Ask a Clean Person: Why Haven’t You Gotten Rid of Your Cats Yet?

I have two cats and have for a while, long before I bought a lovely 1920s bungalow. I love them… but the whole joke “this is why you can’t have nice things?” totally applies here. My litterbox is cleaned regularly, I scoop daily, I have no smell issues with the box itself, but I have one cat that sometimes doesn’t get her ass all the way in the box. I had this problem in the past and ended up with a litterbox with a hood, which got rid of 75% of the issue. Except for the hole in the front where they enter the box, so every few weeks we get cat pee on the floor at the entrance to the litterbox.

Right, enough explanation. My house is old, the closet where I keep the litterbox is tiled. Both me and the live-in love work all day and sometimes the cat pee isn’t cleaned up immediately. Tile + cat pee = cat pee smelling closet. So, clean person, how do I get the cat pee smell out of tile? And how can I prevent this in the first place?

Thanks as ever. And while my live-in love would support the “get rid of your cats” solution, I cannot part ways with them. They’re my stupid lemon cats, I’m gonna keep ‘em.

Well shoot, if you’re gonna keep ’em I’m kind of shit out of luck on the advice front. Humph. But if you’re set on keeping ’em I guess I can help you. Here’s what to do: Take everything out of the litterbox closet and do a full clean up of the area, heavy on the baking soda and enzymatic cleaner. Hydrogen peroxide is also a good option for cat pee. You’ll want to focus mostly on the grout because that’s what’s holding in the odors, so having a small scrub brush or an old toothbrush on hand will be essential. Don’t use any bleach-based products, or products with lemon or orange (cats HATE the smell of citrus. I know! Crazy cats). As we learned the last time I encouraged you to get rid of your cats, our feline friends have extra sensitive olfactory systems. Which, wouldn’t you think that creatures with a heightened sense of smell wouldn’t, you know, LEAVE THEIR PEE-PEE EVERYWHERE???

OK, now once that’s done and you can start fresh. Literally! (Sorry.)

Now it’s time to think about prevention. Look, your life is your life is your life, and not being tethered to the home all day, every day is pretty normal. If you can’t get to accident sites immediately, no biggie! Go and get either (a) some cheap bathmats that are small enough to sit in front of the litter box. Put the little kitty welcome mat in front of the box — that way, any waste will go on the mat rather than on the floor. Change the mat out every other day and launder the dirty ones if you have a washing machine handy. Or, if laundering things on the regular isn’t realistic, get (b) wee wee pads and just dispose of them every other day. Poof! Problem solved.

OK, so while you’re doing that, I’m going to busy myself with dying of envy over your “lovely 1920s bungalow.”

My question is sad, and also gross. My 18-year-old cat passed away recently and I have been frantically, compulsively cleaning the flat so that I stop finding his shed fur and shed whiskers and shed claws everywhere, because whenever I do find these things I turn into a gigantic blubbering mess. The flat has hardwood floors; they’re original to the building, so about 130 years old, but they’re in good shape. Anyway, my cat had some health problems in his last years and vomited a lot. Of course I kept things clean while he was alive, and always cleaned up after him, but there are a few places where his stomach acid seems to have stained the wood with a vigor beyond my power to combat. I used to just cover the stains with towels and blankets, which hid them and gave him soft things to sit on. But now that he’s gone I’ve put the towels and blankets away… and uncovered the stains. I must have spent two hours and an entire bottle of spray cleaner/polish on them the other day, but the stains persist.

I never expected to find myself weeping over cat-barf. Any suggestions (short of refinishing the floors, I’m afraid) would be so much appreciated.

Awww I’m so sorry about your cat. It’s very sad when we lose pets, and it’s healthy to grieve, even if it is over piles of vomit.

As I do in these situations, I turned to noted cat puke-expert Choire Sicha for help. Quoth Choire:

No but what is she doing, she’s abrading wood floors??? She needs a strong cleaner but then she needs OIL, LADY, OIL. Orange and lemon oil! GRIEF MAKES YOU DO TERRIBLE THINGS. Also Murphy’s Soap! I’m concerned the cure is going to be worse than the barf. Man, I found a white hair on a sweater three months later and lost my mind.

Now, if it is the case that the stains are beyond cleaning, yes you’ll have to do some refinishing. Our very own Handy Femme, Lucia Martinez, will take you through that process in an upcoming column, so stay tuned for that.

In terms of a “strong cleaner” be on the lookout for a product called Anti-Icky-Poo. No seriously. Anti-Icky-Poo. You never knew cleaning could be this delightful, did you?

My kitchen has a white tile floor (pretty large tiles). We also have two cats, and three people in the house, so not only does the cat food kinda constantly surround their bowls, but there just seems to be hair everywhere. And the white is pretty unforgiving if we get ANYTHING on the floor. For the rest of the house I can pretty much do a weekly vacuum with occasional hand-vac spot treatment and it’ll look great, but I feel like no matter how much I sweep/vacuum/swiffer wet-jet the kitchen the floor never looks clean. Am I doomed to have to scrub on my hands and knees every day? Is there anything that I can do? Because now I feel like anyone coming into my kitchen thinks I’m a slob!

Unfortunately, there’s really no way to prevent cat hair from mucking up your floors — there’s just not a product out there that repels cat hair from floors. To minimize the impact of the shedded fur, how about getting some throw rugs? Rag rugs or bathmat-type rugs that can easily be thrown in the wash or shaken out once a week are your best bet.

In terms of how you’re washing the floors, try switching to a Windex solution or an ammonia solution and doing a hands-and-knees clean once a week. Those Swiffer things are junk, just utter rubbish. You might find you get a better result that way and paired with the throw rugs the effect might be better for your kitchen.

Also, do you know about mop slippers? OK, well now you do. MOP SLIPPERS!

I grew up in a dirty house so I vowed to never own a pet as an adult. My roommate did not make that vow to her childhood self, so now I have a cat in my house and generally I like the cat even though she’s a bitch who kicks cat food all over the kitchen the floor for fun. I was paranoid the cat would pee on things, so we scoop the litter box often. Despite this, the cat peed on my beautiful white comforter. I told you she was a bitch. Now my beautiful white comforter has yellow pee stains. How do I get it out!?! Is it salvageable? I don’t have an extra $80 for a new one right now, so I don’t want to give up if my miracle is just around the corner. Could I maybe dump some vinegar on it? How about a magic eraser? Something? Anything?

OxyClean is your answer. Make a paste with a li’l water and apply it to the stains. Let it sit and then rinse it off using a clean sponge or a soft bristled brush; I do things like this in the tub generally because you can force water through the material by running the tap and you’ve also got a nice big hard surface to really bear into the stain with your scrub brush. That should do it! You might need more than one application, but keep up with it. If there are still faint stains, try washing the comforter with bluing.

Remember bluing? Of course you do! OK, well the bluing will help to eliminate the appearance of any faint yellow stains that the Oxy can’t get out.

Previously: Butt Marker, Cast Iron, and Hood Grease.

Jolie Kerr is not paid to endorse any of the products mentioned in this column, but she sure would be very happy to accept any free samples the manufacturers care to send her way! Are you looking for a green alternative to the suggestions found here? Because we’ve got some! More importantly: Is anything you own dirty?