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Minimalist living with pets

Is minimalist living with pets possible?

I always want more pets. Like many of you, I’ve had plenty of deserving “animal hoarder” jokes thrown my way. While this can be funny, I am far from a hoarder.

My husband Josh and I live a minimalist lifestyle. We like to keep life as simple and stress-free as possible as far as stuff.

Being a minimalist can mean different things to different people, but for me it means eliminating as much physical stuff as possible in order to focus my energy, time and money on more important things such as traveling, time with family, experiences, time outdoors, etc.

Owning fewer items means I spend less time cleaning, organizing, thinking about and searching for things. With less stuff, everything has its place, and nothing is asking for my attention. For example, if I know I will never read a book again, I donate it. I have one small bookshelf, and I only keep what fits on that shelf.

Less stuff

Clothing is another example. Everything hangs in one small area of my closet, and I can fit all my clothes in one large duffle bag. I own three pairs of pants and a couple of skirts, shorts, dresses and shirts. I have about five pairs of shoes including my running shoes, flip-flops and boots. I have just a few pieces of jewelry that I love.

We also have a minimal amount of furniture. No dresser. One couch. One TV. One small kitchen table with two chairs. One bed. Two desks that fold up easily, and a couple of shelves. We have a few pieces of art that have meaning, and no knickknacks.

Other self-described minimalists might take things to more extreme, but this is what works for us, and I love it.

So what about minimalist living with pets? How do a big, drooly mutt and two cats fit into the equation?

Minimalist living with pets - Beamer and Ace

Pets are naturally simple. They’re already minimalists and require very little as far as stuff. They don’t need baskets of toys, cupboards of treats or 10 different outfits, collars and leashes.

Here’s what our three have:

  • They each have three or four toys, which are put away when not in use. When they receive a new toy as a gift, I throw away or donate an old toy.
  • They each have a bed, which they rotate and share. They also share bowls and a Furminator.
  • The cats each have a scratching post.
  • Ace has his leash, coat and training collars. These are all put away when not in use.
  • They each have a crate, used for sleeping options and travel. The crates are always available (they love their kennels) but are kept out of sight in our utility room.
  • The cats each have a litter box.
  • And OK I’ll admit it! My cats each have a Halloween costume. 🙂 I couldn’t resist!

A few other tips on minimalist living with pets:

  • When a pet item becomes dirty, smelly or tattered, I throw it away. I tend to buy higher-quality products that last years.
  • And this is more about being a neat freak than a minimalist, but I vacuum pet hair often. I scoop and vacuum around the litterboxes each day. I keep the pet beds clean, and pets are not allowed on the human furniture unless invited. They understand the rules.

How do pets benefit from simple living?

More attention

My pets benefit from my simple lifestyle because they get more of my attention. I spend less time worrying about stuff and more time focusing on them. I don’t think people even realize how much time they spend organizing and searching through their belongings or stressing out about where to put something.

Less stress

Less stress for the owner automatically means less stress for the pets because they are a reflection of us. Josh and I live a pretty relaxed lifestyle, and I think our pets benefit from that.

Money well spent

Instead of spending money on toys and other products that our pets don’t need, I spend money on experiences with them or on higher-quality food. For example, instead of buying Ace more treats or a cute harness, I take him on lots of walks and adventures in the community. He also eats a raw dog food diet.

For me anyway, pets seem to naturally fit into a minimalist lifestyle. I’m not suggesting this is how anyone else should live. It’s just what works for us.

Minimalist living with pets - Beamer and Scout

Even if you don’t consider yourself a minimalist, how do you cut back on clutter with pets?


Wednesday 10th of July 2013

I was recently forced to go through all our dog stuff. When my Wookie died we decided not to get a new dog right away so I gave what was left of his food to a friend who feeds his dog the same kind. Got rid of all but 2 beds (how and why we had so many I don't know), kept one because it was almost brand new travel bed, and the other because it is the one my sisters dog likes to use when she comes to visit. I kept a few toys and packed them away in the empty dog food bin with the bowls and leashes. I will go through it again when we get a new dog and what the new dog doesn't play with or need will be donated. Although I will admit I have the collars of our last three dogs and they hang off the corner of the frame of a picture of the dog they belonged to.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 10th of July 2013

So sorry to hear of your loss. I agree, holding onto the collars of past dogs is a nice way to remember them.


Monday 8th of July 2013

I started thinking about how much money I was wasting on buying dog toys since my dog likes to destroy his toys (even "indestructible" toys rarely last more than a week). Now I give him "recycled" toys. We feed him out of a Gatorade bottle, which is like a Kong. Or I mix his food with some yogurt in a yogurt container and freeze it and give it to him. He loves these toys just as much and now I have a little extra money for obedience classes!

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 9th of July 2013

Ha! Yep, I've used the plastic bottle trick as well.

Nancy's Point

Monday 8th of July 2013

I think it's great that you've figured out what works for you and your household. I must admit, I have too much stuff. It's also true though, that I am trying to throw more stuff out. Parting with stuff is a process.

As far as our pets go, they don't have much stuff other than a dog bed, a kennel, leashes, gentle leaders, bowls and a couple of toys. I know many pet owners go crazy buying toys and pet clothing, not that there's anything wrong with that. What ever works for you - comes back to that a lot doesn't it?

Fun post to read. Thanks!

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 9th of July 2013

Scout's favorite toy is a crumbled up piece of paper anyway :)

Jana Rade

Monday 8th of July 2013

Cutting back on clutter with dogs is not the issue here. Cutting back on clutter with a husband, now that is a trick! :p

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 8th of July 2013

Haha! I hear ya!

Kimberly, The Fur Mom

Sunday 7th of July 2013

This is an inspiration for me to clean out their cluttered toy box. I'm hesitant to get rid of toys, because they still love to play with them. Other ways I cut back is just by asking myself if I need something.

I used to be a shoe and clothes person - now, if it can't stand up to 3 dogs, then it can't come home with me :)

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 8th of July 2013

I pretty much stopped buying any white clothing. With all the black hair and dog drool in our place, it doesn't stand a chance!