to do dog-and-cat damage control.
Create a separate eating area for them
When Judy Morgan, a veterinarian in Woolwich, NJ, remodeled her kitchen, she took the opportunity to turn a room in her basement into a kitchen that caters specifically to her nine dogs and four cats. The vet took her old cabinets, a small refrigerator, a microwave, and even a Keurig machine downstairs to create an eating space just for the animals.
“They eat down there so they won’t scratch the new kitchen cabinets when they are excited and jumping up to see their food being prepared,” says Morgan. “We keep their food in the downstairs refrigerator and warm it in their own microwave. The Keurig is for making hot water to rehydrate or warm meals.”
Get smart about flooring
Not everyone has room to create a second kitchen for their cats and dogs, so Morgan also recommends bamboo flooring in common areas.
“Bamboo is much harder than most woods so it doesn’t scratch easily,” she says. “It also has no grooves between boards like other hardwood floors. Grooves are a real pain when there is a urine or poo accident.”
Tile is another good option, says Morgan, who used that material in her sunroom because it’s easy to clean. She also recommends recycled tire rubber flooring as a great basement floor covering for people with kids and pets.
“Phenomenal product, comes in large rolls, used in a lot of gyms,” Morgan says of rubber flooring. “Comes in an amazing array of colors and thicknesses.”
As you might have guessed, carpet is not a terrific choice. “We have no carpet, other than on the stairs,” notes Morgan. “Carpet holds hair and odors and is an allergy disaster for people with allergies.”
Decorate your windows wisely
Pet owners should also pay special attention to windows in their home.
“Curtains, for their own sake, should not drag the ground”, says Michelle Newfield, a veterinarian in Slidell, LA. “Exploring kittens love to climb them.”
Newfield suggests thick blinds for window coverings (think wood or even faux wood, material meant to stand the test of claws). “And be sure to secure the cords out of reach,” Newfield says.
Set up some barriers
If you have a beloved vase or rug that you fear could be ruined by your pet, the answer may be as simple as setting up a barrier to keep curious creatures out.
“Most animals explore their environment with their noses and mouths,” explains Patrick Mahaney, a vet based out of Los Angeles. “It’s common for indoor and outdoor items to be sniffed, licked, or chewed upon, so it’s crucial to use physical barriers. Baby gates, doors, screens, and other barriers can do the trick.”
Or, if it’s all but impossible to keep your pets off your gorgeous new couch, try a different type of barrier by covering it in a large throw blanket. That way, they can lounge and shed with abandon; then, when company comes, you can lift it off and see a clean couch!
Keep pet paraphernalia out of sight
There’s nothing like a gnawed-on ham bone in the center of your living room floor to ruin the ambiance. So get a cute basket in which you can stash pet toys and set it off to the side and out of sight. You can also give pets a place to call their own that doesn’t detract from your design. Place a cozy crate or dog bed in a kitchen nook, under a table, or in a corner. We’re not saying pets should neither be seen nor heard, but, well, sometimes that would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Posted by Brittney Gilbert on realtor.com
Backyard chickens—old news. Goldfish—boring. How about pot-bellied pigs? Sugar gliders? Hedgehogs? Exotic-pet owners will attest that despite the obvious contradiction, there’s nothing like communing with wildlife within the confines of your own home.
What’s up with domesticating these unusual pets? Well, people find them “fun, cute, cool, unusual or trendy,” says Laurie Hess, owner and director of the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics in Bedford Hills, NY.
Laws can be wildly different
Depending on where you live, the definition of “exotic” varies widely and wildly. Laws governing exotic pets are anything but consistent.
Good luck figuring it all out. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each has its own list of exotic animals that it says are safe to keep as pets. Eighteen states ban exotic animals as pets. Born Free USA lists the regulations for each state.
We’ve hunted down six out-of-the-ordinary pets for you to adopt. Before you head over to Etsy for a custom-engraved, blinged-out animal collar to outfit your exotic new best friend, make note of these crucial details:
If you happen to know a hedgehog personally, you know it’s a new thing to keep them as pets. Previously, these little fellows lived wild in the African continent. Like porcupines, they are covered in quills to protect themselves from predators. Hedgehogs are generally shy and skittish. When threatened, they will curl into a tight, prickly ball. You’ll have to channel your inner hedgehog whisperer if you ever want them to be comfortable enough to relax and uncurl. Also, as nocturnal animals, they are great for insomniacs.
Turns out animals that look like flying squirrels can be domesticated too. Known as sugar gliders, these are marsupials hailing from Australia and New Guinea who sail and glide as their mode of transport. Sugar gliders are needy ones who bond closely with their owners. But they won’t be down for nighttime cuddles, since they’re nocturnal.
Ferrets are small, furry mammals that are a lot like cats and dogs. Ferret care requires a lot of time and commitment—they need four hours of activity out of their cage every day.
Although the charming chinchilla is a nocturnal rodent, its perky personality is relatively easy to train with treats. Chinchillas, however, are not for children. “[Chinchillas] are small and fragile,” says veterinarian Ron Hines in Texas. “If they are squeezed too tight, they will bite.” Chinchillas are prone to arthritis, so keep yours active and with a solid-bottom cage.
Dragons—that is, bearded dragons
Iguanas, chameleons, and geckos are popular lizards to domesticate. PetSmart says bearded dragons are great for beginner pet owners, because they are “gentle in nature, so they will learn to enjoy interacting with their pet parents.” Several websites also list them as being “classroom-friendly.”
The big care detail for lizards is sufficient UVB lighting so their little bodies maintain the right temperature. Oh, and lizards eat live crickets, so these guys aren’t for the squeamish.
There’s a plethora of puny pigs that can be purchased as pets—pot-bellied are the largest. Since you’ll probably keep your pig outdoors, you’ll need a large pen with insulated housing to avoid temperature extremes. Indoor pigs can be trained to use a litter pan. Designate a room where the animal can be left unsupervised. In the wild, pigs spend their days foraging and rooting for food, so scheduled exercise time is paramount.
Don’t take just anyone’s advice—ask an expert
Exotic animals have more intricate care and feeding requirements than cats and dogs.
“Don’t ask a pet store about medical care,” Hess says. “Exotic pets have very specific care requirements and will stay healthy and be less expensive to care for if you see a trained veterinarian for their care.”
Your town may not have a qualified vet, so check the websites of the Association of Avian Veterinarians, Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, and the American College of Zoological Medicine for a specialist to help you care for your furry, feathered, scaly, or prickly friend.
Posted by Patricia-Anne Tom on realtor.com
Move over, man caves. The catio has arrived.
Anyone interested in feline enrichment knows how much cats love the outdoors. They also know how risky it is for cats to be free-roaming — they can be hit by cars, trapped in garages and just plain lost. Then there are the birds they kill (although windows also do major damage to bird populations).
Some of the world’s most forward-thinking cat owners have devised a solution: the catio.
It’s the animal-lover’s answer to the man cave, a space set aside to keep our feline companions safe and happy.
Basically, catios are screened-in porches glorified with stairs, shelves, cushions and scratching posts — as well as sturdy walls, roofs and floors to keep cats in and other critters out. Catios come in all shapes and sizes and can be homemade, custom made or ordered online.
From these enclosed perches, cats can mock-chirp at birds and squirrels all the livelong day without anyone coming to harm.
‘Go on out; it’s beautiful out’
Jennifer Hillman of Seattle has two catios: one built in 2001 when she moved to a new house and did not want her five cats roaming the neighborhood, and the other built six years ago where her shed once stood. They’re connected by a little tunnel.
The cats tend to visit after meals, and Hillman jokes that she sometimes feels like a pestering mom — “go on out; it’s beautiful out!”
She figures her catios cost about $500 each, mostly for wood and wire.
Her catios were part of a recent Catio Tour in Seattle sponsored and organized by The Humane Society of the United States, where Hillman is director of strategic advocacy and campaigns; PAWS, a Seattle-area rescue and wildlife rehabilitation center; and Catio Spaces, a Seattle company that designs and builds catios.
Cynthia Chomos, founder of Catio Spaces, built her first catio in 2013 for her orange-and-white tabby, Serena, to “experience the sights and sounds and smells and stimulation of the natural world.”
Now Serena follows the sun between two catios — one in the backyard facing east, and one in a window box facing west — and Chomos designs and oversees the building of catios for other homes. They tend to measure 6-by-8 or 8-by-10 feet and cost roughly $2,500 to $5,000.
People can also buy Catio Spaces’ do-it-yourself plans for $49.95, with $5 going to an animal welfare organization.
One of Chomos’ most interesting projects was the building of a 26-foot catio that wrapped around a house to keep two “serial bird killers” and their two “canine cohorts” indoors. The owner — who can walk through the catio to reach the backyard — has since added a chicken to the mix, Chomos has heard.
‘A vet bill is way more’
Although that sounds like the cat’s meow, one catio set-up that would be hard to beat belongs to Dan Reeder, who built and bolted a three-story catio townhouse to his own house and connected it via a long tunnel to a catio large enough for Dan to join the cats in the backyard.
The retired math teacher and paper mache artist figures he spent about $3,000 on the structures, which are well-fortified with wire mesh even under the main catio floor, because “I didn’t want a possum to appear in the house.”
The catios were finished in time for his cat Riley to spend her last summer outdoors before she died at the age of 20.
His other two cats, Max and Eddie, continue to enjoy their outdoor time, and the catios have curbed Reeder’s guilt over Max waiting for him to play. “I used to feel guilty all day,” Reeder said.
Jean White of Bellevue, WA, bought her catio, which was also on the recent tour, for about $1,200 from the website Cats on Deck.
“It may sound pricey, but a vet bill is way more,” said White, who lives near a bus route and in an area where there are coyotes and raccoons.
Like most catios, hers is connected to the house by cat doors — in her case, one in the bathroom window and one connected to a sliding-glass door.
“Margo, the Siamese, loves it,” she said. When Jean first adopted Scout, a black-and-white tuxedo cat, she didn’t realize there was a cat door in the wall and thought Margo was disappearing into a curtain.
“She was so surprised!” Then Scout figured it out, and now the cats alternate between lounging and chasing each other in a loop, day and night.
Posted by Melissa Alisson on Zillow
Selling your home is a real art form these days. The marketing! The staging! Yet there’s one thing that you, Joe or Sally Homeowner, often forget: Would-be buyers don’t care how much you love your pets. And they’re not interested in seeing — or smelling — evidence of Fido or Fifi.
“People are really, really sensitive about pets,” says Don Aslett, owner of a cleaning businesses and author of “Pet Clean-up Made Easy.” “One of the biggest reasons people will or won’t buy a house is odor, believe it or not,” says Aslett, who also operates the Museum of Clean in Pocatello, Idaho.
So how do you scrub all evidence of your pets from your home before you sell it, especially if you’ve lived there with them for a decade or more?
Step away from that can of Lysol. We’ve got some expert tips that really work.
Make your pet scarce
If at all possible, keep your animals out of the house whenever you’re showing your home, the National Association of Realtors advises. There’s nothing more off-putting for a homebuyer than opening the door to an aggressive or hyperactive dog. If the pet must be at home, put it away, and make sure the real-estate agent knows exactly where it is. Remember: Few buyers think your dog or cat is as charming as you do.
Go on a hair hunt
“The first thing that you want to get rid of is evidence of hair,” says Julia Szabo, author of “Pretty Pet-Friendly: Easy Ways to Keep Spot’s Digs Stylish & Spotless.”
“You’ve got to get a really good machine to pick up stuff,” Szabo says. She recommendsDyson’s Animal or Bissell’s Pet Hair Eraser. (Bissell also makes the Spot Bot Pet, a portable deep-cleaning machine that can remove pet stains from carpet and upholstery while the owner walks away.)
If you’re going to “stage” your home using your own furniture, vacuuming alone doesn’t always cut it. Szabo recommends checking out Sticky Sheets — big, adhesive sheets, like lint rollers, that pick up everything on sofas and chairs. “It’s almost like you’re Brazilian waxing the cracks in the furniture.”
And don’t forget to vacuum and launder your drapes. They can hold plenty of hair and smells.
Find trouble spots on the floor
Your floors are going to pose the biggest challenge to de-petting your home.
How do you know that you’re locating all the trouble spots you need to address? Here’s an advanced move: Buy a battery-powered ultraviolet (aka “black”) light like the Stink-Free Stink Finder (about $18) or Bramton’s Simple Solution Spot Spotter (about $12), Aslett says. Used in complete darkness, these lights will show everywhere that your pet has peed, sprayed or vomited. Mark the spots with masking tape so you can focus on them.
Of course, follow all directions, and test cleaners on a small, less-seen area first to test for colorfastness.
Tackle the carpeting
“If you have carpeting, such as wall-to-wall carpeting, that traps a lot of odor and a lot of hair,” Szabo says. The padding beneath the carpet can often grab and hold odor and stains, too. Urine can even seep into the plywood or presswood subfloor and into places like the carpet tack strip (usually raw wood), cleaning guru Aslett says.
The bad news? For serious pet stains, even professional carpet cleaning won’t do the trick. In fact, adding water (think carpet shampooing, or even a humid or rainy day) can simply “reactivate” the smells. Not what you want at an open house!
The good news? You can try to extract it all.
Aslett highly recommends applying a cleaning product that is a “bacteria/enzyme digester.” These products literally enter the carpet or other problem area and break down the stains and smells. Don’t expect instant gratification; often you have to apply them and leave them to dry for a day or two. Aslett suggests Simple Solution Stain and Odor Remover by Bramton or Urine Erase.
When the “stain” part of the pet stain is worse than any odor, bubbling oxygen cleaners are a particularly good choice, Aslett says. These use hydrogen peroxide to break down stains and odors. One product that our experts really love — Szabo has used it successfully both on hard and carpeted surfaces — is Get Serious! It not only removes the odor and stain, but also pulls out the pheromone that encourages pets to visit the spot again, she says.
Clean up your hardwoods
Some seemingly hard surfaces will absorb urine — flat- or matte-finish latex paint, unfinished wood, unsealed concrete and vinyl tile between the cracks. In these cases, where urine has been absorbed and can linger, use a chemical deodorizer and cleaner first, Aslett says. If the odor problem is quite serious, seal, varnish or repaint the surface afterward to help lock in any odors.
Another hardwood floors tip: Many animals don’t love the smell of citrus, Szabo says, and they will avoid it. To clean her hardwood floors and the wooden legs of furniture nicely while also keeping her pets off of them, Szabo scrubs them with citrus after she’s juiced lemons and oranges for drinks. She then wipes with a damp sponge to pick up any residue. “No amount of Murphy’s Oil Soap got my floors as sparkling,” she says. “It’s labor intensive, I’m not going to lie. But even if you do just around the edges” — for instance, by a wall you’ve just painted — it should help “corral” your animals, she says.
Touch up the walls
If you’ve been in your house for a while, pay close attention to your walls: Animals sometimes like to spray them or rub up against them. The oils in their coats can discolor them over time and leave lasting odors. If the problem is subtle, trying wiping it clean. Aslett recommends a water-soluble deodorant such as Nilodor Surface Deodorizer.
If stains are stubborn, wash and then repaint with a non-VOC paint (one that doesn’t off-gas), Szabo suggests. But if you’ve lived in the house for a long time, you might have to tear out and replace some drywall to get rid of the entrenched animal scent.
Clear the air
A great way to improve the atmosphere of your rooms, Szabo says, is to clean your home’s furnace or air-conditioning filters. Then take essential oils — only the real stuff, from a health-food store — and dab several drops on the filter before replacing it. “This a wonderful, great way to pump scent through the air and is less obvious than, say, lighting a bunch of candles, which screams, ‘I’m hiding something.'” Szabo recommends lavender oil or patchouli. “They operate very nicely on a person’s olfactory sense.”
Think you need to go deeper? Get your ducts cleaned before showing the home. A home’s air ducts can collect everything from animal dander and hair to skin cells, mold and dust — things that will agitate a particularly sensitive would-be homebuyer. Also, if you have cats and have been using clay kitty litter, definitely get your ducts cleaned, Szabo says. The micro-dust generated from clay litter goes everywhere, she says. (And if you’re still in the house, switch to a non-clay litter.)
Discover the scent to sell
“Realtors are always saying to bake an apple pie if you’re selling your house, because it works,” Szabo says. When selling a house that’s had pets, what you don’t want is for it to seem like perfumes or pies are trying to mask anything. So, a clean smell is great.
But to add some quick atmosphere, bake an apple for 15 minutes with a cinnamon stick inside it, she says. Or, take a stick or two of cinnamon and put them in a pot of water and gently simmer it on the stovetop. You can also throw in some cloves and orange rind. “This is kind of a Christmasy smell that most people like.”
Get out the scrubbing bubbles
A lot of people keep the litter box in a bathroom, where over time the porcelain and grout can get stained. A great way to remove stains, Szabo says, is to pour out some baking soda, then some dishwashing liquid and finally add some plain white vinegar. You’ll get a foaming explosion of acidic suds. “It’s like a natural bleach and it will draw out the odor,” she says. It’s cheap, effective and avoids the use of noxious chemicals.
Also add some baking soda and vinegar to the washing machine (with detergent) when washing dog beds and other materials animals have used. “It really does cut down on odors,” she says.
Sometimes you just want to throw a bag over an odor. One of those places is the mattress where an animal might often sleep but which you need to leave in the house for staging.
Use Get Serious! on the mattress — apply and then blot, Szabo says. If the mattress is a serious challenge, Szabo recommends a mattress protector by Crypton to seal in “whatever ick might be in there, for the purposes of showing the house.”
Here’s another way to bag odors: Moso Natural Air Purifying Bags. The burlap bags ($9.95-$22.95; they look a bit like pillows) are filled with bamboo charcoal. Hang one anywhere you want to eliminate odors. The bag works like a low-tech dehumidifier, swallowing moisture and stink. Put it in closets, where pet smells can gather. To refresh it, simply hang it in the sunshine.
Consider buying an ozone machine
Some people swear by ozone generators — machines that generate the gas ozone — as a way to clean up indoor air pollution, and some companies sell ozone-cleaning services. Be wary of these. The Environmental Protection Agency says,”There is evidence to show that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone is not effective at removing many odor-causing chemicals.”
Call in a pro
If urine damage is really bad and has occurred repeatedly over a long period, it’s really hard to remove the evidence, Aslett says. Seriously consider calling in a professional deodorizing technician, not just a carpet cleaner. Though sometimes the carpet can be saved, “In most cases replacement (of carpeting and padding, and sealing of the subfloor beneath) is the most realistic solution to widespread urine damage,” Aslett writes.
Some people resist the cost; they shouldn’t, Aslett says. “You’ve got a $400,000 house – and you’re going to let a $2,000 carpet ruin the sale?” he says. Put down new carpet.
One final tip, as you look toward your next home: “The best cure for pet cleanup is N-O-W,” Aslett says. At your next home, jump on any of Spot’s accidents ASAP, so you’ll have less to worry about in the future.
Follow these tips, and you’ll be wagging your tail when the homebuyers coming knocking and the offers come pouring in.
This article was originally published by Christopher Solomon on MSN Real Estate. See it here.
As the housing market continues to recover, a bevy of interesting trends have been emerging in the sector, affecting everything from buyer and seller behavior to design and everything in between.
Try before you buy
Want to spend quality time in the home you’re interested in buying? Perhaps spend the night and check things out before putting a single penny down? Real estate agents are now letting some qualified, serious buyers do just that! And this unusual strategy, which can ultimately help buyers make an informed decision, is catching on in markets across the country.
Dogs are people, too
Builders aren’t just turning to upgrades and financial carrots to help offset rising buying costs. They’re also getting more creative with the “extras” by taking pet friendly to a new level. In fact, some high-end apartment buildings offer pet food-centered room service menus, and in New York City, MiMA development’s Dog City will even walk, groom and arrange play dates for residents’ dogs.
Make Me Move
In a market that’s as tight as this one, sellers know they have the upper hand. And they’re capitalizing on the momentum by listing their “fantasy” price — the price it would take to persuade them to sell — using Zillow’s Make Me Move® feature.
While you likely know that screened porches and outdoor living rooms continue to interest homeowners, you may not realize that master bedroom closets designed with a coveted, boutique-like feel — think illuminated rods, compartmentalized storage, shoe walls, vanity areas and other focal points — are also becoming a virtual must-have, according to architects and high-end home builders.
This article was originally published by Vera Gibbons on Zillow Blog. See the original article here.