Thursday, November 18, 2010

Affordable Cat Maintenance

Johann and Wolfgang

In addition to Miss M, we have 3 furry kids: Wolfgang, Johann, and Duke. They're two big fat cats and a huge puppy. I adopted the kitties 6 years ago, when they were rowdy kittens. In six years, those poor cats have moved 3 times, got an annoying big brother (Duke), and now have a very curious 8-month-old who has discovered how to pull fur out by the fistfull.

Although they put up with all of this change without much fuss, we did develop a litter box problem. Their restroom was relegated to the basement last January, in preparation for the new babe. Ventilation is poor down there, and while I was pregnant, B was in charge of the litter changes. (Risk of toxoplasmosis.) B, ever interested in minimizing the workload and shrinking the budget, cut some corners that led to an odor problem. Then a marking problem. Now, they regularly poop outside the box. I can't begin to express how this grosses me out.

Last night, I got into my hazmat gear (read: grungy pajama bottoms and handkerchief over my face) and reclaimed my role as germ eliminator. While B was in charge of things, I let him make the decisions about what to buy, how frequently to clean, etc. But I think I have a cheaper and more effective method.

First, we were getting a 40 lb container of clumping cat litter at the local wholesale club for about $21. It's dusty, has a perfume odor, and after the cats use it, leaves an ammonia smell behind. Ick! When the fluff balls were kittens, I used Feline Pine, but that was before all of the other expenses associated with home ownership, having a child, and only one income. I did some digging and found something that looks and smells a lot like the Feline Pine: Equine Fresh. I don't know how similar the products are in reality, but I wouldn't know the difference if it weren't for the label. Here's the great news: Equine Fresh is $5 for a 40 lb bag at the local Tractor Supply! Woo-hoo!

After doing a massive clean-up downstairs, I filled the litter box with some of the pellets. I also bought a second litter box and placed it across the room and filled it with the new litter. So far, the basement is back to smelling like basement and a little like woodshop. Not great, but a vast improvement over the ammonia odor. However, I did get the daily poop gift just outside the box. I'm hoping it's just that one of the cats got used to the space and will learn to go back to the box. (B was not diligent about keeping things clean, and the poop surprises started as the result of unclean litter.)

If you have tips to help, I'd appreciate it!


Sarah A.T.J. said...

Sadly, we had such problems with our kitty using the house for a litterbox, we had to change him to an outdoor cat:(
So, I have no advice. Nothing we tried worked...
I do know a great way to get cat urine out of carpet as much as possible though!

Geigerin said...

Thanks, Sarah! Thankfully, the problem is only in the unfinished basement. If it were a carpet issue, Barry would have re-homed our kitties already. :/