Creature comforts: remodeling for pets

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | June 20, 2013

According to ServiceMagic.com's 2011 survey, nearly a quarter of Americans have remodeled their homes with their pets in mind. By far, pet doors -- ranging in price from around $30 to over $500 -- are the most common renovation, comprising 43 percent of pet remodels. But another 12 percent of those surveyed spent up to $1 million on remodeling for pets -- projects like a room-of-pup's-own or an elaborate indoor jungle gym for finicky felines.

From classy catwalks overhead to heated floors under paws -- here are some popular remodels for the fur babies.

From practical to plush: remodeling for dogs

Few pets are fussed over as much as humans' best friend, the family dog. When it comes to spending money on remodeling for pets, dog owners spare no expense. Gone are the days when the dog was forced to sleep in the yard, unless she's got her own mini-McMansion out there.

Built-in sleeping quarters in the house may help keep pups out of your bed at night, off the couch or out from underfoot when they're napping. Favorite places for built-in dog beds are beneath cabinets and counters in these rooms:

Dog showers are another popular pet home improvement. They are typically installed in the laundry room or mudroom where you can corner canines before they trail dirty paws or funky odors through the rest of the house. Popular bathing facility features for Fido include the following:

  • outdoor showers
  • faucets with on/off levers
  • tiled puppy potty areas with drains in the floor
  • low, tiled showers with handheld shower heads
  • raised-height, professional, stainless-steel bathing stations with a ramp for the dog

Storage and feeding stations keep food, grooming and other pet supplies organized and close at hand -- and water and kibble bowls from getting knocked over. The following solutions work well in kitchens, mudrooms, patio/pool bathrooms or laundry rooms.

  • designated cabinet drawer for storing kibble
  • built-in food and water bowl station under cabinets
  • built-in pantry for dog food, treats, pet care supplies and toys
  • dog closet or armoire with hooks to hang leashes, harnesses and towels
  • slide-out drawer in the toe-kick area of kitchen cabinets for installing feeding bowls

Flooring choices can make a difference to your sanity and cleaning bills if you have dogs. Carpeting may be cushy for you and your canines, but it can be a nightmare when it comes to maintenance. Consider these flooring options, instead:

  • waterproof, resilient vinyl flooring with watertight seams
  • radiant heated floors in easy-care materials for keeping puppy warm in winter
  • tile -- cool for doggie in summer, but it can absorb urine in the grout if accidents are not cleaned right away
  • hardwood or laminate with hard coating to prevent claw scratches and tight seams to prevent accidental leakage

Other pet remodels include bulit-in devices to keep pooch segregated when necessary: custom gates; half-height, peek-a-boo pocket doors, and dutch doors. And for aging in place -- since your senior dog probably isn't planning on moving to assisted living unless you're coming along -- consider these helpful renovations:

  • lighted steps for dogs with weakening vision
  • long, low-riser staircases
  • ramps for canine companions with back problems

Functional and feline-friendly: remodeling for cats

As every cat owner learns early on, cats make themselves at home anywhere -- usually in places you'd rather not have them. However, all cat-lovers know that kitties also have high expectations. According to a new website from Bob Walker and Frances Mooney whose 1950's uber cat-friendly renovated home has been featured on Animal Planet: "In ancient Egypt, cats were treated like gods. Modern felines expect no less."

While many of the remodels for dog feeding stations and supply storage areas mentioned above are applicable to cats, here are some remodels that are expressly designed with felines in mind:

  • Litter box hide-away. Install kitty's box in a cabinet with a cat access portal, or create a "cat restroom" under the stairs with a cat door and access so you can remove the box for cleaning.
  • Water station. Fountains are increasingly popular, despite the fact that many a cat has been found drinking from the toilet bowl when thirsty. Some pet owners have bubblers that are plumbed directly into the home water line.
  • Cat-safe window treatments. Drapes can be a favorite climbing device for cats with claws -- instead, choose blinds and shades without cords to avoid dangle, tangle and strangle. As every cat owner knows, young and old kitties alike are notorious for their obsession with strings.
  • Climbing attractions. Your sheer drapery aside, cats should have something they are allowed to climb and heights they can scale. Install shelves on the wall that form steps they can leap one to the next and that lead to a ledge, kitty window seat or other vantage point where they can watch the world go by or take a safe catnap. Bob and Frances accept a limited number of commissions each year to renovate your home with their innovative catwalks considered by pet behaviorists to be the ultimate stimulating environment for your feline friends.

Sound over-the-top? You probably have pets you adore if you've read this far, so if your petless friends or relatives give you grief for allocating part of the remodeling budget to your animal companions' needs, tell them to put a muzzle on it.

About the Author

Iris Price is a single Baby Boomer who specializes in writing about self-realization, motivation and home remodeling. She recently bought a new-construction home she shares with a bossy cat and a neurotic dog. When not attending to their every need, she's busy learning how even a brand new home has plenty of room for improvement.