De-Cat Your Home: How to Keep Things Clean When Your Cat Makes a Mess
Tackle 7 common housekeeping problems with our handy how-to for less time spent cleaning, more time spent cat cuddling!
You’re over-run with cat toys, tripping over them en route to the bathroom and almost wiping out on that under-foot catnip ball while serving dinner.
Sort through those toys, throwing away all the hopelessly destroyed/completely hideous ones and saving the ones requiring a quick bit of re-stuffing/stitching up. But be realistic here—only save them if you will actually fix them. That done, leave out your cat’s current five favourites in a neat small bin (Ikea to the rescue!) and stash the rest of her toys in a small basket in the closet. Rotate the toys she has out every two weeks to keep them fresh and interesting. You have TONS of toys? Take a selection of gently loved ones and donate them to your local animal shelter. Good karma!
The hairy couch.
Again, prevention. If your cat is allowed on the couch (or not allowed but you don’t seem able to deter her), make life easy on yourself. Procure a nice throw and drape it over the area your cat favours. Then simply toss in the wash once a week. Much easier than cleaning upholstery! If you are combating an existing fur build-up on your upholstery, buy a squeegee with a rubber edge and squeegee your furniture. The fur will literally roll off the material. It even pulls ultra short fur that weaves itself into the fabric.
Cat hair in the carpet.
If your cat has longer hair, buy a small plastic garden rake and quickly rake your carpet before vacuuming. A quick raking will get up the bulk of the hair, making vacuuming faster and prolonging the life of your vacuum by reducing the amount of long fur wrapping around the roller bar and causing belt breakage. If you’re in possession of a Dyson vacuum cleaner (a girl can dream!), consider getting the Dyson Mini Turbine Head attachment, designed specifically to remove pet hair. It rolls the dirt and hair into balls for easy removal—more amazing than it sounds when you see it in action. It attaches to all upright and canister Dyson vacuums except the DC24 and cordless models.
Or, let Roomba do the vacuuming for you. For a cool $399 (or more if you choose the top of the line model), this little robotic vacuum will make the rounds for you, navigating the house via its internal sensors and software. Never vacuuming again for a mere $399? Sounds like a steal to us. It’s a brave new world.
Cats on the countertops.
This is not only a hygiene issue but a safety issue as kitchen counters are home to dangerous appliances, hot cooking surfaces, and sharp knives. You must lay down the law here to save your curious cat from harming herself. As always, consistent behaviour reinforcement is your best instructive tool. Any time your cat jumps up, you must immediately tell her to get down in a calm, assertive voice, and then physically remove her from the counter. Soon your voice command will be enough to stop her from jumping up, and even the most stubborn cat will learn that she is cattus non grata on the counters. (Do make sure your cat gets plenty of attention when she is not up on the counters. And don’t leave food on the counter! Providing alternate perching spots can help too.)
Stains and smells.
Go CSI on your carpets. Eliminate old accidents—purchase an ultraviolet light, also known as a black light (available at Walmart for just under $20, as well as at most hardware stores). Turn your regular lights off, and shine the black light over your carpeted areas. Stains will quite literally jump out at you (yikes). Mark the spots in need of cleaning by placing a shoe or other object on top or demarcating with a piece of string, so you can locate the spots once you turn the lights back on. Treat with the eco- and pet-friendly stain remover of your choice and reclaim the floor as a non-scary place to practice yoga.
Time to get DIY on this problem. If it’s an upholstered couch that’s been subjected to your cat’s claws, re-upholstering might be the only way to save it. Luckily, there are plenty of affordable and stylish ways to recover a damaged piece of furniture (check out designsponge.com for some examples and how-to). If your couch is leather and the scratches are a lighter shade than the surrounding leather, use a leather re-colouring balm to quickly and effectively disguise the scratch marks. If it’s the wooden legs or a doorframe that’s suffered your cat’s attentions, use a walnut—the nut meat not the shell—to make minor scratches dissapear (seriously, it really works) or a wood-stain pen to colour them in. If your cat has really had a go at it, though, sanding and re-staining is the way to go. After you’ve repaired the damage, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. You can try detering your cat by putting double-sided packing tape on the area that your cat is focused on, or simple roll with it and add a Scratch Protection Film so when your cat does attack that same spot, she won’t do any damage. Next, it’s time to teach that cat about scratching only appropriate things. Place a sisal scratching post right near the problem area, and reinforce good behaviour with lots of verbal praise and petting; there are now lots of cool-looking scratching posts out there.
It’s all about prevention and maintenance. Keep your cat from tracking litter on to the floor by investing in a litter box that helps limit tracking or scratching in the litter: We like the NVR Miss Litterbox, which has high walls to keep the litter in the box for cats who like to scratch a lot. An anti-tracking mat placed at the entry to any box will also help reduce the spread of litter. The other important part of limiting the mess caused by cats is a consistent cleaning effort. Buy a small brush and dustpan and keep it next to the litter area. Each time you empty the box, do a quick sweep to keep things neat and tidy. These small and consistent efforts will keep your space clean and your cat happy!