Cats can leave your house in utter disarray, by scratching your furniture or turning your living space into a cursed smell from hell. But you as a cat owner can change your living space to smell like a fresh haven. These easy steps will leave your guests wondering if you still have a feline in your home. The usual problems include spraying, scratching of furniture and even keeping your cat worm- and flea-free. See page 14 for some advice on deworming, tick and flea programmes.
Eliminate the smell
Having a cat is no excuse for a foul-smelling home. It is your duty as cat owner to try and prevent your cat from spraying in your home. You also need to clean it when you do stumble upon a sprayed area. Ordinary household cleaners will not do the work. The best time to clean a stain caused by spraying is immediately after it happened.
To clean your upholstery, you will have to dab the sprayed area with absorbent paper towel to ensure that most of the urine is absorbed. If the stain has already dried, use a solvent – citrus-scented solvents will best eliminate the urine smell. Apply it to a cloth rather than directly on the stain and work in circular motions to clean the stain. Work from the outside inwards. It is important that you dry the wet part immediately to ensure a fresh smell.
Spraying is not only a territorial response: it can also mean that your cat is stressed. There are a few other reasons that cause your cat to spray, like other cats within the perimeter, a new person in the house or even a urinary tract infection. Be sure to find the cause of the spraying and try to eliminate it. First take your cat to the vet to eliminate any health issues. Your vet will prescribe drugs that might fix the problem. If the problem is stress-related, a behaviourist will be able to advise you on how to help your cat. During the period in which your cat still sprays, you will need to clean the sprayed areas thoroughly.
It is in a cat’s nature to scratch. By scratching she keeps her nails sharp by shedding the dead outer layer of her claws. It is also used to mark her territory – they have scent glands on their paws. You, as a cat owner, will never be able to stop a cat from scratching. However, you will be able to help her recognise where she is allowed to scratch.
Build or buy a scratch post for your feline friend and place the post in a sunny, breeze-free room. It will also be beneficial to put some catnip on the post (if your cat likes it) to ensure that she falls in love with the post. Show your cat that it is acceptable to scratch the post by going through the motions yourself. Cats usually scratch after they wake up, when they perform their stretching exercises. Make sure that once she wakes up, she goes to the scratch post. You can show her where it is. You can even replace the frequently scratched piece of furniture with the scratching post, or place it next to it with some catnip on.
Keep her stimulated throughout the day. Toys will help her exercise and will allow her to scratch them, thus keeping your furniture out of harm’s way. When you do catch her scratching your furniture or another undesirable area, take her to her scratching post. You can also distract her with a toy. Avoid physical punishment, as this stresses your cat more. You can also cover your furniture in things that your cat does not like, for instance sticky tape or Velcro. If all else fails, you can cover your furniture with durable materials and replace it occasionally.
It is not uncommon for cats to shed, but it can lead to a dirty-looking home. By brushing your cat regularly, it will lessen the shedding. But there are some ways in which you can clean it easily. A pet vacuum cleaner is a great tool to have. Another way to remove the hair is by mixing one part fabric softener with three parts water and spraying it onto the furniture that is covered with hair. Use your hands to roll the hair off or make use of dishwashing gloves. A damp sponge is also useful, as the hair clings to the sponge for easy removal.
Static electricity works for shorter hair: it can easily be lifted by rubbing a balloon against a cloth and slowly moving it over the affected area.
You, your family and your cat can live a clean and wholesome life if the guidelines are followed. When hygiene is a priority, a foul-smelling home will not be your downfall. Remember to keep your cat in mind when cleaning your living space