How To Get A Cat To Use A Scratcher

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:12 am on Thursday, April 10, 2014

Following up the post about How To Make Your Own Cat Scratcher: there’s nothing more annoying than buying or making a cat scratcher when they refuse to go near it. Even worse is when your cat prefers to scratch on the sofa instead of the scratching post.

The good news is that cats can be trained. Like dogs, bad behavior can be broken and good behavior can be introduced.

Cats scratch to sharpen their claws and mark their territory. When they scratch, not only are they leaving visible evidence they were there, they are leaving behind a scent pheromone that other cats can smell. It’s a way of saying, “This is my spot, I own it.”

The key to getting them to use the cat scratcher to make clear that they have a spot in the house that they “own” for scratching, but only one place. And that’s not as hard to do as some people think.

Here are some tips to get a cat to use a scratcher:

1. Play with the cat around the scratcher. Wiggle a toy near the scratcher so that the cat claws on it. A few times of this and the cat will start to associate the scratcher with play.

2. Put catnip on the scratcher. Sprinkle a bit of catnip around the scratcher and the cat will want to go near it more and associate it as a fun, good place.

3. Reinforce that the scratcher is the only place where scratching is allowed.
If you catch your cat scratching on your carpet or furniture, tell him no (or spray with a water bottle) and then pick him up and move him to the scratcher. A few times of this and he will start to understand that this is the place he is allowed to go for scratching.

4. Praise the cat for using the scratcher. Saying “good kitty” or “good boy/girl” goes a long way with cats. They respond better to positive reinforcement than punishment. Believe it or not, they do want to please you.

5. Remove pheromones. The above tips should be enough for most cats. However if you have a bad scratching problem, it’s important to remove the cat’s pheromones from the old place they scratch and put them in the new place. There are products you can buy in the pet store that mask the pheromone smell. I’ve used them and they work. If you apply the spray to the old place and follow the above steps consistently, your cat should start to use the scratcher exclusively.

Well, most of the time, anyway. You know how cats are.

Those are my tips. What has worked for you?

How To Pick A Kitten

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:00 am on Monday, March 31, 2014

This post is not an excuse to post pictures of kittens. It’s not!

People always ask me how I ended up with such friendly cats. (Some would call my cats overly friendly.) Part of this is that they have always gotten a lot of attention but part of it is that I picked good kittens in the first place.

Cat personalities can run the gambit from feral to lap cats. Luckily, picking a kitten is not hard at all–in fact it’s very fun–but there are a few things to look for to make sure you get a good one. You want to make sure the kitten is friendly, healthy, and has a good personality.

There are other things to consider when picking a kitten–what it looks like, whether the cat sheds, and whether you want a male or a female (I usually get male cats but find the sex doesn’t matter as long as you get the cat fixed when it’s young). But if you focus on the following points first, you will be happy with your adoption.

When looking for a kitten, make sure the kitten:

Purrs when you touch it.
Unlike adult cats, a good kitten will purr every time it’s picked up. I can’t stress enough how important this is for ending up with a friendly cat. A purring kitten means it’s used to being handled and that it likes people. A kitten that doesn’t purr may be the cutest thing in the world, but if it isn’t bonded to people, it won’t have the same relationship with you that a kitten that purrs will. (Most likely, anyway–there are exceptions to every rule.) If you want a cat that comes when you calls, loves to cuddle, and follows you around, get a kitten that purrs when you pick it up.

Is healthy. There is nothing sadder than a sick kitten. You want your kitten to be in good shape and healthy. This includes:

    A healthy coat. Cats show their health in their fur, so look for a shiny, thick coat. An unhealthy coat may look dull, feel thin, or even have bald spots.

    A healthy weight. You want a kitten with a bit of fat on its body and good muscle tone. Skeletal kittens can have serious problems.

    Clear eyes. It’s common for kittens to have runny eyes. Usually this is a simple problem that can be cleared up by medication, but it’s still something to think about.

    Normal breathing. Kittens that wheeze, sneeze, or show other respiratory issues are doing so because they’re sick. Usually this is a common cold, but sometimes it can be more serious.

    Seems energetic.
    Of course cats sleep a lot, but when the kitten is awake, it should show interest in playing and be generally bright eyed and bushy tailed.

    Has a clean butt.
    Sorry, but you have to check under the tail too. You don’t want to see blood, diarrhea, or any other nasty-looking problems.

Connects with you. Wait for a kitten that has a personality. Usually, this means the kitten will notice and interact with you. Maybe he will come across the cage to see you, maybe he will bat at your clothes, or maybe he will fall asleep on you in the store, as in the case of our most recent cat. However this manifests, you’ll know it when you see it.

How did you know your cat was “the one”?

Erlenmeyer Flask As Vase

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:00 am on Friday, March 14, 2014

savvyhousekeeping scienve erlenmeyer flask as vase

Turns out a Erlenmeyer flask makes a great vase.

4 Clever Yarn Storage Ideas

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:25 am on Friday, February 28, 2014

I’ve been talking about knitting and crocheting on here lately, so it makes sense to talk about yarn storage. Here are four clever ways to organize your yarn:

Put up a pegboard and store the yarn on hooks.

Put your yarn in an old CD tower, like the kind you can get at IKEA.

Display your yarn in clear glass containers.

Or, if you want the yarn out of sight, store them in a shoe organizer on the back of a door.

Man, those shoe organizers sure are handy.

5 More Organizing Tips

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:00 am on Thursday, January 16, 2014

I love all these helpful household tips I’m seeing around the Internet. There are so many clever ideas floating around out there these days.

Here are 5 More Organizing Tips found from around the web.

A decorative way to store your towels: use a hanging wine rack.

Organize your junk drawer with Altoid Tins.

“File” your clothes in a drawer so you can see them easier.

Spray a candle holder with cleaning spray for easy cleaning once the candle burns down.

Keep shoes off the ground with an artfully placed coat holder.

Have you tried any of these? Let me know how they worked.

Use A Shoe Organizer To Organize Cleaners

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:16 am on Monday, January 6, 2014

Here’s an interesting way to organize your cleaners: hang a shoe organizer on the back of a door and store cleaners in them instead. This is especially useful if you have a pantry or a closet for cleaning supplies.

This can also keep cleaners out of the reach of the kids–just store the nontoxic things like sponges toward the bottom.

Alternately, you can use a smaller shoe organizer and do the same thing on the back of a cupboard door, like so:

A Good Organizing Tip

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:54 am on Friday, January 3, 2014

This William Morris quote has long been one of my mottoes, so I was pleased to see it illustrated by the awesome artist Lisa Congdon.

What around you does not fit into these categories right now?

10 Tips To Lose Weight

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:59 am on Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I’m no doctor and I don’t claim to be stick thin. That said, since it’s the beginning of the year and we’re all trying to lose weight (yet again!) I thought I’d share some tips for weight loss that I know work.

They’re common sense ideas that can be summed up as: only eat when hungry, cut out the extras, and move around. Here they are:


Ignore the time of day or when you think you should eat and wait until you feel physical hunger. That’s your body telling you it’s ready for food. If you eat when your body isn’t hungry, it will store that food by turning it into fat. So don’t be afraid of a little emptiness in your belly.

COUNT CALORIES. Counting calories turns losing weight into a simple math problem. If you’re under the calorie count, you will lose weight. No more worrying about gluten or carbs or how many points things have–just add a row of numbers and stop when you hit the limit. There are even online programs to help you. You can calculate how many calories you need to get to your desired weight here and then keep track of what you eat on sites like Livestrong or FitDay.

REMOVE SNACKS FROM THE HOUSE. Getting control of snacking is essential to long-term weight loss. The way I got out of the habit was to stop buying snack food—no more chips, cookies, ice cream, or even healthy snacks like dried fruit or vegetable chips. When it’s not in the house, I won’t eat it.

EAT MOSTLY FRUITS, VEGETABLES, AND LEAN PROTEINS. When I’m losing weight, I choose foods like salads, fish with a vegetable side, chicken breasts, fruit, vegetarian sandwiches, and so on. Since fruits, veggies, and lean proteins are lower calorie, simply opting for them means you’re more likely to lose weight. Plus, they’re good for you.

EAT SWEETS ONLY ONCE A WEEK. I know this is tough for some people, but there does seem to be something to the idea of sugar being addicting. If you have dessert every day, your body comes to expect it. Once a week is plenty of sweets for me, and it makes having dessert into something special.

DRINK LOW-CALORIE DRINKS. I mostly drink no-calorie beverages like water, diet soda, coffee and try to keep regular soda, juice, and alcohol to a minimum. Wine in particular can creep up on me—one 5-ounce glass of wine has 130 calories, which is almost like drinking a can of Coke. That can add up fast.

WATCH FATTY EXTRAS. Examples of “fatty extras”: mayonnaise, aioli, pesto, whip cream, ranch dressing, tarter sauce, peanut butter, and hollandaise sauce. You know what I’m talking about. When eating out, I always get these sauces on the side so I can control how much goes on my food. Or better yet, skip it altogether. (Or substitute avocado.)

EAT AT HOME. Sad to say, but eating out makes you fatter. You’re just not as likely to layer on as much butter and grease as a restaurant is likely to do. Plus, eating at home saves money.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY SIGNALS. I haaaattteee feeling too full and will go to great lengths to avoid it. When I’m eating, I notice when I’m getting full and start to slow down. Even if I’ve only eaten half my food, when I get the signal I’m full, I stop eating. If I never overeat, I never feel gross after a meal. Learn to recognize that signal in your body—it’s there.

MOVE! You don’t have to get a fancy gym membership to lose weight. Go for walks, kick a ball around, ride a bike, plant a garden, drag out the tennis racket … in other words, find movement that is fun for you, and try to do it a couple times a week. If more people had fun with exercise, more people would do it.

Weight loss! That’s what works for me. What works for you?

New Year’s Jar 2013

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 11:36 am on Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My New Year’s Jar

Almost a year ago, I mentioned I was going to make a New Year’s Jar. You write down things that happen during the year and put them in the jar. Then on New Year’s Eve, you read the notes in the jar.

Well, I’ve been doing it:

Tonight we read the notes. I’m looking forward to it.

What about you? Did you keep a New Year’s Jar for 2013?

Use A Pillow Case To Organize Your Sheets

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:25 am on Friday, December 27, 2013

I’ve recently started storing my sheet sets in a pillow case, like in the above picture. You fold the sheets and pillow cases and put them in one of the pillow cases.

That way when you make the bed, the sheets are already together in one bundle. Plus it makes your linen closet look a lot neater!

I can’t believe it took me so long to start doing this.

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