House hunting pet owners place high priority on spaces for pets

Real estate brokers are keenly aware of the priority home buyers and home owners give to their pets.

Recent Realtor.com research showed 89 percent of millennials who bought a home own a pet. Of this demographic, 79 percent of pet-owning buyers who closed on a property said they would pass up an otherwise perfect home if it didn’t meet the needs of their pets.

A recent pet parent who purchased a home said she even picked her Realtor® for her pet-friendly attitude, having learned the broker she chose had worked with several volunteers at a local animal shelter.

“It’s heartwarming to find that people will put their pets’ needs first, even when it comes to one of the biggest financial decisions they will ever make,” says Nate Johnson, chief marketing officer for realtor.com. “This survey shows that we really do consider pets part of the family-and that their needs are a critical part of finding the perfect home.”

While dog owners typically desire homes with large yards, cat owners have different space considerations, ranging from where to place to litter box to find ways to satisfy the feline’s curiosity and craving for exercise and environmental enrichment.

Cat owners on the move face an “indoor/outdoor” dilemma, according to Cynthia Chomos, who teaches classes for real estate brokers on various topics including “feng shui for buying and selling” and “color appeal for a quicker sale.” A few years ago, she started applying those skills to her other passion: creating safe, enriching outdoor enclosures for cats, sometimes known as catios or cat patios.

“Cats, whether living mostly indoors or allowed outside, are naturally drawn to the stimulation of the outdoors, but responsible cat owners know a variety of outdoor hazards lurk, especially for free-roaming cats,” according to Chomos. Veterinarians can confirm the consequences of unprotected outdoor time can be traumatic and expensive.

Having a safe and stimulating environment for beloved pets is paramount, but home buyers who search for pet-specific amenities also care about aesthetics.

“You can have a beautiful house and a pet, too,” says Julia Szabo, pet columnist for the New York Post and author of Animal House Style: Designing A Home To Share With Your Pets.

Chomos, who founded Catio Spaces in 2014 and is a licensed contractor, agreed, stating, “Rather than looking like an unsightly cage, catios can resemble outdoor rooms. She builds custom catios around Puget Sound and offers downloadable plans for DIYers who prefer to construct their own or hire their own carpenter.

Cat enclosures and protected perches come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. (Editor’s note: a Google search uncovered more than 4 million results for the keyword catio!)  PETA describes catios as being akin to “a vacation beach house for your feline friends.”

Escape-proof materials and components are essential, according to those who build them. Additional elements often include shelves for vertical and horizontal movement, perches for lounging, toys for enrichment, cat safe plants, seating and space to decorate.

From small and simple to large and luxurious, the enclosures can be an attractive addition to a home while ensuring the health and wellbeing of cats – as well as cat owners, birds, and other wildlife. Large catios provide outdoor space for feline and human bonding while enjoying the benefits of nature.

As a pet lifestyle expert, Chomos helped found “Catio Tour Seattle,” a showcase of local catios, and collaborates with others to promote the benefits of catios. The annual catio tour, is organized by PAWS as part of its Safe Cats, Healthy Habitats project and sponsored by Catio Spaces, The Humane Society of the United States, Oskar & Klaus and Seattle Audubon. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, July 13.

Source: Seattle King County REALTORS® Northwest REporter

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