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We all love our pets and want to hang out with them when we relax. The only problem is, they like to make themselves at home by scratching, moulting and covering everything in mud and whatever horrific substance they've just been rolling delightedly in.
They can destroy furniture faster than termites, and rip luxury soft furnishings to shreds. So if you're giving your place a bit of an upgrade, post-lockdown, and don't want visitors to think they've wandered into a domestic apocalypse, you'll want furniture and accessories that can withstand both violent licking and a good kicking.
"By making smart choices and planning your furniture purchases, you can easily live in harmony," says Kelly Collins, interior designer and head of creative at Swyft.
1 Choose the right fabric
"You’ll want to opt for durable fabrics that won’t attract pet hair and transfer it to your clothes or damage easily. Synthetic microfibre materials are a dream material for pets," Collins says.
"Synthetic materials don’t rip or scratch easily.
"Pet hair can be easily removed with a lint brush, a dry microfibre cloth or even just your hands. And, most stains, dirt or any other spillages can be easily cleaned with water and a mild soap."
While you'd assume velvet would be a disaster against scrabbling claws, Collins adds, "When looked after properly and maintained well, it can last you for years.
"Velvet is durable, and less likely to mark, crush or fade. It's also a lot less difficult to snag because there's no loose threads or raised weaves."
Of course, the obvious choice of furnishing fabric is leather.
"It really is able to stand the test of time," says Collins. "Leather is incredibly easy to clean and won’t retain any pet hairs - even spillages can be wiped away in no time.
"Leather can also handle minor damage but you’ll need to be careful and ensure cats don’t puncture the sofa.
"Generally, leather is a fabric that gets better with age, so a few scratches here and there will only add character!"
How to pet-proof your furniture
Invest in throws
"Use covers!" says Collins. "One of the easiest ways to pet-proof your sofa is to use washable blankets, throws and even slipcovers for them to sit on instead.
"If your pet has a favourite spot, make sure it’s always covered with a soft, cosy blanket that’s easy to wash."
Groom your pet regularly
Bathing and brushing your pets often will massively help in reducing shedding and keeping their claws trimmed will decrease the chance of them doing damage to your furniture if they scratch it.
And don't forget toys. "If your dog has a tendency to chew on furniture, make sure there are plenty of chew toy alternatives around for them instead," says Kelly.
"Likewise, by providing your cat with a scratching pole, they are less likely to fulfil their urge to scratch on your lovely sofa. While they still might opt for the furniture, to begin with, patience and consistent training are key and eventually, they’ll choose the toys."
Buy pet furniture
It's lovely to cuddle up with the dog or cat - but if your sofa is being slowly destroyed, consider buying a soft, comfortable bed for your pet that can replace their favourite spot.
"Filling the bed with blankets, a few of their favourite toys and even a couple of treats will entice them to use it instead of the sofa. If you want to go the extra mile, you could even get a small pet sofa just for them to use!" says Collins.
How to keep furniture clean
There are bound to be a few accidents, furballs and mud-marks. Kelly Collins advises, "Vacuum daily or weekly depending on how much hair your pets shed, and wipe or spray with a specially formulated pet odour remover."
Give cushion covers a spin in the washing machine at least monthly, and give chairs and sofas a good brush with a fabric brush or pet hair roller.
"First blot stains, then use a microfibre cloth to remove.'
Here's our animal-friendly furniture solutions to keep your home happy, no matter how much you love your pets: