Writer Jean Cocteau once mused, "I love cats because I enjoy my home; little by little, they become its visible soul."
Dog owners feel the same way.
The downside of sharing our homes with pets, of course, is dirt, hair and odors. How to keep things chic and clean and still have room for Spot?
Designers and manufacturers offer some ideas.
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Liz Levin's experience with her own menagerie of kids and pets led her to launch a design service, Liz Levin Nesting. Her advice? Color-coordinate with your pets.
"Flying fur's a reality. Unless you're prepared to stand guard with your vacuum 24/7, choose a color that blends with your pet. If you have a black Lab, for the sake of your sanity, don't pick a cream-colored sofa," she says.
Cats' independent streak makes them difficult to train; better to just work around them. "Floor lamps with heavy bases. Glass tops for fragile finishes. And a good scratching post!" she counsels.
Pets sleep a lot during the day -- dogs about 13 hours, cats several more -- so bedding is key.
"Most dogs like to stretch out on rectangular beds that keep their shape, with defined edges for hanging one's head over," says Julia Szabo, author of Pretty Pet-Friendly: Easy Ways to Keep Spot's Digs Stylish and Spotless (Howell, 2009).
She recommends a polar-fleece, futon-style bed by Bowser "that's tufted, so the insides don't shift. Burrowing dogs, such as dachshunds, should have a small blanket they can snuggle under. Cats prefer a round concave nest."
Pet beds should be placed away from drafty, high-traffic zones, which can disrupt rest and lead to health problems.
William Wegman, the photographer best known for Weimaraner portraits, has designed a fun line of illustrated fabrics for pet beds. The Crypton material is resistant to stains and odor.
Crypton carpeting is in the works, too.
TempurPedic makes a great bed for older, arthritic dogs. Put a Throver over the top to protect the cover; it's a stain-repellent, two-sided blanket that doubles as a furniture cover.
Cool Bed III is a refillable waterbed for dogs. Bowser's Buttercup microfiber and fleece cat nest has a drawstring to close it up snugly.
Want your pet's bed to blend into your decor? Consider the Hardwood Hideaway, a side table with a door that opens to a sleeping spot. Place it next to your bed or the living-room sofa; the door can be adjusted to allow pets independent access, and the piece is available in several finishes.
Bowser's Moderno chair is a contemporary, upholstered chair that looks like a miniature Corbusier. Max Comfort's Gustavo pet sofa is a stylish lounger complete with memory foam mattress.
Cats, privacy seekers always, might love one of the chic, spacey looking "pods" from Hepper Home. And Merry Products' "Atmosphere" is a groovy bamboo sphere cradling a polyester cushion.
Szabo says floor maintenance is another priority. Elevate your pets' food dishes if you can, for easier eating and less mess. Moderntails.com has a number of contemporary and classic dish styles. They also stock rubber mats in different styles and sizes.
Cats tend to prefer a wide, shallow dish that accommodates sensitive whiskers; OnlyNaturalPet.com has a smart recycled glass one.
Moppable surfaces like wood, bamboo and tile work best -- stick to light-toned woods to hide scratches. Carpet is necessary if you live in an apartment where the clicking of claws may disturb neighbors. Try Flor's carpet tiles: They're easy to vacuum, lift up to wash or replace, and won't damage the floor. Choose vinyl flooring that doesn't off-gas VOCs; some pets, and people, are chemical sensitive.
Indeed, it's best to stay away from highly perfumed pet products altogether. Remember that animals have keen smell receptors. Clean pet areas with green products that have little or no scent (such as Sun & Earth or Earth Friendly Products), and for fabrics, try Get Serious, a stain and odor extractor that many pet owners swear by.
Get creative about where you store the treats and gear. Look for clear jars (so you can track contents) with locking lids; attractive baskets; and washable storage totes that coordinate with room decor.
Szabo, who writes a pets column for The New York Post, notes several new technologies to help keep pets safe.
General Motors is developing an alarm that will sound if you leave a pet or child in the car, she says.
She also likes the PetFinder, from FinderProducts: "It's a high-tech ID tag system that could help reunite you with Spot if s/he ever becomes lost."
www.moderntails.com -- pet place mats, $27.95 to $99.95; acrylic, smoke gray raised water dish, $64.95; Max Utility dog bowl 42.95
www.onlynaturalpet.com -- recycled glass, whisker-wide, gray or green bowl, $22.49
www.heartofmyheartpets.com -- Bowser Buttercup drawstring pet bed, $48; Hardwood Hideaway Table/Pet $399; Bowser raised dog feeder, wood/ceramic, from $48.
www.allmodernpet.com -- Bowser Moderno bed, $749.99
www.simplydogbeds.com -- MaxComfort BioMedic Gustavo Pet Bed Sofa, $164.99
www.petsbycsn.com -- Merry Products Atmosphere cat bed, $69.99
www.finderproducts.com -- Pet ID tag system, $14.99 to $19.99