Pet Connection by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

Chaise Chase

Pet-friendly fabrics and flooring make decorating a breeze for dog and cat lovers

By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

We’re in the market for a new sofa, and my friend Tamela Klisura, an interior designer, is urging me to get one in a light neutral shade instead of the colorful patterns that I love -- in part because they hide pet hair so well.

“It’ll get dirty,” I argued. Dogs will be napping on it all the time, after all.

Tamela, who has three dogs herself, pooh-poohed that.

“They have performance fabrics now that clean up really easily,” she says.

She’s right. You don’t have to buy furnishings that are the same color as your pug or Labrador’s fur -- or the Holstein cow pattern I’d need for my chestnut-and-white cavaliers. If you’re considering buying new furniture, reupholstering what you have or putting down new flooring, you have a lot of options to help keep your home looking and smelling clean, even if you have multiple dogs and cats.

Many fabrics and carpets these days are made to withstand odors and stains from spills, dog drool, pet accidents or animals who simply need a bath, thanks to a moisture barrier that keeps liquids and other messes on the fabric’s surface instead of soaking in. They can even be safely disinfected with a product that knocks out pathogens including E. coli, salmonella, MRSA, parvovirus and canine distemper virus.

“Those Crypton fabrics are made for a variety of high use and abuse,” says commercial architect Heather E. Lewis of Animal Arts, a firm that designs veterinary hospitals, shelters and other facilities. “What I have seen as an architect is an explosion in the number of cleanable fabrics that are used in health care, and those fabrics are also appropriate for use in a home.”

Flooring and carpets are also more pet-friendly, thanks to advances in materials. Vinyl, for one, has come a long way. Rosemary George replaced her wood floors with commercial-grade vinyl. “It looks just like wood but holds up better and is impervious to accidents,” she says. Melissa Frieze Karolak has vinyl planks in her basement, “luxury” vinyl in one bathroom and old-fashioned linoleum in the laundry area. “I like them all, and so far they have held up well to our two dogs and three cats,” she says.

If you’ve ever wished that you could just throw large rugs into the washing machine, well, now you can. A company called Ruggable makes lightweight rugs that go over a nonskid pad. The low-pile rugs, which come in a variety of styles, sizes, colors and patterns, are stain-resistant and waterproof. When they need to be cleaned, even the 8-by-10-foot size fits in a home washing machine.

“I have Ruggables and love the look, durability and washability,” says Marion Schuller, responding on Facebook to a friend who was considering buying one. “There is little or no padding, but the dogs like them and choose the rug instead of tile.”

Another option is carpet squares made with solid vinyl backing. When vomit, urine or poop accidents happen -- and they will -- the affected squares can be pulled up and cleaned or replaced altogether.

Wall-to-wall carpets are also made now to resist depredations from dogs and cats. Some are treated to prevent stains from forming after spills or pet potty accidents, prevent urine from penetrating to the pad and resist soiling. They can be good choices for people with asthma or allergies who prefer carpet to hard-surface flooring.

Whether it’s furniture or flooring, homes are being designed around pets. “I think that’s cool and it makes it easier for busy families,” says Lewis, who has kids and pets. “I love to see that.”


How to build

a feline fort

Q: I want to build a safe outdoor area for my cat. What features should it have?

A: A “catio” is a great way to give cats some outdoor time and space so that they can sleep in the sun, nibble on grass, stalk bugs or scratch on logs.

Start by providing as much space as possible, both horizontal and vertical. Cats love to climb and be up high, so a good-size structure should be at least 6 feet by 6 feet, with perches at various heights. Walkways should hug the walls as well as cross the space diagonally so the cat can move around easily.

Use sturdy materials. Strong screening will protect your cat from invasions by other cats or by predators such as dogs, coyotes or, in some areas, mountain lions.

Minimize territorial disputes with free-roaming neighborhood cats by building a solid base wall about 3 feet high and then having screening go up from that surface.

Choose flooring that other animals can’t tunnel beneath to get into the enclosure. If possible, a sealed concrete floor is a good choice, and it can be hosed down for ease of cleaning, especially if you build it so that it slopes to a drain.

Cover the catio to prevent escape and to provide shelter from sun, rain and snow. Design the cover in such a way that your cat has access to both sunny and shaded areas.

A litter box inside the enclosure should be easily accessible for scooping and changing the litter. Other accessories your cat will appreciate include a small fountain with running water to splash in and cat-safe plants on which she can graze. Of course, one of those plants should be catnip!

For more tips on building a catio, visit -- Dr. Marty Becker

Do you have a pet question? Send it to or visit


Vet camp for

pet-loving kids

-- San Diego-area kids who are interested in becoming veterinarians or veterinary technicians can get a leg up on their career goals at Helen Woodward Animal Center’s You Can Be a Veterinarian Camp. Experiences include practicing suturing by sewing together the skin on a banana, using a syringe to inject liquid into a section of an orange, drawing “blood” from a balloon, and examining cells under a microscope. Half-day camps are $77 per child, and the next one is scheduled for March 7. Full-day camps, which cost $144 per child, are scheduled for May 3, Sept. 19 and Nov. 7.

-- A distillery in Montana has jumped on the bandwagon of breweries around the country that spotlight adoptable dogs on their labels. At Headframe Spirits in Butte, “Orphan Dog” side labels on bottles of Orphan Girl Bourbon Cream Liqueur sport images of area adoptable dogs from Chelsea Bailey Animal Shelter. The goal is not only to help the dogs find good homes, but also to raise money for the shelter. In addition to Headframe, the effort is supported by Highlands Veterinary Hospital, which paid printing costs. The dogs are photographed by Alycia Holland Carriger, who has been taking pictures of shelter dogs for the past three years to help them find homes.

-- Many cats around the world are thought to bring good luck. In the Land of the Rising Sun, the Japanese bobtail is the traditional feline luck-bringer. The cats with the kinky tails come in many colors, but the tricolor -- or mi-ke (pronounced “mee-keh”) -- is best-known. The cats stand out for their rich, vibrant coat colors; pompomlike tails, which come in varying lengths; and entertaining behavior. Their soft, silky coat can be short or long, and they are on the small side, weighing 5 to 10 pounds. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker


Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts headed by “The Dr. Oz Show” veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, founder of the Fear Free organization and author of many best-selling pet care books, and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. Joining them is behavior consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.