How to introduce a second cat into your home

We came across this article on adopting a second cat quite some time ago, and with some of our residents here at Alvern Gardens going through the pet adoption process, we thought we’d talk about this adventure.

Adopting animals together is probably the least stressful option for creating a multi pet home. In fact, there are plenty of pets in shelters that must be adopted as a pair because they are bonded to each other and can’t be separated. If, however, you already have a pet and would like to adopt a second (with your landlord’s permission, of course), then there are was to do it right.

goofy cat
if your cat is a high energy goofball, finding her a companion might be just the thing to burn off all that excess energy.

As the above linked article explains, you need to find a cat with a similar activity level and compatible personality traits to your cat. Once you have found a candidate, it’s a good idea to give it a trial run, which is something that, as the article states, many shelters offer. It’s never a good idea to commit to a pet from the outset, because you just never know how and whether it’ll truly work out. About a week or two is usually what it takes for a cat (or two) to establish a routine, so it should become apparent fairly soon whether the pairing is a good one.

The article points out that you need to have enough space in your home for the cats to get away from each other and enjoy some solitude. A home with multiple floors offers ideal levels of separation, but it can be managed in an apartment as well. Although a one bedroom might be a bit small, a two bedroom has potential as a wide enough territory to have a scattering of multiple litter boxes, water bowls, feeding stations, and hangout areas.

What the article doesn’t specify about having enough space is that the space also needs to be cat friendly. It’s not fair to confine one cat to a dark, windowless basement while the other cat shares the upstairs living space with the family. You also need to have at least one litter box per cat, plus one extra, so for two cats, you should have three litter boxes. These should be spread throughout your home rather than lined up side-by-side, and they should be far away from food stations (cats, like humans, don’t like to do their business in the same spot as where they eat). Speaking of food stations, each of your cats should have their own spots to eat and drink, at least until they get used to each other.

Cats mark their territory in several ways: urine spraying, cheek marking (which is what they’re doing when they rub their faces against things), and scratching. To protect your furniture from the dreaded scratching, place different types of scratching posts throughout your home, ideally one in every room. Feliway pheromone sprays and diffusers can help with scratching as well as urine marking, so stock up before bringing home your second cat.

Finally, multiple cats need multiple hangout spots, and vertical space is one of the best places to expand feline territory. You probably already have one cat tree and/or cat bed, so buy a second set for the second cat. When cats aren’t fighting for the window seat or otherwise eking out a spot to make their own in limited space, they’ll get along much better from the start. And happier cats make for happier cat owners.

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Shelf liners: good for your security deposit

We’ve been seeing some nifty ideas online for affordable shelf liners that make for easy clean-up. Of course, we look at these ideas and think they’re perfect for renters who want an easier time cleaning their rental when it comes time to move out. Here are some of our own tips when it comes to shelf liners:

  • Not just for cabinets, shelf liners are also an excellent idea for your fridge and freezer. We’ve read plenty of online tips suggesting plastic wrap as an excellent liner for fridge shelves. If something spills, you just peel away the soiled plastic wrap and replace it. Now, we imagine that’s a lot messier in practice than it is on paper, but it’s worth a try.
  • Not just for the kitchen: consider lining the shelves of your medicine cabinet and bathroom vanity as well. Do you have shelves in closets or buildt-ins? Line those too!
  • Wax paper is good for lots of things, and with a little double-sided tape, you can use it to line your drawers and cabinets on the cheap.
  • Aluminum foil would be ideal for completely wrapping up a removable shelf. Slide the shelf out of your fridge or cabinet, wrap it up, securing edges with tape if necessary, then slide it back into place.
  • Shelf liners as drip guards. Do you have a fridge with metal grate shelving instead of solid plastic? If you’ve ever spilled something on the top shelf of one of those, you know what a pain it is to empty and clean the whole fridge from top to bottom (though you should do that regularly anyway… not just when your roommate’s flavored coffee creamer takes a tumble and coats everything in a sticky pumpkin spice film). If you wrap the grate shelves, it’ll keep stuff from spilling through to lower levels of the fridge.

You might be wondering how a shelf liner is good for your security deposit. It’s pretty simple, really. When you move out of your apartment, you’ll significantly cut your cleaning time if all you have to do is remove your shelf liners to reveal squeaky clean surfaces beneath.

Get organized: tips for your home filing cabinet

Even though the modern world is moving more and more to digital spaces, we still have a lot of paperwork to keep track of. Especially if you’re a renter, there are a few very important documents that you need to store in a safe place. So this week, we’re offering a few tips for getting—and staying—organized.

First of all, you’ll need a filing cabinet or a file drawer inside a desk. If you’re tight on space and don’t have many documents to organize and store, consider picking up a filing box. There are a variety of styles of varying size, portability, and durability, so pick what’s right for your needs. An office supply store will have the biggest selection, but places like Walmart and Target have what you need as well. While you’re at the store, you’ll need to buy some hanging folders and file folders to fill your new box. You can go as colorful and decorative as you want, and sometimes color-coding can be a fun, simple way to further organize your papers. Ideally, you’ll want to get a box and folders that fit legal size paper so you don’t have to fold and cram to make stuff fit.

Once you’ve brought home all your supplies, it’s time to categorize your papers and label your folders. How you choose to organize the individual folders is up to you, but alphabetizing or placing things in order of importance are the two simplest ways to do it.

For example, you might label your first hanging folder “Home” and fill it with file folders that contain your lease, records of rent and utility payments, your renters’ insurance policy, pictures you’ve taken of your apartment pre-move-in as well as all your personal belongings, and any correspondences from your landlord.

Your next folder might be for your kids’ documents (birth certificates, passports, school and medical records, etc.).

If you’re a renter and pet owner, it’s also important to keep your pet’s records organized. For example, if you have any additional paperwork with your landlord permitting your pet in the rented property, you’ll want to save that either with your lease or with your pet’s vet records (or make a copy and save it in both places to be extra thorough).

The rest of the things you should file away are either pretty obvious (work papers, financial records, etc.) or unusual. By unusual we mean the instructions and manuals that come with electronics, appliances, and furniture. Why file these things? Because when you move, you’ll want to have the instructions handy for dis-assembly and reassembly of bulky furniture. Just think: you brought that entertainment center into the apartment in pieces, and if it won’t fit through the door fully assembled, you’ll kick yourself if you’ve lost the instructions in the shuffle.

Any papers that seem even a little bit important should be filed away for safekeeping. When spring cleaning time comes around, you can go back through your files and get rid of anything you definitely don’t need anymore. Just remember to shred documents that contain personal information before recycling them.

Know the rules, don’t get burned

When you rent an apartment, you enter into a contract with your landlord, so it’s important that you understand all the terms and conditions of that contract.

Your landlord or an agent of your landlord will likely go over your lease with you at the time of your signing or have you read it before you sign. This is the best time to ask for clarification if there’s anything you’re not sure about. But this should not be the last time you ever look at your lease.

security deposit, lease
Knowing the ins and outs of your lease is key to saving you money and aggravation if any issues should arise.

You will receive a copy of your lease that, of course, you should keep on file in a safe place. When you first receive that copy, you should look it over and refresh yourself on the important points:

  • The amount of your rent, when it’s due, and how you are to pay and where you should send/bring it
  • Late fees, fees for bad checks, and other charges you could incur
  • What utilities are included in rent and what you need to pay yourself
  • The duration of the lease, especially the exact end date
  • Rules about renewing your lease and when you can expect to receive a renewal notice
  • Rules about ending your lease early in the event of a job transfer or other situation
  • Parking regulations
  • How to report maintenance issues and other concerns
  • What, if anything, your are responsible for by way of repairs (most commonly, renters are responsible for changing light bulbs and batteries in smoke detectors)
  • Your landlord’s contact information
  • Your exact address
  • Stipulations regarding your security deposit (when will it be returned, and what do you have to do when you move out to ensure its return)

Yes, some of these points are basic, but you’d be surprised what can slip your mind amidst the chaos of moving. Plus, if you give everything a second look right away, you’ll be more likely to remember it later on when things like renewing your lease become a more immediate concern. When you come across phone numbers for maintenance and your landlord’s office, save them in your phone and also write them down in an address book or save them in some other secondary location.

If you have a question for your landlord about something, take a moment to pull your lease out of its safe spot and see if anything written in it answers your question. If not, call your landlord and ask. If you’re even the least bit unsure about what your lease states about a certain issue, such as under what conditions you would be allowed to end the lease early, call your landlord for clarification and write yourself a note to attach to the lease for future reference. When you’re done, remember to put the lease back in its safe spot.

Knowing your lease is the key to having a good experience renting, so if it’s been a while since you looked at yours and you’re fuzzy on the terms, pull it out and give it a read.

Preventive treatments against mold

We’ve posted a lot in the past about natural ways to keep your home clean, and we just came across this article on natural mold treatment and prevention methods. As it warms up (and gets more humid) here in the Pittsburgh area, we’d like to highlight a few of these preventive measures.

natural cleaning
These natural mold prevention methods will help you keep your bathroom (and the rest of your home) mold free.

The most important thing to remember about mold is that it thrives in moist environments, so keeping your home dry and ventilated is key. Opening windows when it’s nice out, drying the shower with a rag or squeegee after each use, and keeping your shower curtain closed to let it dry are simple steps to make habitual. In basements, crawl spaces, or other areas without proper ventilation, a dehumidifier might be in order. But there are other factors to keep in mind as well.

If you have a ventilation fan in your bathroom, kitchen, or elsewhere in your home, it’s important to clean it regularly. A clean fan is a functional fan. The same goes for air conditioners and heating/cooling ducts. If you rent your home, familiarize yourself with your lease and know who (you or your landlord) is responsible for maintaining whatever heating/cooling system you have.

An air purifier can calm your concerns about airborne mold spores. While some models are pricier than others, a little research will help you find the right unit for your space. They’re great for allergy sufferers and most don’t require much electricity to run. They can even help deodorize your home when it’s too cold out to open a window.

Now, we’ve already told you about how great vinegar can be for cleaning mold, but did you know it can help prevent mold as well? It can! Just spray it onto susceptible areas such as the grout around your bathtub, your bathroom ceiling, particularly moist corners of your basement, wherever, and let it dry. You’ll just have to deal with the smell for a little while, but that will fade. If the smell is too much, try diluted citrus seed extract instead. Whichever method you choose, you’ll need to reapply regularly. Luckily both of these preventive substances are natural and nontoxic.

If you find that you have a persistent problem area resistant to your every attack, it’s time to contact your landlord, or if you’re a homeowner, a mold specialist.

Related Posts:

Battling Mildew

How to clean your acrylic bathtub

Spring cleaning the natural way

Spring cleaning to protect your security deposit

How to keep your acrylic bathtub sparkling (and protect your security deposit)

We’ve posted in the past about security deposits, spring cleaning, and other tips for renters. This week, we’re going hyper focused: how to maintain an acrylic bathtub. Why? Because a lot of tubs are acrylic now, and keeping acrylic clean requires slightly different methods from porcelain or enamel. Plus, the return of a renter’s full security deposit depends largely on how clean the rental is after they vacate it, and the bathroom (along with the kitchen) is one of the places renters tend to lose most of their security deposit.

bathtub cleaning
Bathtubs can be hard to keep clean, but giving your acrylic weekly attention will make your move-out process much easier.

Our main point is prevention: the cleaner you keep your tub for the duration of your lease, the easier it will be to get it downright squeaky upon move-out. This is especially important if your tub is acrylic, a porous material that stains more easily than others but also requires gentler cleaning methods.

Tub Maintenance

Deposits from hard water and soap scum are the main culprits of tub stains. To prevent these from building up, rinse your tub with warm water after each use and have a squeegee or rag handy for wiping it dry. Bonus: this keeps grout clean and mold free, too.

Weekly cleanings are paramount to protecting your acrylic tub, but you don’t need heavy duty products. You could use dish soap, a mixture of vinegar and water, or even shampoo. Don’t use abrasive scrubbing pads, as this will scratch the acrylic. A plain old sponge will do just fine for regular cleanings. The final step of your weekly clean should always be a rinse with warm water followed by a wipe down with a rag or squeegee.

Be sure to include your tub surround—be it tile or acrylic—with all of the above maintenance measures.

For the Tough Stains

Comet, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, OxyClean, Scrubbing Bubbles, Lime-A-Way, CLR Cleaner, and the list of products goes on. Sure, these work great. But you know what else works? Vinegar, baking soda, borax, hydrogen peroxide, cream of tartar. Whether you’re making a paste from Comet powder or baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, consistency and duration are key. Paste should be thick enough to stay put on a stain for an hour or more. Another method is to soak a clean white cloth in vinegar and lay it on top of the stain. You could also fill the tub with a mixture of hot water and vinegar until the stain is submerged, let it sit for several hours, then drain and scrub the tub.

A quick Google search will bring up all sorts of odd methods: dissolve laundry detergent powder, dishwasher detergent, or even denture cleaner in your tub filled with hot water. Scrub rust stains with toilet bowl cleaner. The lesson: think outside the box.

When it comes to soaking away stains, be patient. Find something else to do for the hour or more that the cleaner needs to soak. If the stain is still there, repeat the process. Make sure to follow the directions to the letter and soak for the maximum length suggested. If you have to re-soak, soak it longer the second time.

Once your stain has soaked and you’re ready to apply elbow grease, use a soft sponge, nothing abrasive.

When You Move Out

So you’ve been maintaining your tub meticulously for the duration of your lease, and now you’re moving. You take the time to clean everything thoroughly, including your tub. How do you make sure you’ve done everything right? How do you protect yourself? First, consult any pictures you may (should) have taken of the vacant apartment when you first signed the lease. Compare the picture of the tub before you started using it to the picture of how it is now. Do they look the same? Perfect! You’re all set to turn in your keys. If your tub has stains that weren’t there when you moved in, take a little more time to get rid of them. If you notice them, you can bet your landlord will too and take the cost of cleaning out of your security deposit.

Once you’re confident that everything is how it was when you first moved in, take pictures of everything all over again. These will serve as evidence in the event that you have a dispute over the return of your deposit. If, however, you’ve followed all your landlord’s instructions and left everything as clean as how you found it, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Healthy pet, happy home: flea treatment

Even if your pet never sets paw outdoors, it’s important to keep flea and tick medication up to date, just in case.

Why?

keeping flea and tick medication up to date
Keeping flea and tick medication up to date is especially important in a multi-pet home.
  1. No matter how vigilant you are, your pet could get out. If they get out, you’ll be relieved that at least they’re micro chipped, vaccinated, wearing their tags, and safe from flea and tick bites while you search the neighborhood.
  2. Fleas can hitch a ride on clothing, so if you visit a friend with pets, or a friend with pets visits you, your pets could get their fleas.
  3. A tick bite can transmit Lyme disease to you or your pet and requires antibiotics for treatment.
  4. Fleas can cause an allergic reaction that will lead to giving it a whole lot of money for allergy medicine, special shampoo, numerous trips to the vet, even steroid shots.
  5. Preventing fleas is a whole lot cheaper and easier than getting rid of an infestation. If you rent, your lease might entitle you to free extermination, but that might not apply to a flea infestation if you have a pet. If you own your home, you’re guaranteed a high bill from the exterminator, because fleas can lay their eggs in carpet.

Besides, for you renters out there, if you read the fine—or not so fine—print regarding pets kept in your rental, you might find that your landlord requires your pet’s flea and tick medication to be up to date.

Consider also that in a multi-pet home, your cat stay indoors, but your dog goes out. Both of them need to be treated to prevent fleas and ticks, not just your dog, because the fleas could hitch a ride on you or your dog and make themselves at home on your untreated cat.

While high quality flea and tick medication is expensive, you get what you pay for. Cheaper products often don’t last as long, and many off brands have gotten in trouble for causing epileptic seizures. So buy what your vet recommends, but shop around for a good price. 1-800 Pet Meds often has coupons, and many specialty pet stores such as Pet Supplies Plus and Petco sell the good stuff over the counter.

Looking for a pet friendly apartment? Contact Alvern Gardens Apartments at 412-561-4663 or alverngardens@yahoo.com for their current availability.