This story was originally published in the Chicago Tribune online Brand Publishing "From House to Home" section, and on Menards.com.
Gone are the days when a dog had nothing but a collar to its name and a cat had a lowly litter box. Today's pampered pets have it all: designer beds for every room in the house, grooming supplies, clothing, feeding stations, medication stations, litter boxes disguised as furniture, and toys galore.
"Pets have become part of the family and people have humanized their pets," says Bob Vetere, President of the American Pet Products Association. "They are more important to people, and so they have all kinds of special implements."
Fortunately, there are many clever storage solutions to organize your pet's stuff so it does not clutter up your home or get lost.
There are many airtight plastic containers made for storing pet food and treats, either in the cupboard or on the floor in the pantry. This allows you to buy pet food in larger quantities and save money, while keeping food fresh.
Crafty do-it-yourselfers have converted small dressers or credenzas into pet feeding stations by removing the middle drawers and adding a platform for the dining area. The pet's gear, clothing, and accessories go in the top drawers and the food can go in the bottom.
Pet beds can make a home look cluttered, but they don't have to. Vetere says pet beds are starting to mimic human beds, with styles and bedding colors to match any décor. "It's a designer battle for the pet space," he says. This means your pet's bed can fit into the room and look like part of the home without looking like something you have to shove into the closet when company comes.
The same thing goes for pet toys. Anything decorative that is made to hold human things and sit on the floor is a good place to keep toys, so your pet can get at them. Think about a nice wicker basket, a magazine holder, a fancy wastebasket, or a large painted pot for holding dog toys. What about an umbrella stand for your cat toys on poles? Dogs love digging through their "toy box" to find what they are looking for when they want to play, and you will love having a nice place to collect their toys at the end of the day.
Things like leashes, collars and clothing can be hung on hooks inside a closet door, or near the garage door. Removable plastic hooks are great for this purpose because they don't pull the paint or finish off the door or wall, and will easily hold those lightweight items.
Plastic holders made for collecting those ubiquitous plastic grocery and newspaper bags come in handy, too. Simply mount a holder inside the pantry door or in the garage. You can even consider buying biodegradable bags to be more eco-friendly. You will never again be caught on a dog walk without the necessary bag.
Manufacturers are always coming up with new ways to hide the litter box and keep it fresher. Nowadays there are litter boxes that are disguised as furniture, such as end tables. Some even have fans or can be vented outdoors, Vetere says. Self-cleaning litter boxes are designed to stay fresher, so they don't require their own room in the house.
Grooming supplies should be gathered and kept in a plastic caddy–the kind sold for cleaning supplies with a handle on top. This makes it easy to find everything you need when it's time to give the dog a bath, or give the cat a nail trim and a brushing.
Your pet's medical records and paperwork are important to keep organized. A simple binder with pockets or an accordion file folder will do it. The trick is to keep it somewhere you will use it, such as on the shelf with the cookbooks in the kitchen or in the home office. That way, all your pet's papers, licenses, prescriptions, etc., will be in one place if you need to go to a new vet, groomer, or daycare. Simply grab the binder and go.