Return to the Old House Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Ahhh! Cats!

Posted by IBsmilin (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 18, 13 at 20:18

We moved into our first place a few weeks ago, and it's an older home that needs some work. We feel pretty good about what needs to be done, but one thing in particular that I'm concerned about is that there's strong evidence of previous cat in this home. It wouldn't be a problem if my mother weren't highly allergic to cats. This might work well for my husband though. ;) When we first moved in she spent 30 minutes in the home and couldn't breathe when she left, and at that point I hadn't connected the dots that cats actually were here, but now that I have, we need to remove all cat dander/hair. I've found matted cat hair in the coils of the refrigerator, and that got me thinking... where else am I not looking that I should be? I'd like to not get too crazy unless it's required. Any ideas?


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

We use an air purifier for our dogs dander. I have asthma and have noticed improvement. We also use Swiffer cloths and they do a great job of getting bits of whatever, that the broom and vacuum miss. I would think if you do a top to bottom spring cleaning, and run a purifier, that it would be fine. Our house used to have cats (I'm VERY allergic), and you can no longer tell.


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

We, too were so excited to have a wonderful old home. our POs were some serious pet fanciers. One room still has vinyl tile in it - that was the pets room. Anyway - we found hair everywhere.

Thankfully we werent allergic like your mom and just ran the shop vac constantly. Its annoying, but vacuuming seemed to be the best way, till we started serious restoration, and then all bets were off.

When we pulled out the 1978 hideous fridge, I thought a cat fell out from under it - but no, it was just a ball of cat and dog hair the size of a housecat - I kid you not. The worst was all the cat poo we found hiding in the heating ducts. OH MY ... that was pretty gross. maybe be on the lookout for that ...


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

Thanks. I haven't looked behind the stove yet. I am pretty concerned about the carpeted areas of the house, but I think it will be years before we can replace carpet. Thanks for the tips on swiffer cloths, and we'll look into getting an air purifier. Anything else? Any place pets might hide or crawl along or under that hair would be left? We're just not pet people and don't have a clue about this stuff...


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

Thanks. I haven't looked behind the stove yet. I am pretty concerned about the carpeted areas of the house, but I think it will be years before we can replace carpet. Thanks for the tips on swiffer cloths, and we'll look into getting an air purifier. Anything else? Any place pets might hide or crawl along or under that hair would be left? We're just not pet people and don't have a clue about this stuff...


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

and apparently I'm no good at replies here yet either. Apologies for the double post.


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

The previous poster made a good point, that I didn't think about. Cat hair has a way of getting everywhere, so maybe think about getting the ducts cleaned out. And get the carpets cleaned. Or rip them out, better yet, since they are great at holding on to so much nastiness. Since cat hair is so light and fluffy, as opposed to most dogs, it kinda floats around and sticks to everything. I'd be swiffering walls, vacuuming ceilings, etc, depending on how bad her allergies are.


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

if you have heating ducts....get the ducts cleaned.


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

I'd second getting rid of the carpet asap and not replacing it. When I moved into my current house and pulled up the 2 layers (!!) of shag (!!) carpet in the front porch (!!) which seemed like it had served as a cattery/litter box for many years (!!!!) I was sick for two weeks afterwards and I'm not even allergic to cats.

OTOH when I sold the previous house, of 1972 vintage, which was home to 3 dogs, one of which had had some incontinence problems, and 2 cats and a smoker, I had the carpets professionally cleaned and then cleaned them myself with a steam extractor thing. When the buyer arrived he crawled all around with his nose in the carpet before pronouncing it ok for his baby. Then he replaced it all anyway.

So make of that what you will. (I'd ditch the carpet. If the house is old you probably have some kind of decent wood flooring under it.)


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

The cat hair will probably have collected in any place that isn't easily accessible for cleaning -- it will get caught up in cobwebs, under and behind things, and particularly around electrical units that have a static charge and attract the fur!

From what I've read, your mother won't necessarily be allergic to all cats. It's supposedly the saliva of cats that causes dander, and people who are allergic only react to some cats' saliva.

But not all cat hair is the same either! We adopted 4 cats from the local Humane Society. One is all white and her fur is the lightest/finest I've ever seen on a cat and she sheds CONSTANTLY! The other day I decided to clean one of the laptop computers.... I started to vacuum the keyboard and couldn't believe how much of her wispy light fur was trapped under the keyboard! and it was ONLY her fur under it! I cannot say why, but she always smells like a garage floor to me. LOL! Maybe she lived in your house before they took her to the shelter. :O)


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

I am extremely allergic to cats, birds, and dogs. One touch or a few indoor breaths and I'm in medically measurable distress. That's why I had to give up being a real estate broker and home renovator. Let alone walk out of banks, stores, offices and public transit when some thoughtless pet owner waltzes in with their furry or feathery companion.

When the allergies hit me badly, I moved out of my newly built home and spent the days in my garage and the health club and slept in my truck camper for a month while the home was cleaned, all carpeting and fabric covered furniture removed, and new hardwood installed.

Yet I've been comfortably in homes and apartments that I have rented out to pet owners--AFTER having others remove all carpeting, do a thorough cleaning top to bottom with damp cloths frequently rinsed and a repainting. Vacuuming is only a first step, as the dander goes right through the machine and back into the air.

If you love your mother, take all the steps other posters have recommended. No shortcuts!


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

Wow. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Thank you for all of the helpful comments and ideas. I wanted to think through this thoroughly, and you've all definitely helped.

And Party Music, maybe so! I've been finding all colors of cat hair, which makes me think there were plenty of the little guys.


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

I third or fourth the carpet removal motion. If Mom is that sensitive to allergens due to dander and would like her to visit you can not afford not to remove carpeting and not replace with same.

Worthy, sorry to hear that allergies are life altering for you. I have an associate in Detroit that lost his young nephew on a in home sales call due to succumbing to the affects of dander in the home of a client. A sad day for all and proves that this situation could be deadly. Part of our practice was changed when booking sales call for our guys and gals and we had all checked for allergies after hiring. Some individuals don't realize they have allergies at a young age.


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

succumbing to the affects of dander in the home of a client

Yes, an asthmatic attack can be deadly. It's not just "itchy eyes".

BTW, I had cats and dogs for my first thirty-five years and resisted placing the last of them with a friend till the distress was unbearable. I'd stay outside till it was time for bed, then knock myself out with allergy pills to get through the night.


 o
RE: Ahhh! Cats!

We use the HealthMate Jr by Austin, and have found it to be the best air purifier (filter) for pet dander. We have 2 cats and allergic in-laws, and if we run the thing for a day or so before they arrive, they don't experience much distress, if any at all. It's not cheap (a few hundred $$) and the filters are also spendy, but one HEPA filter lasts a few years with normal use and it's been a godsend.

And make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter, or invest in a new one that does, if you possibly can. The difference is palpable even for someone who is not allergic. We swear by our Miele canister.

Other places to hunt for the evil hair from our furry friends:
Any rough surfaces, like a brick wall or fireplace front.
Ceilings at the crown molding or between the picture rail and ceiling.
Unscrew electrical outlet and light switch plates, and vacuum out the boxes.
Underneath sofa cushions.
The small ledge of the top door frame trim.
Corners of window sills behind drapes.
Remove forced air register grids & vacuum there also, the duct ends where they are seated are often a major lurking place for dust and hair.
If you have castiron hot water/steam registers, get a long narrow flexible car-detailing attachment for your vacuum and go to town on those puppies; they can harbor astonishing amounts of random hair and grit of all sorts.

Good luck!


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Old House Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here