Cat Barf
December 10, 2004 3:18 PM   Subscribe

Point one: We are beginning to look for our first home.
Point two: Hardwood floors are pretty.
Point three: We have a kitty we lovingly call "Madame Barfary".

I've looked and looked, but can't seem to discover whether cat barf is harmful to hardwood floors. Anyone have experience in this area?
posted by frykitty to Pets & Animals (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've never had a problem, especially if the floors are waxed and sealed. I think it's about as harmful as spilt coffee - a little acidic, but it would need to be left uncleaned for a long while to cause some minimal damage/discoloration.
posted by sophie at 3:23 PM on December 10, 2004

Let me put it this way: if it's harmful to hardwood, it's a lot more harmful to carpet. Or unsealed tile.

Which is to say, no problems here. Greetings from Baron von Barfsalot, who is snuggled up against me.
posted by stonerose at 3:26 PM on December 10, 2004

Yeah, that's the only problem I predict: knowing when kitty has left a pile of stomach acid off in a corner somwhere. Left too long, these can discolor the floor underneath. And damn if cats don't slink off somewhere private to do this kind of thing.
posted by scarabic at 3:28 PM on December 10, 2004

Best answer: If you clean it up, rather than leave it sitting for a day or two, the floors will be fine. Little Miss Yaksalot didn't bother the hardwood floors at all.
posted by majick at 3:29 PM on December 10, 2004 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, I'm much relieved. But everyone please keep answering, as I'm getting quite a kick out of those vomity pet names.
posted by frykitty at 3:31 PM on December 10, 2004

We've had a bit of dog vomit on our newly refinshed floors, it didn't appear to damage them in any way. No discoloration etc. We cleaned it up right away with warm water and maybe a bit of Nature's Miracle (although they say only water and vinegar should be used to clean wood floors with our finish type...)

FYI my floors are oak and pine and sealed with 2 coats of Swedish finish, not the waxed and poly sealed finish.
posted by pitchblende at 3:34 PM on December 10, 2004

I don't know if its just my cats or a more universal cat behavior - but when I had hardwood floors, 9 out of 10 times my boys would run to the throw rugs to be sick on them.
(They don't mind barfing on carpeting or linoleum, but seem to avoid being sick on the wood floors because it's just not as comfortable for them.)
posted by sophie at 3:51 PM on December 10, 2004

Ralph and Blargh haven't ruined the kitchen floor yet. I'm sure timely cleanup is a key element.
posted by britain at 3:52 PM on December 10, 2004

Best answer: After ten years of living with (a) unsealed, un-polyurethaned Danish-oil-finished floors and (b) my late and sometimes-lamented cat, the Duke of Hurl, I would advise:
1. make sure the floors are sealed in some manner; and
2. do not, for the love of god, give the cat those varieties of dry food that for some insane reason (eye appeal for the human buyer, probably) incorporate red dye (Meow Mix would be an example).

Whenever I move, I'm going to have to pay my landlords a fortune to sand and refinish in here...
posted by Kat Allison at 3:52 PM on December 10, 2004

Oscar & Felix take great pleasure in leaving piles of semi-digested . . . well you get the point. They don't even slink off to a corner. They just do it wherever they happen to be at the time the feeling strikes them, which is always in the middle of a high traffic area. The last time that I traveled, my kittysitter failed to see some kitty puke. It must have been there for several days before I got home. There was no damage to my floors.
posted by Juicylicious at 3:56 PM on December 10, 2004

Laminated (shiny) and/or sealed floors won't get damage from Madame Barfly's adventures, unless she decides to pee all over them while you are away and it sinks in.. Then all bets are off.

I've only had experience with hardwood floors that are 100 years old, and a slightly bulimic furball who eats way too fast for his own good.
posted by dabitch at 4:07 PM on December 10, 2004

And damn if cats don't slink off somewhere private to do this kind of thing.
scarabic - yeah didn't you they call that game "Hide and go puke"?
posted by dabitch at 4:08 PM on December 10, 2004

Lady Spewtastic and Sir Hurkenstein do their worst on our sealed floors, but they (and we) persevere. Do what Kat says, and it will not matter what the cats spray.

(Their real names? The Big Delicious and Mushi Mushi Gila Monster. So, they actually prefer to be called by their titles.)
posted by melissa may at 4:09 PM on December 10, 2004

Ms. Scatterbits is afraid to toss on the hardwoods so she also finds the nearest rug, bed, etc., to make her pile. I'd rather her just use the bare floor.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:16 PM on December 10, 2004

Rasha and Mouse are all about finding the rug, too (and then try to drag things onto it to bury it). Cleans up fine from the old, probably poorly-finished hardwood the couple of times they've just stayed where they were, though.
posted by mendel at 4:25 PM on December 10, 2004

I just realized that I misspelled the Madames name. Perhaps if I fix her up on a date with Lord Launch Lunch she'll forgive me?
posted by dabitch at 4:51 PM on December 10, 2004

Yacky the Wondercat hasn't managed to destroy our hardwood yet. We have oak finished with clear urethane, and it cleans up just dandy. Even when we find petrified sickup--you just flake it off and then gently scrub, and all is well.
posted by padraigin at 4:54 PM on December 10, 2004

Actually, this might be also a little depending on the gack. If Madame Barfary is just barking at the ants after lunch, and you have taken Kat's advice to avoid 'red food', cleanup is easy, and smell is not really much of a problem. However, if the lady is more inclinded to core dump stomach acid only trying to get a pesky hair out.. well that stuff smells. Whats the quickest cure for that stink? My mother uses a mix of things and I have no idea what she puts inthat bottle, but it kills the smell of earl dead.
posted by dabitch at 5:16 PM on December 10, 2004

If you're trying to decide between a home with harwood floors over carpeting, I've gotta say that my buddy Strong Larry has damaged my carpeted rooms a lot with his instinctive, mindless clawing habits.
posted by sophie at 6:00 PM on December 10, 2004

barf = acid = bad for wood
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:02 PM on December 10, 2004

My mother uses a mix of things and I have no idea what she puts inthat bottle, but it kills the smell of earl dead.

You need something to kill the bacteria. Lots of things can do this, but if you're desparate, I can reccomend one of the two chemicals to fix most things that I usually reccomend: Isopropyl Alcohol. It also makes a cheap-bastards deodorant, too, for the same reasons it'll clean up most funks. Just a bit of it goes a long way to freshening up garbage cans.

Of course, it's a bad idea to use on the wax, and it is really bad on anything inked, but hey, a little shouldn't wreck anything.
posted by shepd at 6:04 PM on December 10, 2004

Its a sealed, protective coating on that floor, to protect it from just that kind of stuff, and your scuffy feet, moving furniture etc.

Just get it up quick, if ya work all day and come home to it thats fine, it would have to sit for days.

But Steve_at_ Linwood is right overall.

Work in the refinishing trade, floors are made to walk on.
posted by Max Power at 6:25 PM on December 10, 2004

And damn if cats don't slink off somewhere private to do this kind of thing.

Haven't met my cats. Last week one of mine was on my lap in front of the computer and welll ....

My hardwood floors are sealed and I've never had a problem with staining after they've vomited on the floor.
posted by squeak at 6:35 PM on December 10, 2004

Bowing down to the keyboad God is all wrong. Check if van Upchuck there is dyslexic.
posted by dabitch at 6:49 PM on December 10, 2004

The late Barfokitty, a.k.a. the Vomit Comet, did not directly damage the hardwood floors with his habits. What damaged the floors was cleaning up his spew from the rug ON the hardwood floors - stupidly using soda water and not being smart enough to pick up the rug and put a towel underneath. That and the puppy, same deal with the rug. So just remember - do not not not leave a damp rug sitting on your hardwood floors.

The puppy did the most damage to the floor, but, on the other hand, he never vomited in midair while leaping from a loft either: that was entertaining.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:05 PM on December 10, 2004

Best answer: I miss hardwood floors so much, because my youngest kitty is a barfer (So Long, and Thanks for All the Barf) and I never really minded it until I had to move to an apartment with wall-to-wall carpet. Ugh! The only time the barf had an effect on the hardwood was if it was old puke hidden somewhere that I didn't find for a week or two, then it might discolor a bit. Carpets have proven more of a pain to clean, and until they invent this cat food, I'm stuck scrubbing up barf spots every couple days or listening for the dreaded "hurk" noises so I can grab her in time to puke on the kitchen or bathroom floor instead. If you can train a cat to use a litterbox, why can't you train 'em to barf in one spot, on the tile?
posted by Melinika at 7:58 PM on December 10, 2004

Our cat has a disorder that can result in a variety of this type of issue -- and it's way harder on carpet than it is on hardwood floors. We have both varietys. Here's to hoping Madame Barfary does not require sedation to subdue her hurlings.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:47 PM on December 10, 2004

9 times out of 10, my cats will head for a throw rug, a shoe, or a piece of clothing -- as sophie said above, they would rather puke anywhere BUT the easy-to-clean wood floor.
posted by sluggo at 8:34 AM on December 11, 2004

Um.. your cats all barf a lot.

I found that switching to an indoor cat dry food formulation really cut down on that.

Petco carries it - Nutro Complete Care Indoor (or senior, if your cats are over 8).
posted by Caviar at 10:19 AM on December 11, 2004

Frequent vomiting, especially right after a meal, can be a sign of a hairball problem. Our kitties still prefer to puke on the carpet rather than the tile, but it's a lot better since we put them on special hairball control food.
posted by gokart4xmas at 6:08 AM on December 12, 2004

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