Archives for Pets
You’ve uncluttered your home, and now you’re making sure everything you’re saving has its defined storage place. You’ll usually want to store the things you use most often in easy-to-reach places — but please make sure you’re also storing things safely. Here are some of the issues you’ll want to consider.
A recent study by Safe Kids found that parents know the importance of storing medications up and away from children — but emergency department visits for accidental poisonings are still increasing. What’s going on? Children are ingesting medicines found on the floor, in purses, in pillboxes, etc. They get into these medicines not just at their own homes, but also at the homes of grandparents or other relatives.
So when you’re looking at storage requirements, be sure to think about those pillboxes and purses. And, remember that pets can also get into medications.
For more information, check out the Up and Away website, which reminds us to put every medicine and vitamin container away every time you use it — even if you’re going to use it again in just a few hours.
Most everyone knows to keep things like pesticides and antifreeze in places where children and pets can’t get to them. But other hazardous products might escape attention.
For example, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a safety alert warning about the dangers of single-load liquid laundry packets. These colorful packets look like toys to children, but they often contain chemicals that are dangerous if ingested — so they need to be kept safely away from kids.
If you have pets, please be aware of the materials that may be toxic to them, and store those items appropriately. The Pet Poison Hotline has a detailed list of pet toxins for cats and dogs, including items like chocolate, matches, nicotine, and mothballs. Since so many foods can be poisonous to pets, you’ll want to be sure you have a pet-proof garbage can, one that’s tucked away where pets can’t get into it, or pets that are trained to never raid the garbage can.
Furniture, televisions and other heavy items
Living in earthquake territory, I’ve learned about the perils of toppling bookcases and other heavy items. The Dare to Prepare website reminds readers to tightly secure everything that could injure someone if it falls — as well as any fragile items you would hate to see damaged. The site provides information on how to properly secure bookcases, filing cabinets, etc.
But, until recently, I hadn’t thought about how easily children can get crushed if a television or a piece of heavy furniture were to fall on them — which can happen when a child reaches for something like a remote or climbs onto the furniture to get to an attractive item. The Georgia Department of Public Health has written about these issues, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission has a Tip-Over Information Center. Safe Kids has a report providing extensive information about the TV tip-over problem and how to avoid it.
Where do you store plastic bags? Do you dispose of dry cleaning bags immediately, in places where young children and pets can’t get hold of them? These bags can present a suffocation risk, so please handle them appropriately. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that you “tie plastic bags in a knot before storing them out of reach and out of sight” if you have children ages 6-12 months.
Being well organized also gives you the opportunity to be more safe in your home. Storing items securely and safely can help to prevent accidents.
When you leave your home, you may have a babysitter, pet-sitter, or house-sitter watch over your children, pets, or things. Completing an information sheet with important contact and vital data can keep you and the sitter organized and ready for anything.
You can print and fill out these forms exactly as they are, or use them as inspiration for creating your own.
The three hens who live in this modernist dwelling must have very refined aesthetic sensibilities. I can easily imagine them inside the coop perched atop tiny Eames shell rockers discussing the exhibition of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel collection at the Portland Art Museum.
I’ll freely admit that the coop is a thing of beauty, but not everything with a clean and uncluttered design makes your life easier. Call me crazy, but I’m actually glad I can acquire eggs without engaging in small-scale urban subsistence poultry farming. Division of labor means I can make an omelet without the concomitant obligation of having to clean up chicken droppings.
Where Women Create magazine is a product of the Stampington rubber stamp company and is published four times a year. Each issue features 10 to 15 offices and studios of women who make their livings in creative careers.
Since artists typically need lots of supplies to produce their crafts, I thought the spaces in the August/September/October 2010 magazine might feature some atypical storage solutions. Although most of the offices were stuffed with supplies, many of them had ingenious methods for storing items. Here are a few of my favorites:
Camille Roskelley covered her closet doors with white felt to use as an inspiration board for her fabric while designing quilts (image by Ryne Hazen):
Wendy Addison uses an old architect’s blueprint chest to store paper supplies she uses in her artwork. These chests are perfect for organizing flat items (image by Michael Garland):
Artist Jennifer Murphy is clearly a visual processor, and as a result uses walls lined with cork board to store her papers and materials. For people who need to see their work or they forget about it, taking advantage of vertical space can be very helpful (image by Jennifer Murphy):
Editor-in-chief of Where Women Create Jo Packham has repurposed antique shelf brackets to hold ribbon rods and new shelves to store craft supplies in her studio (image by Zachary Williams):
Editor and consultant Nancy Soriano utilizes the space above her office door to store books and the back of her door to hold magazines (image by Scott Jones):
Self-proclaimed “junkinista” Ki Nassauer has made a career of rescuing damaged and discarded items and turning them into artful and usable objects. In this case, she took an old table, sanded, repaired, and painted it, and then added a small fabric mattress to create a kitty bed. It’s not necessarily storage, but it is incredibly cute (image by Heather Bullard):
We’ve talked often in the past about uncluttered cat and dog spaces for the home, but never have we talked about streamlined habitats for rabbits and chickens. Let that now be changed!
On Apartment Therapy we found a mid-century home for a rabbit:
And, on Dwell.com we found a contemporary hen house:
The Eglu by Omlet “is designed to house your hens lovingly, with perching bars, nesting box for egg laying, and even twin-walled insulation. It’s also convenient for the proud owner, with an ‘eggport’ where you can poke your nose in and collect eggs everyday, as well as a sliding tray that catches droppings.”
Compared to the hen houses I have had experiences with, this Eglu looks like a dream. No need to stick a broom up under the hen and let her peck away at the handle while sneaking eggs out of her nest.
Have you seen uncluttered pet homes for the less-popular, but still cuddly and wonderful pets? Please share your finds in the comments.
Our only complaint about the product related to the fact that one of our two cats isn’t always conscientious of ensuring that everything that’s supposed to end up inside the door to the globe actually does.
So we were pleased to find out recently that Automated Pet Care Products now offers a few accessories that solve our problems. They sent us an upgraded unit for review, and here are our thoughts.
The first accessory is a relatively inexpensive lip extender that catches any “misses” and helps redirect them back into the globe. It snaps into place over the existing lip and extends the catch to a total of three-and-a-half inches.
The second is a new “Bubble Unit” globe that creates a skylight in the back. It also adds a few more inches of space for larger cats like our Charlie (who is now on “the light food” to help her slim down a bit). This upgrade is a complete replacement globe and it also includes a lip extender.
We know the idea of a litter box costing over $300 might seem outrageous to some, but we’re convinced the efficiency of the internal sifting mechanism causes us to buy less than half as much litter as we previously needed, so we figure the device is actually likely to recoup it’s own cost over the long run. And you can feel good about the fact that your cat always has a clean and uncluttered box.
You don’t need to take our word for it though. Cat owner’s who have Litter Robots are fanatical about them, so just look at the Amazon reviews to get an idea of how great these things are.
Today, I want to introduce you to Unclutterer programmer Gary DuVall. This post is the first in a series that he has agreed to write for us based on his personal experience of losing everything he owned.
June 27, 2008, was like any other day. It was early afternoon, the sun was out, I was working from home, and I was on a conference call with a client. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a plume of smoke coming from what seemed to be our building’s roof.
As the plume grew larger, I began to realize the smoke wasn’t an afternoon pre-Cubs-game barbeque on the rooftop by a couple of guys playing hooky from work — this was a real fire. I ran up the stairs toward the rooftop deck to check things out. By the time I got to the door leading outside, the fire had grown large enough that I could hear it blazing, and I knew there were a half-dozen propane grills on the other side of the metal.
It was most certainly time to go.
Luckily, before the fire had spread downward through the floors, I was able to herd our two cats into the carrier, pack up my work laptop in the bag I always had close by, and make it down the smoke-filled stairway and out the building with a couple of minutes to spare. Unfortunately, in the end, we lost almost everything — but we had our pets, our safety, and an emergency line of communication.
Months before, when my wife and I first moved into the building, I insisted that vital items like our cat carrier be stored in easily accessible places in our apartment (rather than the basement storage area) in the — we thought — unlikely case of just such a situation. Only a couple of minutes of planning for what could happen made that split-second decision-making much easier when it did.
This is the crux of what I like to call “disaster uncluttering”: Being prepared for the unlikely, in case it happens. It takes but a little time and thoughtful review to prevent mind clutter from getting in the way of your safety when you have very little time to spare.
Here’s a checklist of questions to ask yourself and suggestions of what can be done to prevent both mind and physical clutter should a disaster strike you out-of-the-blue:
- Consider where you store things. You should have almost immediate access to the following items: Pet carrier(s), an emergency line of communication (preferably a laptop, netbook, or advanced PDA), a cell phone, your car keys, a rugged flashlight, and, if at all possible, a copy of your renters or homeowners insurance policy.
- Have an escape route ready, and cover your bases. Being on the third level and without a fire escape, our elevator was out and one stairwell had already become dangerously consumed by smoke. Become familiar with every pathway that leads out of your home ahead of time.
- If you have pets, consider putting Pet Safety Alert decals on external windows and your front door to alert neighbors and authorities you have animals (in case you aren’t at home when an emergency happens).
- Spend the time, and take inventory of your belongings. Even if you don’t use an automated system, a video of everything in your home can help spur your memory. Be sure to backup the video so you can still access it if your home is destroyed.
- Are your vital documents protected and organized? Ideally, you’ll want to store them in a fireproof safe and keep a backup copy online. Check out our series on fireproof safes for more information on this subject.
- Consider where you’ll temporarily live if you’re unable to inhabit your home. Will you need to stay in a hotel, or will you have access to the home of a friend or relative?
In an upcoming post, I’ll discuss what happened after the fire. In many ways, the aftermath was far worse than the fire itself.
The image above is what was left of our oak bedroom floor. In addition to soot, it took only a few hours for mold to begin to grow in the water that helped put out the fire.
All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!
Are you sick and tired of walking your dog? If you would rather stay inside and plop in front of the television while your dog gets its exercise on a treadmill, then you are in for a treat.
The good folks at Jog-a-Dog (since 1972!) have a product for you. The DC 7 is described as “the most impressive dog treadmill to date.” It weighs in at 261 pounds and costs just south of $3000. That is a bit steep, but think of all the time it will save you now that you no longer have to walk Fido. From their site:
The incredible 84” x 24” running surface will accommodate all breeds while allowing large dogs ample room to reach and extend while exercising. Ridged reinforced steel decking provides a secure foundation for breeds exceeding 300 pounds. The powerful 1 H.P. PWM whisper quiet industrial drive system comes standard! Likewise, the proprietary four roller drive system insures a smooth and consistent tread operation that will not slip at even the slowest of speeds. The side guardrails are formed from ½” round steel and are detachable, allowing for easy transport and storage.
It is all so easy. If you combine the Jog-a-Dog with an automatic feeder and a doggy door for access to your back yard, then you will never have to be responsible for your dog again. Sure, the dog may be happy to see you on your couch from time to time, but a little doggy independence will make it much easier to care for you canine.
(Exception: If someone with a disability and/or mobility restrictions has a dog, we understand that this could be helpful. It would be especially helpful for a service animal. However, for able-bodied pet owners, this is truly, truly ridiculous.)
My home has been cat free for eight months now. It wasn’t by choice. Our two cats passed away within a year of each other and we are waiting until our daughter is a bit older to get a new kitten. I definitely miss having a cat, but one thing I don’t miss is cleaning up cat hair all the time. It is a never-ending task that gets old quickly.
We are currently awaiting the possibility of cat-sitting for my in-laws when they travel to Florida for the winter. My daughter (pictured with the cat in question) will absolutely be thrilled with this, and I must admit that I’m excited to have a cat in the house again. After my initial excitement, the next thing I thought of was the return of cat hair. It is definitely a negative aspect of owning a pet. Dogs aren’t much better in this regard, so I’ll include them in this post. My mom spent many hours vacuuming up black hair from her carpets from the Labrador they had years ago.
Here are some tips I came across recently when looking for solutions:
Grooming: Brushing your pet regularly will decrease the amount of hair that ends up on the floor and furniture. You may also look into a corner comb.
Furniture and Floors: Vacuuming regularly is a must. It doesn’t matter if you groom regularly, the hair will find its way to the floor and furniture. You may want to instill a no furniture rule for your pet to curb furniture fur.
Clothing: The lint roller is a necessary evil if you plan to exit the house hair free. Also, don’t leave clothes out on the floor. Most cats love to lie on clothing left on the floor.
How about you? What do you do to keep pet hair from taking over your home?
The October/November issue of Ready Made magazine has a great do-it-yourself project for a Litter Box Hideaway:
If you have been looking for a way to get your cat’s litter box out of the way or hidden from sight, this could be your perfect solution. The Norrebo box they used for the project has enough space in it that you could also use it to store other pet-related items (not food, but things like fur brushes). And, you could use the top of the box for seating or storage.
My friend Elspeth recently lost her cat. The kitty is home safely now, but in the process of looking for her my friend learned a thing or two about how she could have been a better organized pet owner.
After her experience, Elspeth put together a list of emergency information and resources you should have on file if you have a pet:
- Have your pet microchipped and have on file the name of the company, the microchip number, and contact information for the company.
- Know the number on your pet’s rabies tag.
- Have documentation on all of your pet’s vaccinations and surgeries. Shelters and vets that take in lost pets will conduct blood tests to identify strays from non-strays. Knowing which vaccines are in your pet’s blood and locations of scars can help in identifying your pet.
- Take pictures of your pet at many different angles and of all unique pattern markings. Have these images in digital format. Many states and shelters will post pictures of lost pets online and you’ll want the pictures to print fliers.
- Most agencies will only allow you to report a pet that has been missing for more than 24 hours. Find out which agencies take these notices (usually shelters and animal control) and have their contact information in your address book.
- Even if your pet lives primarily indoors, you still need to have a collar on your pet with identification. Break away collars are best for constant wear so that your pet doesn’t accidentally choke himself/herself.
- Keep contact information for how to post messages to your neighborhood e-mail listserv and Craigslist community.
Ultimately, it was a couple who found the cat and also saw one of Elspeth’s posters on a bus stop in the neighborhood. We hope that you never lose one of your pets, but if you do, you’ll be prepared by having the above information at your fingertips.
Reader Jim sent us the following question:
OK, so I like your 30 minutes per day cleaning model…however, with a dog (big chocolate lab) that is constantly shedding, what tools, cleaning devises, ideas, etc., might I use to keep up with the seemingly endless dog-hair dust bunnies? Vacuuming works, but takes time to drag out the vacuum, and the Swiffer just seems to move the hair around.
In my house, we call these gifts from our two cats “tumbleweeds.” I like your use of the word “bunnies,” though, since they do feel as if they are forever multiplying. I completely empathize with your situation and hope that I can help.
Here are a handful of strategies for dealing with pet fur tumbleweeds:
- Once a day, armed with a couple slightly damp paper towels, walk through your house and capture the worst offenders. If they’re large enough that you would see them and be stressed or embarrassed if a house guest were to immediately notice them, just scoop them up with the paper towel. This isn’t deep cleaning, this is just peace of mind. At most, this process should take you five minutes and is a great chore for a younger child.
- Bathe your pets regularly. When you bathe a pet, a good chunk of loose hair and dander goes down the drain with the water. Now, granted, this task is a bit more difficult with a cat. You have to start bathing the cat when it’s a kitten or you’ll never be able to give it a bath as an adult. We’ve been bathing our cats twice a month since they were first adopted from the shelter and now they just climb into the water. Use a pet-friendly shampoo (not human shampoo) and ask your vet for tips and breed-specific bathing frequency recommendations if you’re new to the pet-washing adventure.
- Keep a pet brush handy. When your pet curls up at your feet and wants some snuggles, give him a brush at least once a day. You’ll capture the fur before it can become a tumbleweed.
- Install reliable air filters in your heating/air conditioning system and replace them seasonally.
- If your pet routinely uses a bed, drape its bed with a fleece blanket. If there is a favorite spot where he likes to curl up, lay a fleece blanket in that location. Fleece blankets act like giant magnets for pet hair because of their inherent static nature. Roll up the blanket and throw it in the washer once a week, and for extra pull, dry it without a dryer sheet.
- Although you hate to do it, you should run the vacuum at least once a week. Don’t forget to vacuum under the couch, along baseboards, every stair, and closet floors where pet fur tumbleweeds like to hide.
- Feed your pet high-quality food. The healthier your pet’s diet, the healthier your pet and his coat. Talk to your vet about the best diet for your pet. Sometimes, switching to a healthier pet food will greatly reduce the amount your pet sheds.
Good luck! And, if ever in doubt about a technique, just ask your vet. He or she will be able to tell you if something is safe for your pet.
Photograph accompanying this post taken by Matt Niemi.
I have two cats who are in the running for being the world’s most adorable kitties. (Okay, so I may be a little biased about this fact … but you have to admit that they’re at least a little cute sleeping in that photo?!) I love my two little fur balls and spoil them rotten, but I will admit that they come with a lot of stuff.
As I’ve discussed in the past, I subscribe to a mid-century modern/industrial design style in my home. My small house has hardwood floors and concrete and glass walls. There are virtually no knickknacks in my place, and cat accouterments are rare. Except for their litter box, food and water bowls, and collection of fur balls that have to be cleaned out of the corners every other day, it’s not obvious to people when they first come into my home that I even have cats.
Here are some of the ways that I hide their clutter:
- Instead of a scratching post, I have a sisal rug on the floor of my office. Most scratching posts are covered in sisal, anyway, so it’s like a giant scratching mat for them.
- Like a child, my cats have a toy box. The cats know that if they want to play with one of their toys that they can find it in their toy box. Once a week, I’ll walk through the house with a yard stick and fish out any toys that have been batted under dressers or cabinets and return them to the toy box. Also, throughout the course of the day, if I find an unused toy in the middle of the floor I’ll immediately toss it into the toy box.
- My cats also have their own toiletry kit in the bathroom. I keep their nail trimmer, brush, and other grooming supplies in one labeled box in the bathroom storage area.
There are hundreds of ideas for keeping kitty clutter in check, but these are just a few that I employ in my home. I would love a well-ventilated kitty closet with a cat door to hide their litter box, but right now that is just a big wish. What do you do in your home to help keep pet items from becoming clutter?
via Apartment Therapy:
The Kitty Washroom from Sky Mall is certainly an uncluttered kitty potty solution:
With $100 price tag, I imagine that a homemade version would be kinder on the pocketbook. Plus, the Litter Robot that I use wouldn’t fit inside this cabinet. It is, however, wonderful inspiration for those of us with cats!
My friend recently renovated a previously unused area in her home and kept her dog Jenny in mind when she was making plans for the room. One of the many things that she did was create a clutter-free eating area for her puppy.
Jenny’s food bowl now lives on the bottom shelf of a built-in cabinet in the new room. The shelf is on rollers and can pop out for easy cleaning. My friend slides out the food bowl shelf when it’s time for Jenny to eat, and then pushes it back in when Jenny’s finished. There’s no clutter and no mess. Jenny’s big bag of food is stored on a shelf above the food bowl, which also rolls in and out of the cabinet for easy access.
My friend had her cabinets custom made by a local woodworker, so her exact solution isn’t available online. However, a quick internet search led me to this Elfa product, which my friend says is the same concept as the pull-out shelf she uses in her puppy’s feeding area. If you’re a dog owner looking for another way to bring organization into your home, this might be a solution for you.