There was one hiding — discretely and tastefully — in every room. A head and tail serving as bookends. Adorning a light fixture in a child’s room. Forming an umbrella stand by the front door. With a clock face as its stomach. In a dancing group on the mid-century shower curtain.

Cats, cats, cats.

Mind you, these weren’t tacky-ass (as my Uncle Howard would say) cats. They were understated and as tasteful as cat-themed decor can be.

The question was: For staging purposes, should they stay or should they go?

The answer was: They must go. Because we didn’t want showings to turn into a game of “Can You Find All 43 Cats In the House?” and because the cats were too personalized. They would hamper prospective buyers’ attempts to “project” themselves into the home.

When you’re selling your home and staging it to heighten its value, collectibles almost always have to go. It matters not whether they are sprinkled throughout a property or displayed all in one place. (See this video from a few years ago on the subject.) At best, collections distract buyers from the task at hand (dreaming into the property) and, at worst, they elicit a negative reaction.

In fact, it’s almost always best for ALL furnishings to go. That provides a blank slate on which a stager can effectively and economically work his/her magic.

But if for some reason you can’t vacate and stage, the next best move is to depersonalize and remove all tchotchkes, photo frames, trophies, collections and sentimental objects.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com. This article was re-posted at McGuire.com.