While the Cats Away, Install a Scratching Post

By: Branden Schroeder

Sometimes it seems like we don't notice all our home's flaws until it comes time to sell. Because we live in our home every day, we become accustomed to dealing with minor annoyances, and tend to overlook the gradual accumulation of natural wear and tear. For those of us with pets, this wear and tear can be greatly accelerated.

I recently met a couple who were preparing to sell their home, and who realized that quite a few of the repairs they wanted to make were to damage their pets had caused. It sparked the idea that, in their next home, they would take preventative measures to avoid so much damage from occurring.

While the couple's furniture and drapes weren't for sale with their house, they still felt that their cat-scratched furniture looked shabby and detracted from the home. While they hadn't minded living with the scratched furniture before, the idea of strangers seeing it and judging their home hygiene on it didn't appeal to them. Real estate professionals are learning that home staging is an important factor in timely and profitable sales, and this couple actually decided to purchase a new couch and chair so that their living room would match the quality of their home. They said from now on they will be more strict about discouraging the cat from scratching on the furniture, and will be buying a scratching post. To save their new upholstery, they bought some fabric in a complimentary pattern and the wife, quite handy with a sewing machine, made slip-covers for the arms of the couch and chair.

Some other problem areas were the wall beside their patio door. The cat regularly scratched on the wall in order to get attention and be let outside. A way to prevent this may be to attach a piece of carpet to the area, so that it gets damaged and not the wall underneath it. While it can be difficult, if not impossible, to train a cat to scratch its claws where you want it to, one tactic may be to keep a close eye on where they tend to scratch naturally, and then install another surface in those areas, before any serious damage is done.

Yards can be another area really take a beating, especially if you have dogs. Not only will many dogs dig little, or big, holes in a yard, just their running around can create muddy pathways where grass used to be. Getting your dog out for at least one daily walk helps reduce the strain on your yard. Another option is to have part of the yard fenced for the dog, with the rest declared dog-free, or let the dog out only while you are there with them. That way the muddy section is delegated to a specific area, and grass and gardens can grow lush everywhere else. Perhaps your home will appeal to another dog owner when you are ready to sell, or you can plant some grass seed as you leave, reassuring the buyers that the area will be green again soon.

A neighbor has a dog who loves to eat grass. This never bothered her until she invested a few dollars in some ornamental Japanese blood grass. She planted this grass in pots, along with some other plants, and was quite upset to discover her dog thought this special potted grass was a delicacy planted just for her. The lush red bunches that had just begun thriving looked more like a bad haircut by the time I saw them. The neighbor decided to move the pots to a part of the yard her dog couldn't access, and ended up putting together some nice hanging baskets to decorate the porch she had originally been trying to beautify.

Dealing with pets is a live and learn situation. But with some careful consideration, there are preventative measures we can take to assure they don't cost us our house when it comes time to sell.

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