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.

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.

Spring cleaning the natural way

If you scour the internet, you’ll find all sorts of creative natural cleaners that you can DIY with stuff you already have at home.

Not only are natural, homemade cleaners an affordable way to an effective yet safe and environmentally friendly clean, it’s also good for your security deposit. Some heavy duty cleaners out there are so harsh that they damage the very thing you’re trying to get clean, and you might not want to clean as thoroughly or as often if it involves a risk of inhaling dangerous fumes. With a natural, homemade cleaner, you’re unlikely to need protective gear and you don’t have to worry about using it around kids or pets. Plus, mixtures like baking soda and vinegar pack a punch without damaging surfaces.

natural cleaning
Bathrooms can be hard to keep clean, but natural cleaners can make the work safer and more affordable.

If you’re looking for smart uses for vinegar, vinegartips.com is our favorite place for pointers on one of the cheapest, most versatile natural cleaners out there.

Keep in mind though that vinegar isn’t the end-all-be-all, and it’s not always the best cleaner for the job. For example, vinegar is ineffective for wiping up raw egg as it will basically poach the egg as you’re trying to clean it up. Before you decide what product to use, consider the task at hand and what you want to accomplish. If you’re not sure what to use, check online for tips.

Most of the time, vinegar is the way to go for deodorizing and wiping away greasy grime. It’s excellent for wet dusting and getting your microwave to sparkle. For a deeper clean, combining it with baking soda for a fizzy paste does the trick. This method works wonderfully on stained coffee mugs. With any vinegar solution, giving it time to sit and do its work is key.

Here are some tips and recommendations we’ve offered in the past:

Spring cleaning to protect your security deposit

Cleaning tips for your acrylic bathtub

Battling mildew

Battling mildew

Mildew is gross, and it can building lots of places, especially in bathrooms. Here are some tips for keeping at bay—and cleaning it up when it appears.

cleaning mildew
Bathrooms can be hard to keep clean, and mildew is one of the main reasons. So ventilate, clean regularly, and attack mildew before it overwhelms your bathroom.
  1. Ventilate your bathroom. If you don’t have a ventilation fan in your bathroom, you surely have a window, so use it. As long as it’s warm enough out that your heat is off, and as long as it’s not raining, open your bathroom window. This is most important right after showering. To create a cross breeze, it’s a good idea to also leave your bathroom door open. If you prefer them closed, shut them again once the room is aired out.
  2. Wipe down your tub/shower after using it. Wiping away excess water with a squeegee or rag keeps mildew out of grout. Bonus: it also prevents soap scum buildup and stains.
  3. Clean it up right away. If you see mildew starting to form, clean it up as quickly as you can. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. No matter the cleaning method you use, make sure the room is well ventilated and wear rubber gloves while you work. You’ve probably heard of using bleach on mildew, but there are safer cleaners that don’t produce toxic fumes. Vinegar and undiluted hydrogen peroxide are two of the safest cleaning methods, and they work on a wide variety of surfaces. Mixing borax with warm water makes a safe, effective cleaner not only for mildew, but mold as well. The two-step process of baking soda and vinegar also works on both mold and mildew. First, spray a mixture of baking soda and water onto the affected surface, then spray vinegar on top of it. After the fizzing of the chemical reaction slows, wipe everything clean.

Just like keeping your bathtub clean, prevention is key when it comes to fighting mildew. So ventilate and wipe, and clean when you need to.

Related Posts:

Spring cleaning to protect your security deposit

How to get your full security deposit back

Moving? Here are 10 tips for a smooth transition

Moving is a hassle, yes, but if you’re organized and plan ahead, you’ll save yourself plenty of headaches. Here are 10 tips for a successful, less stressful move.

  1. Measure twice, move once. Not only should you know the dimensions of the rooms in your new place, you should know the size of the doorways and hallways that you’ll have to maneuver furniture through. Plus, you’ll need to know the dimensions of your furniture.

    moving tips
    A couch like this one might not come apart, but IKEA furniture (like the tables and chair pictured here) is designed for simple assembly–and dis-assembly.
  2. Make check lists and use them. Go through your old place room by room and list all the items you need to pack up and move. Check off items as you move them onto the moving van, and check them off again as you unload them at your new place. This way, nothing will get lost or left behind.
  3. Label your boxes. This might strike you as a no-brainer, but it’s such a quick, simple step that it might easily slip your mind. Unpacking in your new place really will be much easier if you know what each box contains without having to look inside.
  4. If it comes apart, take it apart. It might seem easier to move with intact furniture, but it’s actually much simpler to break down everything into manageable pieces. Pull the drawers out of dressers (you could leave items in removed drawers in lieu of boxes) to lighten the load. Take apart your sectional and reassemble it in its new home. Unscrew the legs from you dining room table for flatter transport and an easier time fitting it, piece by piece, into the allotted space.
  5. Wrap it up. This might sound goofy, but cellophane is your friend when it comes time for moving. If you already have all your silverware inside a drawer organizer, all you have to do is wrap that in cellophane and it’s ready to move. Remember those drawers you pulled out of your dresser? Wrap them in cellophane to secure the items inside, no boxes needed! Buy the cheap stuff and wrap up your whole mattress and box-spring to protect them during the move and make it easy to slide them across carpeted floors.
  6. Clean your trash cans and use them for storage. You can even nest a small bathroom can inside your bigger kitchen can and then store stuff inside. Suddenly, you have a box or two fewer to lug from place to place.
  7. Use your Tetris skills and leave no space unused inside boxes or inside the moving van.
  8. Know where you can park. If you have a large moving truck, make sure you know the neighborhood’s rules and the borough’s ordinances about where you’re allowed to park it and for how long. The last thing you want is your truck full of all your possessions getting towed. Your present and future landlords are likely in the know about this stuff, so ask them where you can pull up as you vacate and later as you move in.
  9. Take pictures. After you’ve vacated your old place, take pictures of everything as evidence that you cleaned up and took everything with you. It’s a good way to go through one last time and make sure you didn’t forget anything. Before you start moving into your new place, take pictures of everything exactly how you find it. The pictures of your old and new places will be important when it comes time to get your security deposit back. Once you’re done moving in, take pictures of everything in its place to keep on record in case you need it for insurance purposes. If you decide to feng shui later, take more pictures. While you’re at it, take some pictures for your scrapbook to preserve the memories.
  10. Remember how you handled the move. There’s a fair chance that you’ll be moving again in the future, so after the move is complete, sit down and think about what went well and what could have gone better. It’s probably a good idea to write this reflection down for future reference. At the very least, you should recall the size moving van you rented, how you got everything into the apartment, and how you got it all to fit in said moving van. You’ve already solved the puzzle once, so save your future self the headache of having to do it all over again.

Do you have your own moving tips? Share them in the comments below.

Related Posts:

How to get your full security deposit back

How to clean your acrylic bathtub (and save your security deposit)

How to keep your cat from costing you your security deposit

Spring cleaning tips: good for your security deposit

How to decorate a 2 bedroom

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.

How to keep your cat from costing you your security deposit

A pet is a wonderful thing…. except for when they’re hyper and out of control. If you live in an apartment with a misbehaving cat (or two), you stand a risk of not getting your full security deposit back. To help you out, here are some tips for keeping your cat happy, healthy, and well behaved.

Maintaining the Litter Box: The Cornerstone of Saving your Carpet

No, you don’t have to take a cat outside to go potty, but you do have to maintain the litter box(es), and if you get a kitten, you have to teach it how to use the box. A dirty litter box could lead your cat to pick the carpet as its potty instead, so scoop daily and change litter weekly. A mixture of boiling water and vinegar is a cheap method for cleaning the box, just make sure you scrub all the nooks and crannies and let the mixture sit long enough to do its job. If your box is clean but your cat refuses to use it, it could mean the cat is sick and needs a visit to the vet. Nipping health issues in the bud is cheaper than paying to replace the carpet in your apartment. Sometimes, healthy cats are picky, or have behavioral problems. It’s still cheaper to try every kind of litter on the market, maintain multiple boxes, and replace kitten-sized boxes as your cat grows than to gamble on your security deposit. Finally, if you have multiple cats, you need multiple boxes: at least 1 box per cat.

goofy cat
Your cat might be a high energy goofball, but if you do your part as pet owner, you can make sure she doesn’t cost you your security deposit.

Keep Houseplants Safe from Felines

Vinegar is a powerful and versatile cleaning agent (you can even use it on carpets and upholstery), but its other super power is that cats hate the smell of it. Spraying vinegar on houseplants will keep cats from eating them. Also, don’t keep houseplants that are potentially toxic to felines. After all, eating something they shouldn’t can make cats vomit, and you don’t want that mess on your carpet. You can also distract your kitty from the plants it shouldn’t eat by giving it access to cat grass on another shelf. Find a way to secure potted plants and other objects so your cat doesn’t accidentally (or intentionally) knock them over. The fewer breakables and other knickknacks, the better (and the easier it is to dust).

How to Handle Scratching

First things first, never declaw a cat. Here’s why: declawing is equivalent to removing a human’s fingertip down to the first knuckle of each finger, cats naturally walk on tip-toes so when you remove the tips of their toes they walk differently and develop arthritis much more easily, and they can be in such excruciating pain that they stop using their litter boxes because it hurts too much to dig. Treating all the health issues related to declawing will empty your wallet much faster than humane methods of deterring scratching.

Obviously you need to provide your cat with a scratching post. A kitten needs to be taught to use it, and once they know how, you’ll find they routinely use it. Keeping a variety of posts—traditional vertical posts wrapped in twine, horizontal pads with refillable cardboard, soft wood, and variously angled posts and pads with all kinds of materials—will keep things as interesting as scratching trees and bushes in the great outdoors.

Sometimes even regular use of a scratching post can’t keep your cat’s claws short, and scratching can cause a lot of damage to your apartment and belongings. Claw trimmers come in a variety of styles and price ranges, and getting your cat used to this process early will make it an ordinary part of your routine. If you’re not comfortable trimming claws at home, ask your vet to do it or take your cat to a groomer.

If your cat insists on scratching your upholstery, you can give it the same vinegar spray treatment as your plants. You might also consider a pheromone plug-in as a last resort (they’re a bit expensive).

Groom, Groom, and Groom Some More

It’s certainly true that cats keep themselves quite clean with regular personal grooming sessions, but shedding + personal grooming = hairballs. The best way to prevent the hacking up of hairballs—and an excellent way to spend quality time with your pet—is to brush kitty regularly, daily if possible.

Get Kitty Some Exercise

Cats need exercise for their bodies as well as their brains. Use an interactive toy for 15-20 minutes of play each day during the times you find your cat is most active. To keep your cat busy while you’re out or asleep, have some toys for individual play laying around. Puzzle toys are especially stimulating and easy to make at home:

Cut some paw-sized holes into an empty box or or oatmeal container, stick a crinkle ball inside, tape the lid shut, and let kitty go at it.

Or: Cut some kibble-sized holes into a water bottle, fill it with a handful of dry food or a few treats, screw the cap back on, and see how long it takes kitty to get the goodies out.

Giving your cat vertical space to explore in the form of cat trees will offer more benefits than just mental and physical exercise. Cats like having a good vantage point from which to watch over their territory, and having that high outlook post will give your king of the apartment jungle added confidence and contentment. Also be sure your cat has a comfortable view out as many windows as possible with either store-bought or home-made shelves, if necessary.

 Looking for a cat-friendly apartment in the South Hills of Pittsburgh? Contact Alvern Gardens Apartments at alverngardens@yahoo.com or 412-561-4663.