My daughter went to college and the empty nest was too large. The five animals and I moved to a very small cottage. Since I am doing the KonMari thing and bringing myself joy, this is all well and good for me. But, what about the cats and dogs? Animals have strong feelings about space and territory, and theirs got exponentially smaller.

I was particularly concerned about the cats as the dogs have been well socialized to change. I made several improvements including cat fencing in the backyard, special new egg shaped felted wool cat beds, dog proof litter boxes, scratching poles attached to the wall and best of all, stairs and perches affixed high on the walls. Vertical space away from the dogs, you know.

For the most part, they have utterly disdained my efforts. I saw Magenta on top of (rather than behind) the cat fencing the other day. The wool bed hasn’t been touched despite multiple enticing placements. The wall perching apparatus and climbing stairs might as well be invisible despite their prime “street view” location. Every time I see a cat I put it up on the perch. I take the time to stroke each one while lying to them about what fabulous felines they are. As soon as I stop petting and move away they can’t vacate that perch fast enough. Are they concerned someone will take away their cat cards if they appreciate my efforts?

The exception being the litter boxes. I suppose if there is one thing for them to accept, litter boxes are top of the list. No one wants litter box issues. These litter boxes are stylishly designed tall (15” high) oval structures with a round hole in the top. The cat has to jump down through the hole into the litter. The nature of the box makes it impossible for curious canines to reach the litter. Everyone loves the boxes. Win!

My new sectional sofa, chosen specifically to provide ample seating in a small space, is lovely. Leather solely due to the pet fur factor. I even splurged on designer pillows for that “bring you joy” pop of color. Today, after walking the dogs for over an hour, I found the three dogs having a spirited game of dog pile on the sofa. Dice was leading the chase. He raced into the kitchen with the elder brothers in hot pursuit paws scrabbling on the hardwood floors. Nimble Dice waited until they passed and breaking the land speed record for small sighthounds raced and leapt onto the sofa skidding along the top of the backrest until he crash landed into the corner of the sectional. Whereupon the brothers caught up and pounded on him until they noticed my aghast stock still open jawed posture.

The sofa situation is upsetting, but I did chose it with animals in mind. Then the colorful pillows came into play. Most evenings the dogs are given something special to chew. Basically, I am trying to buy myself time to read a book. Unfortunately, one of my strategies for preventing resource guarding in my puppies is encouraging them to let me hold their chewies. Those opposable thumbs come in pretty handy when a dog really wants to have a good go at a chew. It is hard to refuse a behavior I trained myself so I generally hold a chewie for a bit and then send the dog off to manage on his own. Well, happily for them, we now have lovely, large pillows upon which an enterprising dog can prop his chew. So very upsetting.

Obviously I am reassessing my animals on the furniture policy. My animals are such an integral part of my life I can’t even imagine not having them snuggle with me on the sofa and cuddle at night in the bed. Aw, well, it is just stuff.

If you have litter box issues or other behavior problems come visit us at Marin Humane. Just don’t ask me to get your pets off the furniture!