Organizing Solutions for Pet Owners

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Dog and cat owners can accumulate a lot of pet-related stuff: toys, clothes, leashes, beds, treats, grooming tools and bags (and/or cans) of food. And all of that needs to be stashed away somewhere, so there are many opportunities for well-designed storage solutions. Multipurpose bins can often work well, but products designed specifically for pets can sometimes be useful, too.

The architects behind Murphys Paw Design were trying to solve their own problem when they developed their Murphy beds for pets. As they explain: “We live in a small central urban home and have a large dog. … We were constantly negotiating space in the house with him—we wanted him to have a comfy large bed that he needed but we also needed to be able to put it away when we had friends or company visiting.”

Another way to deal with pet beds is to incorporate them into other furniture, as Fabbricabois did with its Nidin coffee table. The table provides storage for magazines, too, and it can fold flat when not in use.

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But most pet owners are struggling with the smaller things such as toys and brushes. An over-the-door organizer such as those used for shoes (but with pockets sized for pet supplies) can provide a simple solution. This one from Animal Planet is a good example. The smallest items, which might get buried and lost in most of the pockets, can be kept in the mesh pocket at the bottom.

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Storage can also be built into other pet products, such as the steps some pet owners have to give their cats or dogs easier access to a bed or sofa.

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he design problems: The tops of the step are not hinged; they just lift off. While that makes it easy to reach the contents, the tops often slide around, startling pets who then refuse to use the steps. And the treads on the steps don’t do anywhere near enough to remove the slipperiness.

The design and/or manufacturing problems: Assembling the steps generally took 10-30 minutes, but many purchasers did some kludges to work around problems with pieces not fitting, etc. One even hired a carpenter to do the assembly.

The manufacturing/marketing problems: The steps are not “solid wood” as claimed, and the majority of end users said the quality is poor.

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A simple dog bed can incorporate a storage drawer. No product works for everyone, and this one won’t be a good option for pet owners who have trouble bending down. And anyone with small children will need to be cautious about what gets stored in the drawer.

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Some pets prefer to eat and drink from elevated bowls, and this provides another opportunity to incorporate storage into a product.

Another way to store pet food along with the food bowls is to use a feeding station.

The pet feeder station from Grandin Road is 12 inches taller than the Hideaway, and it holds a lot; one purchaser fit a 33-pound bag of food into the bin. (She kept it in the original bag for cleanliness reasons, and others advise doing this to keep the food at its best.)

The one complaint many purchasers have is that the drawer doesn’t pull out far enough—or that it does pull out far enough, but it’s difficult to do. It always surprises me when something so basic to a product’s design doesn’t work well.

There are pegs on the side for hanging leashes and such, which might be useful, but pet owners might want to keep those items by the door rather storing them along with the food.

This pet feeding station allows the pet owner to adjust the height of the drawer, which is a nice touch; the bowls can be raised rather than being kept at ground level. The top section is a tilt-out bin that holds up to 40 pounds of food.

With this feeding station (and maybe the others, too) I’d probably want to anchor the piece to the wall to ensure it didn’t tip over.

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