Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Professional Poop Wrangling

If you are a pet owner, I'm going to tell you right now that you're two best friends are bleach and vinegar.

Not Oxyclean carpet cleaner, not some kind of pet stain remover miracle worker.  Not Swiffer.

Bleach and vinegar.

The main benefit to bleach and vinegar is that they are cheap in bulk.  I own three geriatric pets and one that likes to pee on the floor.  I clean a LOT.

My morning ritual goes something like this: 

Step 1:  Clean Litter Box 1.  This takes roughly ten minutes because Percy likes to scratch the litter until he's demolished the convenient little clumps the litter creates, thus rendering the whole idea of clumping litter moot.  So then I get to sift through the litter over and over, scooping out every last tiny clump I can find in an effort to minimize the spread of ick.

Step 2:  Clean Litter Box 2.  If Puckett has gotten to it first then all I have to clean is one pee clump and one pile of poop.  If Percy has gotten to it then it's more of the same in Step 1.

Step 3:  Clean Litter Box 3.  Some mornings it's empty.  Some mornings Percy is P'O'ed at the fact that Puckett beat him to one of the first litter boxes and has peed and pooped in it, scratched the litter into a mound in one corner, and sprayed litter all over the floor around the box.

Step 4: Clean Litter Box 4.  This is Willow's litter box in her cage.  Usually there is only one pee clump in it, and therefore fairly easy to clean.  Also, wonder upon wonders, Willow has actually been pooping in one of the other three litter boxes, and even more wondrous, I've actually caught her peeing in a box downstairs (something she hasn't done in years since Percy started attacking her when she would use the box).

Step 5:  Return downstairs to where the first two litter boxes are and vacuum the pile of litter surrounding both boxes.  Soak a paper town full of bleach and wipe down tile.

Step 6:  Return upstairs and repeat Step 5 around the third litter box.

Step 7: Sprinkle Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh in all four boxes.

This whole process takes me half an hour.  It is mostly repeated two or three times throughout the day.

Keep in mind, if you are thinking of adopting a kitten or a cat, this is not a normal routine for normal pets.  Most cats are fairly easy to take care of.

My house is small enough that I don't have an extra "mud room" or laundry room where I can banish the cats and their boxes, and I refuse to have a litter box in my closet (GROSS) in order to keep it hidden.  Also, there is no room in the bathroom.

The appropriate solution here is to a.) keep covered litter boxes in an attractive, carpet-covered box that seconds as a scratching post; b.) keep one or two litter boxes on the top floor of my house under Willow's cage where no one ever goes; c.) toilet train the cats; or d.) outlive the three cats and then never again collect so many cute, furry, killers that poop in a box under one roof.

Covered litter boxes don't work with my cats.  Puckett doesn't fit,  Percy is claustrophobic. Willow is deathly afraid of getting trapped in one and then attacked by Percy.  I can't keep only two litter boxes in my house as is demonstrated by Percy who has his routine of eating breakfast and then pooping in one box, then promptly getting in the second box and peeing in it, and then going upstairs to the third box and peeing or pooping in it as well.  I know enough about cat behavior to realize that this is territorial behavior. Forget toilet training the cats.  With as much as they poop and pee I'd never get a chance to use my own toilet if I was constantly waiting for a cat to finish its business.

Plus Percy would get all territorial about the toilet.

Outliving the cats appears to be my best option.  I have at least another six or seven years.

For the record, Mr. Territorial Percy doesn't actually need to use three litter boxes in one day.  When he was an only cat, I had one litter box (ah, the days....how I miss those days), and he did just fine with it.  His hogging of litter boxes only sends a message to the other cats.  Puckett does not care about his message and will proceed to use the box anyway.  She has even sat in a recently cleaned one and used it as a bed one night to drive her point home.  Willow usually restricts her litter box usage to the two upstairs.  The one in her cage is small and only her tiny butt fits in it so the other cats avoid it.  Although, Percy has tried on occasion to force himself into it in order to assert his insistence that all litter boxes belong to him.

He is beginning to get frustrated at the lack of respect regarding litter boxes, and he demonstrates this frustration by becoming increasingly zealous in flinging litter everywhere whenever he uses the box.

This morning, for example, there was a huge puddle of litter sprayed across the tile floor around the boxes downstairs.

Thus bleach and vinegar.  I bleach the floors around my litter boxes twice a day.  I also bleach the boxes every day.  If I'm changing the litter completely, I dump everything and sanitize the boxes. Otherwise I take a paper towel soaked in bleach and wipe down the sides of the boxes and all around them.  Thank God I pulled the carpeting out, not only because Willow was peeing on it beside the box (yuck), but also because, not only can you not get cat pee out of the carpet once it's there, litter doesn't vacuum up completely either, Dyson or not.  Gravel gets stuck in the fibers.  The vinegar comes in handy here.  There is one spot in the carpet that Willow peed in that I have not had a chance to yank up yet, but I discovered that a cocktail of vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda have worked wonders on it.  For problematic cat pee spots try:

Step 1: Soak the carpet with vinegar.  Pat with a towel to suck up some of the moisture and then let dry for 24 hours. I left my backdoor open next to the spot, and it was in the middle of summer.  If you don't have that option, turn a fan on it.

Step 2: Dump apple cider vinegar and lemon juice on the spot.  Let dry again.

Step 3:  Dump baking soda on the spot (a LOT of baking soda, like the whole box) and leave it for a week.  No, I'm not kidding. 

Step 4: Vacuum the baking soda.  Repeat as necessary.  It is important to let the spot dry between soakings or you'll get mildew.

Meanwhile keep the cat away from that spot with tinfoil.  Do NOT use a towel or rag over it, your cat will just pee on it too.  As for keeping kitty from peeing on the floor entirely, I've tried every trick in the book on Willow and all that worked was crating her with her own litter box.

And after all that, I'm still not done with the cleaning.  There is a backyard full of dog poop to clean at least once a week, but usually more like twice a week, especially when Surina comes to visit. 

But at least the backyard doesn't need to be bleached.

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