Organizing for pet owners

As someone with two cats, I know that having pets is a joy, but it’s also a responsibility. Part of that responsibility involves organizing with them in mind. The following list shows what that can involve.

Unclutter their stuff

Do you have some pet food that your pets refused to eat? You may be able to return it to the store where you bought it — my local pet store lets me return opened bags of kibble. If not, you can give it away to other pet owners.

You’ll also want to pass along any toys your pets never liked and dispose of any that were so well loved that they’re now in tatters. Other items to unclutter include pet beds they never used and clothes that didn’t work out.

Unclutter things that could be dangerous to them

There are a number of things you’ll want to remove from your pet’s environment because they are dangerous. Just as with children, you’ll want to protect pets from medicines and household toxins, including many cleaning supplies and insecticides. Make sure these aren’t anything your pets can get into.

Also, consider your plants: cut flowers, indoor plants, and yard plants if your pets go outside. A significant number of these are poisonous to cats and dogs. Some human foods are also hazardous to pets, so make sure you store the chocolate, grapes, raisins, and other toxic foods where they can’t get to them.

I know someone who recently spent a lot of money on pet surgery when her cat swallowed some kind of string. So make sure your cats aren’t playing with string unless you’re around to make sure they aren’t eating it. And keep their environment clear of floss, ribbon, rubber bands, etc. The Preventive Vet website provides more information on the problems these items cause and what to do to avoid those problems.

Organize everything you’re keeping

You’ll want to have defined places to keep any food, treats, toys, clothes, leashes, medications, cleaning supplies, etc. As with any other category of stuff, it’s usually best to keep like items together and to store them as close as feasible to where they’ll be used.

Keep good medical records

Jacki wrote about maintaining pet health records and why it’s so important. I handle most of this by scanning all the paperwork from my vet — including any lab work, where I always ask for copies. I keep the scanned documents in Dropbox, while others might prefer Evernote or another such tool. Of course, paper records can work fine, too.

Include them in your disaster plans

Consider what you’d need if you had to shelter in place for a week or so, as well as what you’d need if you had to evacuate.

When I look at what I need to stock in case of emergency, I include cat food and litter. I also ensure that when I decide how much water to store I consider my cats’ needs as well as my own. I also have a carrier for each cat (even though I normally only use one at a time) because I’d need these if we needed to evacuate.

Write up care instructions

When I go on a business trip or on vacation, I have someone come into my home to care for my cats rather than boarding them. If you do something similar, write up any instructions your pet care provider would need. Such instructions can also be useful in case of an emergency, when someone needs to care for your pets unexpectedly. Save these instructions so you don’t have to recreate them any time they might be necessary, and remember to update them as circumstances change.

6 Comments for “Organizing for pet owners”

  1. posted by Laura on

    Good suggestions. Especially uncluttering their stuff 🙂 If you have toys that are in good shape but your dog or cat never plays with, try contacting one of your local rescue organizations or shelters. They’re often happy to accept these for the animals in their care. They may be looking for other items such as extra collars, leashes, towels, brushes etc. Donating to these groups helps them out while getting extra stuff out of your house. It’s win-win!

  2. posted by Ruth Hansell on

    Great info and suggestions, Jeri. A few more suggestions:
    As well as the above, make “In Case Of My Death” instructions. Include them in your will. Give a copy to your ICE contact – In Case of Emergency.
    Make arrangements in advance for care of your pets in case of a personal emergency, such as illness or accident. This is really important if you live by yourself.
    Pack a ‘go bag’ for trips to the kennel – so much easier if you travel frequently.

  3. posted by Laura on

    When I had cats I kept their records in a binder & each cat had a section in the binder. The first page in each section had the cat’s name month & year of birth, allergies & any chronic medical condition such as asthma. In the front of the notebook there was a page with the name, address, phone number & directions to their regular vet & to the nearest animal emergency hospital. I also had a letter that I dated & signed giving the people who would check them while I was traveling the authority/power to authorize any & all medical care including euthanasia that I would update annually & I also gave a copy to the regular vet for their file. When I would travel I would add a page with my itinerary & contact information & would put the binder on the kitchen island. I would also put an envelope with some cash in it in case the person checking on them needed to buy more food or litter although I always made sure there was more than enough of both.

  4. posted by Rebekah on

    Re: disaster plans – be aware that in an evacuation scenario that many emergency pet shelters will not accept cats or dogs without proof of rabies vaccination.

  5. posted by Pat Reble on

    I have a medical condition that often results in unplanned trips to hospital. I have my house set up so my cats can go at least 24 hours without needing attention – self feeders; self waterers; extra litter boxes etc – so I don’t have to worry if I’m suddenly taken ill because I have time up my sleeve to organize their carers.

  6. posted by Sarah on

    A few thoughts about unused pet food: Consider donating to your local animal shelter. Also, your vet may know of a rescue group that needs food (and that will often accept even open bags of dry food, as long as they are within expiration date).

    And some humane societies, etc. have programs that accept pet food donations specifically for people on low or fixed incomes who need pet food donations to be able to continue to keep their pet(s).

Comments are closed.