How to Safely Disinfect Around Cats

Keep Kitty away from cleaning products.
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Cleaning and disinfecting a home can be tough when you have curious kitty paws stepping on everything. To be safe, put Fluffy in a different room and open all windows to help with ventilation -- you certainly don't want your cat around strong disinfectants that could be toxic.

Start with Common Cleaners

If you're cleaning common bacteria -- rather than tough viruses spread by sick animals -- you might want to try something green. White vinegar and lemon juice won't kill tough bacteria, but they're good for cleaning buildup and tarnish. To truly disinfect, you can try tea tree oil or lavender essential oil. Simply add a few drops to room-temperature water and use it to clean. Other products, such as bleach, are not as green but are low in toxicity and can be used to clear surfaces of bacteria and some viruses. When using bleach, remember that fumes can be irritating, so open windows and don't use near Kitty's sleeping area -- unless you move him to a new location beforehand.

Use Pet-Safe Products

Your best bet to clean your home and keep Kitty healthy and safe is to use products that have been confirmed as pet-safe. For example, products containing potassium peroxymonosulfate have low toxicity but are effective in killing a number of viruses. The ingredient chlorhexidine is even lower in toxicity and kills a number of viruses and bacteria.

Keep Kitty Away

Cats are compulsive lickers, so it's important that you keep them away from the cleaning area. For example, if you're washing floors using a disinfectant, close the door until the floors are completely dry. You don't want Fluffy walking on the wet surface and then licking his paws and accidentally swallowing the chemicals -- which even the safest products contain. The same rule applies if you're disinfecting counter tops or floors.

Don't Overdo It

If you just need to clean a small area, don't overuse disinfectants. For example, you could clean small counter space using disinfecting wipes, rather than getting the whole area wet and then having to lock away Kitty until it dries. Also, unless you have reason to suspect a serious bacterial or virus problem, you don't need to disinfect things every day or even every week. In most cases, you can use soap or detergent to clean things and then once in a while use a disinfectant.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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