Pet furniture has come a long way from teal carpeted cat towers and lumpy plaid dog beds.
For discerning pet owners who treat their cats and dogs like family (in some cases better than family), designers are creating stylish, even glamorous, furniture.
Consider the $5,000 cat tower by the Refined Feline, complete with three platforms for lounging and a hideaway cubby at the bottom, lined in white faux fur. Or the matching tufted Chesterfield-style sofas from Wayfair. For just under $400, your dogs can have a miniaturized version of your own sofa, with faux leather, nailhead trim and turned legs.
Over the past five years, pet furniture has been growing in sophistication and durability, according to Phil Cooper, a pet industry expert. This trend has dovetailed with the growth of local pet boutiques and the rise of fancy pet product websites. And it isn’t about look alone. An army of pet experts, behaviorists and designers is looking for ways to make dogs and cats sleep and play more comfortably, safely and stylishly.
“The choices available to pet owners today did not exist even a few years ago,” says Steve King, chief executive of the American Pet Products Association.
Jackson Cunningham, founder of Tuft + Paw, just got back from Italy, where he was sourcing partners to develop designer cat furniture. His three-year-old company has already produced sleek gray scratching towers and retro birch litter box furniture.
“Making pet furniture is very interesting because you have a customer who is human and the user who is a pet,” Cunningham says. “You have to make sure it works for the user, but the decisionmaker is human.”
So what’s sparking joy these days for whippets and Maine coon cats?
When Kristi Pond of Tacoma, Wash., remodeled her house, she wanted to keep the furniture simple and clean, but she also wanted a place in her living room for Oliver, her year-old Bengal cat, to hang out. “He jumps on everything, so I wanted something up high, but I didn’t want one of those tacky shelf units that looks like it belongs in a cat room,” Pond says. She bought Refined Feline’s Lotus Branch Cat Shelf. “It looks very classy,” she says. “When Oliver is on it, it looks like a piece of art.”
Space is a problem for many homeowners — and pet owners — in urban areas. That’s why Ikea’s compact, Scandinavian-style furniture is popular with people who live in smaller apartments. In 2017, Ikea introduced its Lurvig line of furnishings for pets that fits with its existing collections. Its cat house ($10.99) is a cozy cube fitted with a cushion inside that slides perfectly into Ikea’s Kallax shelf storage unit.
No room for a separate dog bed for your schnauzer? Try the Abigail Murphy Classic Dog Bed by New Age Pet. The bed folds up when not in use and has a memory-foam mattress with a machine-washable cover.
Last year, Wayfair launched the Archie & Oscar line of pet furnishings with nearly 1,000 pieces, including a rattan domed cat lounger and a white Chippendale-style dog gate made of chew-resistant wood.
“Our pets have tested our sofas and armchairs, and we know they enjoy them, so we scaled them down to size,” says Wayfair spokeswoman Julie Cassetina.
Similarly, the humans who run Casper mattresses were intrigued that so many of their customers posted social media photos of their dogs luxuriating on their pressure-relieving memory-foam mattresses.
“We decided to launch a pet-friendly version of our people mattress, with little tweaks that are dog-specific,” says Jeff Chapin, Casper’s co-founder and chief of product. After interviewing dog owners, pet retailers and dog psychologists, they introduced a specially contoured dog bed ($125-$225) with a washable outer cover made to shed fur and withstand bites and scratches.
Owners like furniture that serves both them and the pet, King says. At New Age Pet, the Sundown Nightstand Pet Bed lets your dog sleep beside you on its own little cushion, and you can keep your bedside lamp on the same piece of furniture. Joss & Main’s 60-inch Henrietta Cat Tree provides a jumping area and hideaway for your cat and a faux tree for your living room.
Some companies are creating accent furniture that discreetly hides the lowly litter box. The Rifiuti by Tuft + Paw ($599) is made of birch plywood with horizontal stripes and tapered legs.
Where to put all your pet’s accessories? Joss & Main’s Lula Entryway Dog Bed ($394.99) is a stylish multi-tasking piece of wood veneer furniture with a dog bed and hooks to hang leashes, as well as your dog’s raincoat and yours. The pullout storage drawer can be filled with dog toys or your gloves and scarves.
High design for stylish owners
It used to be that cat poles, condos and towers came only in a few colors, “and none of them matched your decor,” Cooper says. Now there are many more choices.
“Cats, like dogs, have now been elevated to child status,” he says. And they are finicky about where they like to hang out.
Walmart’s new pet collection from Drew Barrymore’s Flower Home includes a $79.99 brown wicker cat bed with whisker detailing that will accommodate “tiny kittens to full-grown cats up to 40 pounds.”
And for those turned off by ugly wire crates in the kitchen, B&B Kustom Kennels offers sophisticated solid wood kennels in seven finishes (from $749) in a variety of sizes and colors to fit a Pekingese or a Great Dane.
Part of the family
Not everyone thinks pets need their own furnishings. Many are fine having their cats and dogs share the sofas and beds designed for humans.
New York interior designer Alex Papachristidis often uses antique children’s chairs or vintage stair steps to use as step stools for clients with pets, as well as for his own dog Teddy, a 16-year-old Yorkie. “Little dogs love to jump around, but you have to be so careful about their backs,” Papachristidis says. “This can give them a leg up.”
Susanna Salk wrote “At Home With Dogs and Their Designers” in 2017. She’s working on another book for Rizzoli due out in 2020 about designers and dogs in the English countryside.
“The truth is, designers love their dogs so much, they let them on all their furniture. They don’t worry about the fabrics,” Salk says. “Their pets are a part of the family, and that’s what makes a room feel like home.”