Every year, as the calendar flips and Spring approaches, our thoughts turn to fresh starts, clean beginnings, and tidying up all aspects of our lives. This includes those furry companions and housemates who are famous for, shall we say, being less than cooperative in cleanup efforts.
Sure, they might spend hours grooming themselves, but cats come with their own array of cleanliness challenges. Still, there’s no time like the present to do some spring cleaning – and getting your cathouse in order!
Prepping the space
Whether your fur baby is a homebody or a Harry Houdini, you’re going to want to start your spring cleaning by making sure your space is secure before you open doors, windows, and other points of egress. Find a temporary “holding room” that will be comfortable and create a stress-free environment for your cat to spend the next few hours. Move their favorite toys and other familiar items into this space and give them some loving snuggles or strokes and encouraging words before closing the door and getting down to business. Play some soothing music like this cat calmness playlist, and diffuse some tea tree oil or another of your cat’s favorite scents to set the mood and drown out the sound of the vacuum.
Now that your cat is safely sequestered, let’s get down and dirty with our Spring cleaning!
The good stuff
Make sure before you start cleaning that you are using non-toxic, pet-friendly materials. Avoid bleach, ammonia, or other harmful cleaners in places your cat might traffic. You can usually find safe alternatives by avoiding the following characteristics:
- Artificial fragrances
- Artificial colors
- Non-biodegradable or recyclable packaging
Let the right filter in
Most of your living space is comprised of air. It needs a good cleaning too!
One side effect of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a rise in awareness of air quality and the array of air filters on the market. For many pet owners, long accustomed to battling airborne dander and unwelcome smells, this is not news.
For the less initiated, a great place to start is by shopping for a high-efficiency particulate air filter, commonly called a “HEPA” filter. These types of filters can help catch micro-particles that will give you fresher air in your home and strip many allergens from the environment.
Some make the mistake of thinking HEPA is a brand name. Rather, it is a designation made by the U.S. Department of Energy, categorizing filters and purifiers that remove at least 99.95% of particles whose diameter is equal to 0.3 μm, with the filtration efficiency increasing for particle diameters both less than and greater than 0.3 μm.
“Uh, Mau, what exactly does all of that mean?” Basically, it removes smaller airborne particles more efficiently than other filters.
Oh yeah, speaking of HEPA air purifiers, they make for great cat parent investments. They run the gamut in price, from smaller ones in the $100 range up to pricier models designed for larger spaces. But they can come in handy when having guests over to make a comfier, sneeze-free environment.
De-shed that bed!
We all know that cats love to leave tiny mementos around the house in the form of shedding. While we love every part of our feline friends, we can do without those little reminders that cling to clothing, carpets, and furniture.
Before stripping your bedding or furniture for laundering, be sure to run a lint-roller or tape over them to capture excess shedding. This will keep your washer or dryer lint trap from becoming overly clogged. Set your vacuum to deep-clean on rugs or carpeting to grab the stray hairs deep between fibers.
Quick pro-tip: As long as you have the lint-roller out, run it over your cat a few times. It will painlessly remove any loose hair and as an added bonus, they usually love it!
Your space & purr space
With the general living space cleaned, now let’s turn attention to your cat’s highest-trafficked areas. Start with their food storage and bowls. With warmer spring weather comes unwanted insect party crashers, so check your food storage space to make sure no pests have infiltrated. If budget allows, trash your food bags and invest in Tupperware or sealable plastic containers that can keep the food safe and healthy.
Clean your cat’s water bowl with soap and water, using vinegar and water to remove hard water deposits. Scrub and rinse hard – you might need to put some elbow grease into it. Try to wait to clean until your cat’s food bowl is empty to avoid unnecessary waste. Use the same non-toxic soap and cleaner to scrub the bowl and let it air-dry.
Separately wash or launder all your cat’s toys with non-toxic soap or mild detergent. Do an audit of their playthings and see if any are becoming too tattered or stinky to keep around. Another quick pro-tip: make a habit of putting cat toys away every night. This helps prevent gross-ification of their belongings, and also provides some structure to your cat’s nightly routine.
And finally… the litterbox
If you make a regular habit of cleaning and refreshing your litter, there won’t be much need for intensive cleaning. But even if you’re a neat freak with your cat’s box, there are a few things you should do to make that cursed corner brand-new.
Start by removing all litter boxes from the area and grab your trusty hand vacuum (old-fashioned brooms and dustpans work as well). Sweep or vacuum those pesky litter pieces that went overboard. If your litter boxes are on tile, vinyl, or hardwood floor, go the extra step and wipe down the area with a floor-safe disinfectant spray or wipe.
While your litter boxes are out of the area, now is a great time to completely empty all remaining litter and fill the empty boxes. Once empty, clean with vinegar and water, and air dry in the sun.
Avoid spraying fragrances like Febreze in the area. Instead, we recommend a cool diffuser that cannot be reached or a plug-in deodorizer. Some fur moms and dads prefer to light candles near their litter space, but first, ask yourself: how would your cat react to an open flame? Is it the kind of thing you can envision them mischievously knocking to the floor? If so, act accordingly. Safety first!
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