We try to domesticate our pets, but they’re wild creatures at heart. Because of this, a lot of their instinctive habits can wreck our living space and drive us nuts. With some effort and understanding, we can accommodate their natural needs and still maintain a comfortable and clean home.
As humans, when our modern conveniences work against our nature, we simply adjust to fit them in. Animals don’t do this. And when we force them to give up their natural instincts, it doesn’t always work out. I live with two cats, and I’ve found that learning to live comfortably with them comes down to two basic factors: understanding their behavior and working with it. Here are some common pet “issues” and how they should be addressed.
Chewing on Stuff
Why They Do It: Chewing is a natural part of pet behavior. Puppies and kittens often chew because they’re teething, and adult dogs and cats chew on stuff because, well…some stuff is just so darn chewable. Sometimes, though, they’ll chew on things due to a vitamin deficiency, so it’s always worth talking about with your vet. But if your dog or cat is chewing just to chew, there are a few things to consider.
What Doesn’t Work: Don’t just let it happen. Sometimes chewing is dangerous for pets (cords, toxic plants), so it’s important to address it and put a stop to it. Some say taste deterrents aren’t a good idea, but the ASPCA doesn’t object to deterrents that are specifically designed for that purpose. But always be careful about what you’re allowing your pet to ingest.
What To Do Instead: Giving your pet an outlet for their natural inclination is the way to go. Offer them something appropriate to chew for their size. For small pets, Hartz recommends cardboard boxes or toilet paper rolls. For cats, try cat-friendly plants like lemongrass, catnip or catmint. And there are plenty of chew toys available for dogs, just heed these warnings from Cesar Millan:
If you buy your dog a kong type toy check, make sure the hole in the toy is not so big that the dog can get his lower jaw stuck in it.I have seen several emergency cases where a dog comes in with a toy stuck in his mouth. Do not give toys that resemble inappropriate items; for example do not give your dog an old shoe to chew on because he will not know the difference between the old chew shoe and a brand new pair.
If your pet chews for play, make sure to engage in playtime with them. And, of course, hide or get rid of any dangerous objects they’re prone to chew on. Check out our post on how protect gadgets from your pets.
How Can I Protect My Gadgets from Pets?
Dear Lifehacker, I have a couple pets, and it seems like they’re always chewing on my cables,…
Why They Do It: Of all the “pet issues,” this is the one that’s most unfair for them to take the blame. They shed because they’re hairy. And while we know its not their fault, shedding can still be frustrating.
What Works: Since dealing with shedding is mostly about getting rid of what’s already there, we’ll just discuss what works. Brushing your pet is probably the easiest way to control shedding, but here are a few less obvious tricks:
Dust mops: CleanMySpace says some vacuums can just push the pet hair around with the exhaust. They suggest a dust mop with a microfiber bottom.
Baking soda: They also suggest sprinkling baking soda over carpeted surfaces before vacuuming. This helps loosen the hair.
Rubber squeegee: Running a dry squeegee over your carpet can help to pull out the hair, too.1
Natural pet shampoos: According to SheKnows, there are some shampoos that help release your pet’s undercoat, which is where much of the shedding comes from. Before using anything, make sure to review the product thoroughly for safety.
“Self-grooming” brushes: You install them on your wall, and cats rub against them as they walk by, brushing themselves. Self-grooming posts also exist.
Really, pet hair is something you learn to live with if you have a pet. That doesn’t mean you have to drown in it, though. For me, what’s been most effective is creating a routine based on the methods that work best for my situation. Managing the issue for a few minutes each day can make your home a lot more comfortable.2
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