I have worked in animal rescue a long time. One thing that I’ve learned is how to effectively minimize animal hair and odors on my own. You see I have a system, and it works. The only flaw in my system is that I’m the only one who does it. The kids, well they tend to make themselves scarce when animal needs arise. That was until my youngest daughter came to me and asked if she could rescue a little of homeless kittens.
To her helping homeless animals is a natural part of life so when she saw five little babies heading to the local animal shelter she knew right away what fate they had in store. She also knew that mommy doesn’t offer to help too many kitties and so she offered to take full responsibility if I said yes. What she saw was an opportunity to save five kittens. What I saw was an opportunity to teach!
You see animal rescue isn’t all about fun and playing with cute babies. In fact there is a huge amount of responsibility in their care, feeding, hygiene and vetting prior to adoption. Until now my 10 year old spent her involvement on the play side of rescue. Now was my opportunity to get her involved on the more demanding side, and that included helping maintain a clean, odor- and hair-free living space!
It All Begins with the Litter Box
What many cat owners may not realize is the majority of your cat odors come from the litter box. Either odors seep from the box or particles stick to your cat’s paws and fur when using the bathroom, later to be tracked all through your house. If you can properly maintain your litter box you’ll be leaps ahead of kitty odor.
But it’s not just odors we are preventing when it comes to a clean box. Failure to remove dirty litter can actually lead to diseases such as urinary tract infections. When you have five kittens this becomes five times more important!
So my daughter and I sat down and discussed the frequency it would take to ensure our home smelled clean and our cats stayed healthy. We agreed to scoop the box twice a day and a complete change out once a week. After showing her how to clean the litter box I turned the complete responsibility over to her, with a little reminder if it needed to get done.
No More Cat Hair? It’s All in the Way You Vacuum
If you’ve ever assigned vacuuming to your children then you are probably all too familiar with their haphazard approach to sweeping the floors. I am always amazed to see my children push the vacuum in a zigzag back and forth over the same spot then wrap up and claim they’re done.
This type of sweeping will never remove the fast-accumulating cat hair from these five kittens and it was important that my daughter understood that. To begin I let her vacuum her way for a week. Then at the end of the week I took a broom and “swept” up all the hair along the edges of the carpet.
She had to laugh when I showed her how much was there. After this demonstration she happily confessed that she figured since our allergy vacuum was so good it would get all the hairs by itself. Such a simplistic view I always admire.
It only took one time showing her how to make sure she covers the entire floor and the speed in which she should move the vacuum to ensure picking up as much hair as possible. After a few practice runs she was ready to take charge again and I was more than satisfied with the end result.
Lending a Hand with Odor Control
It wouldn’t be fair to put the entire burden of odor control on my daughter. After all we do have other rescues in the house that she didn’t ask to bring in. This is where part of my system comes in handy. Remember I said I have a proven system that worked? A huge portion of that is of course how I clean on a daily basis, but one portion is definitely lending a hand when those sneaky odor particles get past our efforts.
When my daughter brought home her foster kittens we had already select which air purifiers we would need to manage all the pollutants and odors that float around our home. Adding the kittens and their litter box was well within the air purifier’s capacity to clean from the air.
So that my daughter could be part of this aspect too I showed her how to monitor the purifier and determine if it needs service (we don’t use filters) and how to assess if we might want to consider adding an extra purifier to the mix.
By allowing my daughter to take responsibility and foster her first litter of kittens I not only encouraged her passion to save a life, but I also got a helper in the daily routine of controlling animal hair and odors. After all, life gets easier when you have someone to cut your chores in half!