Graphic: Shep McAllister

When I think about how I will go out of my way to buy a litter box or food bowl for my cat that isn’t just totally bare bones, I remember a joke my dad told me when I was a kid:

A man is walking down the road and sees a farmer holding a pig up to an apple tree’s branches to eat apples off the tree. The man asks the farmer why he doesn’t just knock the apples off the branches and let the pig eat the apples off the ground–it would save so much time! The farmer looks confused and responds, “What’s time to a pig?”

Indeed, what is time to a pig? Or a vintage-inspired cat food holder to a cat? She doesn’t care, she’s a cat. She is completely unmoved by my efforts to keep her looking stylish. Instead, her primary concerns seem to be food, sleep, and destroying my couch (in that order, I’d imagine). But, of course, even if she doesn’t care about leaving her bag of cat food or brush sitting out, I very much do. Especially because in the ten years we’ve been together, I’ve rarely had the space to keep her stuff far from mine. Her litter box has nearly always had to be in my room, her food in my kitchen. It’s become a game for me to figure out ways to incorporate her pet things into my person things without having to sacrifice my own style. After all, I’m the one paying the rent and scooping her poop out of a box.

Here are some of my favorite solutions, for dogs and cats.

TheWarmHome Storage Basket With Rope Handles

This is a tip I’ve stolen from parents I know: An attractive, inexpensive basket that can be tucked away can be great for keeping stray toys, brushes, leashes, etc, out of the way. In the bedroom, it can go under the bed. In the living room or entryway, a side table can provide good cover. I like this option because it comes in a number of different sizes, depending on your pet (or their hoard size.) I recently sang the praises of rice belly baskets, and if you like the idea of open storage that conceals the contents a bit better, they’re another great option.

Iceblue Rope Hanging Basket

Of course, some pet supplies are better kept out of your pet’s metaphorical grasp. If storage on the floor will mean treats or even too-quickly-destroyed toys are too easy to access, this hanging basket is a great option. Again, it comes in three sizes, meaning supplies and treats for tiny dogs and cats all the way up to larger dogs can be stored. If you have a place to hang coats by your door, this can also just be a great eye-level place to stash leashes and other walk essentials, rather than just hanging them.

Arf Pets Enclosed Litter Box with Table

When I moved into an apartment without the space to keep the cat’s litter box in my bathroom, I dreaded putting a giant plastic, hooded box in my bedroom. I then remembered those side table-litter box combos I first saw in SkyMall (RIP). It seemed like an almost absurd solution at the time, but it ended up working for me for six years. People who visited would look confused and say, “But where is the litter box?” (I also owe a lot to what I really do believe is the world’s best cat litter, World’s Best Cat Litter.) I kept the cat’s entrance facing away from the door to my room, and used the top as a vanity. In the living room, it can be a side table.


If you do have a big enough bathroom, first of all, congrats, and second, this can easily blend in as a place to store towels, soaps, and magazines.

Mingol Retro Small Step Bin 
Graphic: Shep McAllister

Mingol Retro Small Step Bin 

Plastic bins that store and dispense cat and dog food are effective, but nothing to write home about. Recently, I upgraded my cat’s food storage by keeping it in an enamel trash can. I went with white because it blended into my walls, and made it even less noticeable, though there are a number of good options. This sage green one is distinctive, and big enough for larger dogs. There are also a number of options in smaller sizes that mix retro flair with modern convenience. This step bin makes feeding the cat or dog a one-handed task. It also comes in a three-gallon size and in pink and teal.

Pendelton Collection Glacier National Park Bed

Pet beds are nearly always an eyesore. Then there are the purveyors of the classic upscale dog beds, like LL Bean, which feel like a dated WASP staple. If you want something a bit more 2019 for your pet, it’s hard to do better than the Pendelton collection dog beds. (The smallest one is good for cats, too.) Pendelton is a 150-year-old company, but their classic American designs have become a bonafide trend in recent years. You can even get yourself a matching throw.

Signature Housewares 6-piece Stoneware Storage Bowls

If you really can’t find pet food bowls you’re happy with, you can, of course, use human bowls. But if you don’t want to cede your cereal bowl, decorative ceramic food storage is a great option that can be purpose-bought. The straight sides imitate the shape of most pet bowls, and the mismatched, bright patterns look great in just about any combo you choose. If you give your pet fresh food, the included lids will make it easy for you to store between feedings. You have the option to keep a few for yourself, too.