Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sorry Sweetie, was that your tail 2..?

To the soundtrack of Britney Spears "Oops I did it again...". This time it was Magic's tail I stood on and this time someone did get hurt, temporarily. I was tidying the worktops and making breakfast, cinnamon buns and coffee if you were interested, when I stepped back on her little pencil thin tail. Well, she let out a scream, and so did I as I got a fright too. I chased after her, and so did Red as he seemed quite concerned too, I checked her tail and apart from the pain of me standing on it no lasting harm seemed to be done. No hair loss was noticed either and she very graciously let me apologise profusely.

I think the problem is that the cats see themselves as an immovable object. If you are coming out of a room and they are sitting or lying there then it is up to you to work out how you will step over them. The kitchen is a particular issue as they sit down right behind you, contented just to be near you, but you are unaware they are there...then you step back and realise you've stood on one of their tails. I've no idea of how to persuade them not to do this. If the weight of me landing on their sensitive tails or ripping out a huge chunk of fur is no deterent then I can't imagine what would be.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Just Magic

Because Magic is so dark she can be difficult to snap. Red takes a great picture because of his light fur and I can capture his good looks. With Magic I feel she often suffers by comparison as her pictures are often too dark to show the meltingly sweet way she looks. These are probably the best I have.

Spidey sense

Late one night I saw BOTH cats playing with something and being a bit furtive. Never good and always worth investigating. They had found a second jumbo spider and were batting it off the skirting board. One had appeared some months ago and I had to retrieve it from Red's mouth before flattening it. I dont like killing spiders but I didnt have much choice as I had nothing humane to catch it with and it looked like a biter.

I chased the cats and got a tumbler to capture it with. I photographed it then attempted to put it on the window ledge to let it go. Unfortunately, I was a bit overzealous and lobbed it over the window ledge to fall some floors to the ground, not exactly good for him or my karmic account. It was a bad night for him all round as my colleague pointed out as he only had 7 legs when I rescued him!

Fur heavens sake

Fur, or the shedding of it, has been a bit of a theme in my posts recently so I'll keep going. Following some recent vet visits which will be a post all of its own it would be fair to say that I've been losing the furry carpet war. I am becoming demented trying to keep the place sanitary never mind clean, between the shed fur and frequent vomits. Red vomits furballs and Magic vomits for multiple reasons - she ate too fast, she ate too much, she was stressed, she is trying to communicate she isn't happy that I've gone out to work... you name it, there is no occasion too small for a vomit. The vomits and their general messy eating means I am often to be found on my hands and knees attacking the carpet with vanish, baby wipes and a spray bottle of water with lavender.

I decided this weekend to hand shampoo the bedroom carpet. Really what needed cleaned was the cream (utterly manky) hall carpet but that was too big a job so I thought I'd practice on the bedroom carpet. It came up lovely but was time consuming, difficult to clean without soaking the carpet and also a little dangerous as I managed to splash the vanish solution into my eye. I also had to resort to steam vacuuming it and using a fan heater as it refused to dry and I fancied going to bed before dawn. Anyway, I decided life was too short to continue round the house in this fashion especially given the enormity of the hall job and looked online for a reasonably priced carpet cleaner. I found one and am eagerly awaiting it. At the same time I was also seduced by a new vacuum from the same company which, from the independent reviews, does appear to actually deal with pet hair, so I look forward to it arriving too.

Anyway, this got me thinking. I am no domestic goddess as any one who knows me will attest. However, I have managed to go through a spectacular amount of vacuums in a relatively short time. Some were bought for specialised features but the everyday vac has never survived particularly long. This the the roll call:

The Dyson upright- one of the most useless items I've ever purchased. I'm sure it was one of the early dodgy ones as I've never seen anything with a HEPA filtration system cough 'stoor' into the air before making a noisy and thoroughly ineffectual tour of the carpets. This was the other human's pride and joy and neither logic or pointing out its uselessness had any effect. I then purchased the Dirt Devil as a conflict resolution tool. Eventually after the Dirt Devil failed, I asserted territorial rights and demanded that if I was the only one regularly vacuuming then I got to choose the tool for the job. The other human's compromise was to insist it must be an upright which I conceeded. The Samsung arrived.

The Dirt Devil cylinder - this was purchased to do the 'tight corners' the Dyson couldnt get into and came with a free hand held cordless. The Dirt Devil was the only reliable source of vaccuming but it inevitably 'bit the dust'. It was survived by the Dyson but only because it refused to pick anything up.

The Samsung upright - my pride and joy. I was certain I could hear the downstairs neighbours falling off their ceiling when I turned it off as the suction was so great. Our old sad carpets had never looked so good and we discovered the long lost experience of walking on pile! This was a great machine as apart from being effective it was a doddle to take to pieces and clear or repair.

The Dirt Devil upright - I became the heir to this. It was absolutely split new and I used to alternate it with the Samsung.

The Polti steam vac - This was a very considered purchase as it seemed that it could do a number of jobs and most importantly simultaneously steam clean and vacuum. The vacuum filter was through water which I think is fab for trapping dust from going back into the atmosphere. I still have it but it is a big bulky machine and is a pain to clean at the end of each use. Initially I didnt realise that if you didnt wash out the hoses then the vacuum dust, which was damp from the steam, would cling to the inside of the hose. This meant that on the third use there was a distinct smell of rotting corpse! So, as well as emptying the steam boiler, the water chamber and filter parts you also need to do the hoses and tubes everytime.

While the last three were in use we had a carer who was allegedy supposed to be doing the vacuuming as part of her role to assist with the household load. I say 'allegedly' as it was impossible to see any difference. She had been distinctly offended when I showed her how to work the Samsung when it was new and then the Dirt Devil as she knew all about vacuums. However, she suffered some delusions, namely that the dirt collector cannisters were self emptying, that the crevice tool and the floor cleaning part work together and that a working vacuum doesnt pick things up. Therefore, eventually when I could stand it no more I looked at the state of the carpets in despair and tried to set to cleaning them only to realise that both the Samsung and the Dirt Devil were irretrievably broken. Yes, the homecare expert with her professional knowledge had killed both of them at some unknown point and not even noticed. The only reason the big Polti wasnt murdered was because I had kept it out of her road. Just after this the Social Work dept 'rationalised' their services and decided they were withdrawing housework as one of their services. So vive le nouveau vacuum.

The Vax all singing, all dancing, anniversary verson, pet hair specialist cylinder with turbo tool - By now Red had arrived and was just a bit of fluff but, in future this was obviously going to be an issue. So after carefully reading reviews I bought the Vax. The turbo tool was awesome for the first two uses until Magic's fur and my long hair strangled it. I duly took it to pieces, very carefully snipped out the offending items and put it together carefully as the manual advises...and it never again sucked anything up! When attached it made impressive turbo noises till it touched the carpet then it sat as still as if playing statues. I should have returned it but as the actual Vax was doing the job I didnt bother as I had neither the time nor inclination. There was also a design flaw as even a replacement would have allowed hair into the belted part of the tool causing ongoing problems. Therefore if I am lax about vacuuming I need to physically 'brush' the carpet with the vac first to lift the heavy fur. The Vax is still working and in use but the withdrawal of the carer housework input, althought questionable, was still a loss. So a new solution was found.

The Romba i-robot - Proof if ever it was needed that God is a woman. This little flying saucer does the vacuuming itself. I love it, the cats love it and the carpets used to love it. It is 100times more effective than the carer hoovering - intelligence AND effectiveness, what is not to love. It has some drawbacks - it has a tiny dirt collector as it is a small device and sometimes it gets itself stuck under a bed then cries for you to come and rescue it. Also, it is not designed for major cat hair issues without constant emptying and brush cleaning. On the upside, it vacuums BY ITSELF, it goes back to recharge if it is getting low, it tells you when it needs emptied or the brushes are tangled with hair or it cant find the docking station and it plays a triumphant tune when it is finished. It is also very quiet and I sometimes send it round the living room while I am watching tv or late at night as it wont disturb anyone. Normally you only have to get the Vax or Polti out and Red cannot be found for hours as he hates the noise. With the Roomba cats will happily sit on the floor following it and I've even seen it bump Magic on her arthritic leg and although she scowled at it she was unconcerned. Frankly, you'd have to prie this out of my cold dead hands.

So why, with an apprently effective set of solutions am I buying another vacuum? Well really I am looking for something that will deal with the insane and constant amount of cat fur. Red had an allergic reaction to his vaccines and over 6days scratched out a whole two years worth of unshed fur. He is still a furry boy but looks like the victim of extreme grooming. As a result the house has been covered in white balls of tumbleweed and the carpets are layered with ghostly white fur. Both cylinder vacuums are struggling and I'd like not to have to drag the Vax brush across the carpet before getting down to vacuuming as it is hard work and I am inherently lazy especially if there is a tool for the job. Sadly, if the new upright pet vac works, although I'll be delighted it does mean I'll have to admit to the other human that they were right about uprights being better at getting into the pile...!

Sorry Sweetie, was that your tail...?

Red has a huge foxy tail, but unfortunately he now has a little less than before. In a classic oops moment he had padded into the kitchen and sat right behind me while I was cooking. I only noticed when I stepped back and felt a little tug under my heel as he moved away. I spoke to him but thought no more of it until I stepped back again, carefully, but my heel slipped on something slippy. When I looked down I saw a huge chunk of tail fur which I'd obviously liberated when I originally stood on his tail. Red was completely unfussed, he hadn't even squeaked at the time and intriguingly his tail appeared not to be missing a chunk. The pound coin rather puts the fur loss in perspective!