Create the Perfect Pet-Friendly Home

  • Cat shelves and trees, built-in dog crates, and smart-home monitoring systems are among today’s popular pet-friendly modifications for inside the home.
  • “Catios” and dog runs can help pets make the most of outdoor spaces.

Create the Perfect Pet-Friendly HomePets are not only members of our families, they are in fact the No. 5 reason that drives people to buy homes, according to House Logic. To help keep pets safe and happy within and outside of the home, there are a variety of amenities that owners can add.

Some of these home modifications are easy work, and some may take a bit of time and money, and perhaps a hammer or two. The good news is that there are more and more ways to create enriching environments for your pets within your home, as the pet-product market is booming.


Cat Shelves

Cats love to be up high, so what better way to allow your feline to follow its natural instincts of climbing and balancing than to install shelves? Shelves made for cats can be installed anywhere, and they come in many different styles. Or what about installing walkways high up in a room with tall ceilings? CatsPlay will give you plenty of ideas for modular systems, perches, and shelves. You’ll even see a rope bridge and cat-inspired decals that work in conjunction with the shelving at Cool Cat Tree Plans.

Cat Trees

We all have seen the basic cat tree that provides areas for cats to sit, sleep, and scratch. But you could go one step further and purchase (or make) a cat tree that is also actually a tree! Called Pet Tree Houses, they are described as, “aesthetically pleasing feline tree houses … a realistic outdoor experience … making them feel more at home in their natural environment.”

If that seems a bit much, head on over to for 10 ideas on how to make your own cat tree, minus the tree. And check out Catster to read more about what cat expert Jackson Galaxy recommends to help make your home more cat-friendly.

Built-in Dog Crates

Dog crates are a popular and useful way to keep canines safe and comfortable when their humans aren’t around or are otherwise occupied. (You can read more about the benefits of crate training at The Humane Society website.) Because dogs are pack animals, they find the den-like quality of the crate enjoyable; but what isn’t enjoyable to most homeowners is the challenge of incorporating a dog crate into their home.

Good news: One of the latest pet-friendly home-décor trends is the built-in dog crate. An end table that doubles as a dog crate; dog crates built into spaces (like under the stairs); built-in crates under cabinets in pantries, laundry rooms, and kitchens — there are really no rules about how or where to incorporate a dog crate or a dog bed. Houzz has more inspiring ideas for built-in dog crates.

Stairs and Ramps for Older Dogs

The older dog faces the same challenges as the older human and may need a little assistance climbing steps and getting up onto the couch or bed. Most pet-product companies have a variety of stairs available, depending on the size of the dog and the available space.

If you’re thinking about building your own dog stairs, head over to Pinterest for inspiration. If you have steps to, or in, your home, you may want to consider buying or building a ramp for your dog; The Nest shows you how to do it on your own. Make & Build Dog Stuff offers additional instructions and design information.

Smart-Home Products for Pets

Do you worry about your pet when you are away from home? Products from PetChatz sync with a computer or a smart phone to allow owners to virtually watch and talk with pets. (And pets can call you!) You can even dispense treats and play games with your four-legged friend while you are away.


Cat Patios

A “catio” (cat patio) allows cats to go outside safely. It is an enclosure that extends into outdoor space from a window, a door, or a patio. These types of enclosures can help enrich the lives of indoor cats by providing outdoor territory and can also cut down on local bird deaths. “Over 2.4 billion birds are killed by free roaming cats a year,” according to Catio Spaces. Head over to Animal Planet for more information about building your own catio and where to buy equipment. Catio Spaces also has DIY plans — from window boxes to larger-scale structures and tunnels.

Dog Runs

Exterior dog runs serve a very similar purpose as the indoor crate: keeping your canine friend safe and secure while you are not around.

A proper dog run will provide shade and protection from the elements and should be sturdy and spacious, with enough room for your dog to move freely around. House Logic’s “Better Than a Dog Run — Yard Ideas for Your Four-Legged Family Member” article offers more ideas on structures and modifications you can make to your outdoor spaces to make them more suitable for your pets. And DIY Network provides information on how to build a shaded dog run, from tools to materials to a step-by-step explanation of the process. Pinterest has more dog-run ideas that may inspire you.

(Photo: iStock/meteo021)

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