Keep Out: Pet-free Zones at Home?

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We love our pets, but opinions vary on how much dominion they should have over our houses. Is it OK for the cat to go on the couch? The bed? The kitchen counters?

My parents are deeply in love with my sister's spoiled little show dog. He is doted upon more than any grandchild, and their house is his house. But not too long ago, my parents invited some people over for dinner, and the guests refused on the grounds that it was unsanitary to eat in a house where a dog was allowed to enter the kitchen.

Personally, I found that pretty ridiculous. My parents' kitchen is so spotless that last time I visited I received a stern dressing-down for leaving a fingerprint on the stainless steel refrigerator. The floors are washed twice a week, and the fancy little dog gets professional blow-outs more often than Kate Middleton. I'd be more comfortable eating food cooked in that kitchen than in my own. But still, my parents' friends said they were just not comfortable eating food cooked in a kitchen where they knew a dog had been.

In contrast, my in-laws' dogs do not enjoy nearly such free rein. They are not allowed on beds or sofas, primarily to preserve the life of the furniture and keep it clean. The cat, however, is allowed to go wherever it wants. Thus the dogs are forced to spend their days looking at cats sitting in the middle of the bed, whining at their owners as if to say, "The cat is being bad!"

A straw poll of my pet-owning friends reveals an array of opinions. Some cats and dogs are allowed free rein in their homes. Many cats are banned from countertops, which can be achieved by training them with some of these tips. A few non-pet-owning friends even admitted to being inherently grossed out by the homes of people with pets, because they just couldn't believe the houses were really clean.

Where are your pets allowed to go?

(Image credits: Sam and Ann's Colorful Modern Mix)