Saturday, July 23, 2011

Two great pet products

Over the years I have tried an assortment of pet care products, and many of them lie unused in a cupboard out in the garage. I have found two items that I’d like to share with you. I like them so much I’ve given them to many of my pet sitting clients. Both are inexpensive and practical.

Litter Lifter
Years ago, I would complain to my husband that none of the litter scoops were heavy duty enough for cleaning multi-cat litter boxes. Since he worked for Petco, he started brining home samples for me to try. Inspired, he fashioned a metal prototype, which I found to be so heavy I was going to end up with carpal tunnel syndrome. On the other side of the problem, many of the plastic scoops were flimsy and the tines broke easily. 

The Litter Lifter is the answer to my prayers. It is large and made of heavy-duty plastic, with peaked tines that allow the sand to flow through easily. It’s not heavy, but it deals with even the biggest clumps. When I have a client who needs it, I usually “gift” one to them while they are on vacation. They’ve all loved it.

I found the Litter Lifter at a pet expo and bought a dozen for my clients. Now I’m happy to report it is available at Petco. Price: $5.50

The Tangle Wrangler

This item is a horse supply, and you will probably have to order it online or go to a tack and feed store. I love this brush because the rows of plastic tines fan out as you brush through the dog’s coat (or the horse’s mane). 

I use the Tangle Wrangler on Golden retrievers, Aussies, Cavalier Spaniels and other dogs with long silky coats. It also removes a lot of undercoat on my shelties. My only complaint is the tines start to break after a few months of use. Then again, mine looks like it was chewed on, so that may be the problem! Price: About $5.95.

I don't get paid for plugging these products. I just like them.

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© 2011 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

How I almost killed myself while cleaning the cat box

I have huge litter boxes for my cats. The sides are high, and they rarely miss the box when peeing. I keep the cat boxes in the unused shower, the one with broken tiles and a leaking drain pan. This handy setup is one of the benefits of living in a 60-year-old house.

My cat Whisper © Terry Albert
This morning when I went to sweep up some litter they had tracked on the shower floor, I realized it was wet. I carried the litter box outside, and saw that the underside was wet, and it smelled awful. I washed the box and left it outside to air-dry while I went in to clean up the shower.

The shower clearly could use disinfecting, so I grabbed the cleaner-with-bleach and headed down the hall with a roll of paper towels. I couldn’t rinse out the shower because of the leaks, so I needed to clean up the mess and wipe it out.

As soon as the cleaning spray hit the shower floor, I knew I was in trouble. The fumes of the bleach cleaner mixed with the ammonia in the urine and IMMEDIATELY created an extremely toxic chloramine gas. My nose, eyes and throat burned. My lungs felt like I’d swallowed a torch. I dropped everything and ran from the room.

Now, a couple hours later, my chest still hurts, and I realize how much danger I was in. If I hadn’t left the room, I would have quickly lost consciousness, and could have even died.

A search on the Internet confirmed my suspicions. Here’s what I found on
  • If you find someone who you think has mixed bleach and ammonia, chances are he or she will be unconscious. If you can, remove the person to fresh air, preferably outdoors. Call 911 for emergency assistance.
  • Thoroughly ventilate the area before returning to dispose of the liquid. Seek specific instructions from Poison Control so that you don't hurt yourself. You're most likely to make this mistake in a bathroom or kitchen, so leave and seek assistance, return later to open a window, allow time for the fumes to dissipate, and then go back to clean up. Dilute the chemical mixture with plenty of water. Wear gloves, just as you would for either bleach or ammonia.
Just to be sure, I called poison control 800-222-1222. They told me as long as I was breathing okay, to just drink something cold or eat some ice cream to soothe my throat. If I had trouble breathing, I would need to go to the hospital for oxygen and supportive care.

I knew not to mix household cleaners, but didn’t stop to think about the ammonia in urine. There’s no reason to create chemical weapons in your home and release them on yourself. Good God, it’s hard to imagine such a silly thing could kill me. 

Note: Another toxic mixture is bleach and vinegar, which releases chlorine gas.
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© 2011 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.