How I Cat-Proofed My Home: Strategies for Dealing with Fur, Poop, and Throw Up

Dealing with unruly cats, endless balls of cat fur, and litter tracked throughout the house can be a challenge. But I’ve found a few effective ways of gaining the upper hand.

I have four cats. Crazy, you’re probably thinking–and you’re absolutely correct! With that much fur, litter, and cat mess to contend with, I’ve had to implement some creative, odd, and yet effective ways of cat-proofing my house.

Floors


The tile in the basement is finally laid!

I am in the process of putting down tile and hardwood throughout the house. The carpet that’s down right now is starting to look worn and dirty (as all carpet does after a few years), so I figured why not go for hard floors everywhere in the house? They’re more expensive, but they are much easier to clean (think how easy it will be to mop up cat fur, hairballs, and any other cat mishaps!). These hard floors also last longer than carpet.

Cleaning


The Bissell Little Green is great for clean-up jobs.

The Bissell Little Green is a life saver. I use it mainly to clean up cat throw up. (Perhaps a little TMI there; sorry to those of you who have delicate sensibilities.) This wet vac is really easy to use, too. I just squirt a little enzymatic pet cleaner on the soiled area, and then use Little Green to suck up the cleaner. This vacuum has two reservoirs–one to collect the liquid the machine sucks up and one that holds clean water that you can spray out.

Plants


This is an aloe vera cactus, which is toxic for cats, but my cats, miraculously, don’t try to eat this plant.

I only grow cacti in my house. I found out the hard way that my cats don’t do well with any other types of plants. The problem is they love sampling other plants. They then throw up throughout the house and/or get diarrhea. Ewww! Also, another thing to consider is many common house plants are toxic to cats. The spines on cacti seem to be a big enough deterrent to keep my kitties from snacking on them.

Bedroom

I made the bedroom a cat-free zone. Ah, a little oasis! I’m allergic to cats (ironic that I have four of them!), but keeping them out of the bedroom has helped lessen my reaction to them. As an interesting side note, I’ve heard that people who are allergic to cats become somewhat immune to their own kitties. I have found this to be true, and taking the extra step of keeping the cats out of your bedroom can also make a huge difference.

Furniture

It’s very easy to clean cat fur off my leather couch.

Any new furniture I buy is leather (or imitation leather), not cloth. It is so much easier to wipe cat hair off of a leather surface than off of fabric.


It’s not so easy to clean cat fur from my fabric couch. Notice all the fur build-up on it. Gross!

Litter Boxes

I’ve experimented with different placements of the litter boxes. I used to have covered litter boxes in the laundry room, but I found that the cats were still tracking litter everywhere. Also, the boxes took up a lot of room. Now I have the boxes in an unused bathtub. While I know this isn’t an option for everyone, it might be for people who have a spare bathroom with a tub that isn’t being used.


Here’s the litter box in the tub. The tub and shower curtain keep the cats from spreading the litter all over the floor.

Cat Breeds

I currently have one Cornish Rex and I’ve also owned a Sphynx. Both breeds hardly shed at all. Both breeds are also very good for people with allergies. While I don’t recommend that you trade in your furry cat models for a slick hairless or minimal-hair cat, you might consider these breeds of cats in the future. If you are averse to buying a cat from a breeder because there are so many homeless pets in shelters, might I recommend that you investigate the pets available at a Sphynx or Cornish Rex rescue? Also, many shelters have purebred cats; you just need to be diligent in your search for them. As an added bonus, these two breeds of cats are often more people-oriented and outgoing than the average cat.


Gizmo, the Cornish Rex

I also currently have a Persian cat. I’ve found that shaving his hair in the spring cuts down on the amount of hair that he sheds.


Murphy, the Persian (in a grocery bag–lol) with his hair shaved

Cat Love

All of the strategies that I’ve implemented to cat-proof my house are helping me to gain the upper hand on fur, litter, and general cat messes! Part of the joy of living with cats, however, is realizing that you can’t completely cat-proof your house. Cats provide us with an endless supply of kitty messes, but the unconditional love that they give us is worth every inconvenience.

Ah, the joys of cat ownership. I may have made progress towards cat-proofing my house, but I still have a lot of work to do to train my cats to behave (e.g., not hang out on the kitchen counter!).

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  1. cutedrishti8

    On September 3, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Nice one to share with us…Nice choice

  2. catlord

    On September 3, 2009 at 8:27 am

    We briefly adopted a cat (which looks EXACTLY like that first image BTW) and that little demon freakizoid tore our apartment apart! She hissed, she sputtered, she spat, she threw herself against the balcony windows to escape (we’re on the 4th storey so no, this is not permitted) and she um, -pooped EVERY time I walked past the hairy furball… she’d break into a streak and leave turd bullets in her wake!
    We ended up returning her to her former owner whom said that, if the adoption failed she DID want the cat back and GOOD RIDDANCE!! That was like 7-months ago and we are STILL finding cat hair on furniture and rugs, etc. and we are STILL insistent upon NO CATS for us!

  3. lillyrose

    On September 3, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Hahaha…I loved your upbeat, casual manor towards all things catty. I have two dogs and have already taken most of the steps you have with your cats. I have a very long length of material that goes from the back door and over the whole length of the kitchen floor when its wet…save muddy feet every where.

  4. Payge

    On September 3, 2009 at 9:58 am

    I have one fat lazy cat that is bugging my asthma to pieces.But I do have a problem of hair and stuff like any cat owner does.She even sits on top of the fish tank until it caved in and she got wet.But I live alone and she is company for me,I lover her.Likes the way it was written only a cat lover could write it.

  5. Melody SJAL

    On September 3, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Such cute cats.

  6. Uma Shankari

    On September 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your articles. All the tips were useful, practical and simple. Great job. Interesting reading.

  7. WriteEditSeek

    On September 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    @ cutedrishti8 — Thanks so much!

    @ Stickman — I thought I’d die laughing when I read your comment. “Turd bullets”–too funny. I’m sorry the freakizoid kitty didn’t work out.

    @ lilyrose — We animal people will do just about anything for our pets, huh?

    @ Payge — I get really itchy eyes from cat fur, but it’s not too much of an inconvenience. Cats are wonderful company.

    @ Melody — Thank you!

    @ Uma — Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I’m glad that you found the tips useful.

  8. Kinga

    On September 3, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Cool article! I love it! Thanks for mentioning all the homeless pets in animal shelters!

  9. WriteEditSeek

    On September 3, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    @ Kinga — Thanks! Yes, there are many homeless pets in animal shelters. The sad reality is that many of these animals are not adopted–especially the older ones.

  10. Janet Meyer

    On September 3, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Some really ideas here. I have two cats, and I comb mine quite often and put some anti-alergic spray on a cloth and rub them with that. Then I comb them again. Thanks for all the thoughts on cat care.

  11. emmahaynes

    On September 3, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks soooo much for the share! I literally JUST got a new cat today, she was from an animal shelter originally but the guy that picked her up owns a restaurant and after she ran downstairs, jumped through the kitchen window and onto a customers table-doh! He decided it would be best to give her to someone else.

    So I now have a crazy (but beautiful) black cat named Onyx to care for :D

  12. Nikita K

    On September 3, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    I don’t have ANY pets but this is actually pretty useful for those who do. I’m pretty sure loads have pets and this tells you exactly what to do. Some brilliant tips to ‘cat proof’ your house that I think every pet owner needs especially if he owns a cat. Good work.

  13. WriteEditSeek

    On September 3, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    @ Janet — I haven’t heard of anti-allergic spray. I will have to look into that.
    @ emmahaynes — That’s a fun story about how you got your cat. :) I hope things work out with her. :) She sounds like she has a lot of personality.
    @ Atikin — Thanks you! I hope people will find it useful.

  14. CaSundara

    On September 3, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I have leather sofas and wooden/tiled floors and I can’t imagine going back to carpet, although it does mean you’re constantly hoovering because the dust and fur doesn’t stick and, consequently, floats around in the air whenever there’s any movement. That’s not good for someone with allergies.
    Strangely, my cats don’t have hairballs, which is odd because the last one did. They don’t eat anti-furball food, either, because it sounds a bit suspicious.
    That enzyme solution is bloody brilliant! I use mainly for mess the children make, but occasionally it’s the the cats. That was my best find this year, and it was an American product, too. I’ve never seen anything like it before, so maybe it’s new over here.

  15. Leslee

    On September 3, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Very cute! I have two good boys…Ozzy and Trogdor…two sphynx.

  16. Lostash

    On September 3, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    NO cats in the bedroom!!! I agree 100%, the bloody hairs get everywhere!!!

  17. WriteEditSeek

    On September 3, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    @ CaSundara — Carpet is quite nasty. I’ll be so glad when we get all the floors in our house redone.
    I’ve found that the anti-hairball food doesn’t work for my cats at all. Brushing them daily is the best hairball prevention.
    And, yeah, the enzymatic cleaner is a huge help!
    @ Leslee — I love spyhnx–they are such sweet, friendly alien kitties.
    @ Lostash — Yes, hairs in the bedroom are disgusting. ;)

  18. Joe Dorish

    On September 3, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Good tips, luckily when I had a cat he spent most of his time outdoors and I didn’t even need a litter box with him though he would occasionally throw-up in the house.

  19. ellenhart

    On September 3, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    i really like your article it can really help cat owners out

  20. WriteEditSeek

    On September 4, 2009 at 12:27 am

    @ Joe — It seems cats and throw up go hand in hand, unfortunately.

    @ Ellen — Thanks you!

  21. Jenny Heart

    On September 4, 2009 at 6:52 am

    I have 4 cats too. They always kept trying to lay in the cloths baskets. I found out how to stop that. Just lay a few hangers on the top of your clothes. No more problem with that. Great article. I added you as a friend.

  22. giftarist

    On September 4, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Thanks for the advice – really helpful

  23. WriteEditSeek

    On September 4, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    @ Mrs. Heart — Nice to meet a fellow crazy cat lady. :) When I tell people I have four cats, they always give me a confused look of pity. LOL I’ll have to try the hanger strategy in the clothes basket. Hairs on freshly washed laundry is always a little gross.

    @ giftarist — Thank you!

  24. fishfry aka Elizabeth Figueroa

    On September 4, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Yes four cats are a bit much, and it does seem you have done a lot to cat proof your home, I find it “funny” that your allergic too them. A great article I truly enjoyed reading it.
    As for training the cats to stay off the kitchen counter, it looks like they have you trained.
    Refreshing

  25. WriteEditSeek

    On September 5, 2009 at 12:09 am

    @ fishfry — Yes, indeed, they do have me trained!

  26. Lauren Axelrod

    On September 5, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Ok, I can not put the litter box in the tub. My manx thinks she’s now my assistant archaeologist and excavates her box everyday. lol

  27. WriteEditSeek

    On September 5, 2009 at 2:26 am

    @ Lauren — I can just picture your manx, the excavator. That’s fantastic. I’ve had some digger kitties as well, though, thankfully, my current cats have gotten over those tendencies.

  28. Frances Lawrence

    On September 26, 2009 at 4:32 am

    Nice writing style and good information. I have two cats and I have found hard floors so much easier than carpet. Leather sofas are a mixed blessing, it is easier to manage cat hair, but it is hard to prevent the cats scratching them, I also ban the cats from the bedrooms and also from the kitchen, they are slow learners but eventually they get the idea!

  29. Guest

    On September 28, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    re the leather/faux leather furniture, warning, some cats like the feel of kneading leather with their claws .. the leather doesn’t take it well.

  30. WriteEditSeek

    On September 29, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for mentioning the potential problems with leather. My cats have been fine with it, but I can imagine leather could be a nightmare if your cats started kneading it.

  31. Lyta

    On October 2, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Great article. I loved reading it and the comments. I wish I had four cats, due to Mother-in-law\\\’s move in with us, we had 7 between 2 households and husband inherited rescuing kitties from his mom so now we have 9. No outside homeless pet is safe around us :) We have 3 rescue dogs, one from puppy mill shut down/discovery, one who arrived on our doorstep via neighbor house when mother refused to allow son to keep puppy he bought at trade day, and one who jumped in truck behind the first two at a creek visit. All cats surviving (three are over 16) were rescues of various types but last 3 showed up (we live out in very rural area surrounded by farms) hungry, dirty and scared in the middle of cold winters. Last two were not litter mates but apparently became pals to survive. One obviously much better at it than the other, who was a skeleton with skin. So yes, I have messes. Best carpet cleaner for pet stains overall stains, 409 foam. I also am slowly converting to all hard floors however I will miss carpets warmth. I have one persistent cat (age 8) who refuses to pee in a litter box anymore. No matter what I do or what I\\\’ve tried she won\\\’t cooperate and if I make it too difficult for her to use her chosen spot (litter box room is hard floor and thank goodness for hoover floor mate) she will simply use next to \\\”my\\\” areas (chair, shoes or bed) right in front of me. I believe the only way she would use a box is if I had new boxes daily with fresh litter and no one had used any of them yet. I have 9 boxes, no tops but deep. Clean twice a day and change litter weekly. Tried every litter out there and eventually went back to A&M with crystals. Got any ideas?

  32. WriteEditSeek

    On October 2, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Wow, Lyta, I thought I was a pretty hardcore pet lover, but you’ve got me beat by a long way! What a nice person you must be to be a caretaker to all of those rescued animals. Bless your heart. It seems that the behavioral issues get worse the more animals you acquire. That’s been my experience. Things were good with two, but started to deteriorate once I adopted the third and fourth kitties. The kitties all pretty much get along and aren’t destructive now, but it’s taken a while to get to this point.

  33. WriteEditSeek

    On October 2, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Lyta — Have you tried Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract Litter? I’ve had success with it. Also, you might try mixing clay litter with the crystals. I started doing that because one of my cats didn’t like the crystals much. The clumping of the clay stuff is also nice. The crystals are nice because they provide good odor control.

  34. Netty net

    On January 9, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    How your creative on how clean up after your cats. I have one cat.

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