Fireworks, cats and carpets don’t mix

It’s hard to believe, but the frugal life found its way into the Sunday Times this weekend. Eco-journalist Gordon Miller braved the wilds of Essex last week to interview me at home about winning the Energy Saving Trust’s Green Voice competition. When he isn’t writing, Gordon runs his own eco-homes website and is also launching a greening scheme in his local community. It was nice to meet somebody genuinely passionate about the environment and his local area – I know how easy it is to become cynical about things, especially when you’re a journalist.

But if you think I was basking in the glory and bathing in homebrew beer to celebrate, you’d be mistaken. Apologies to anybody with a delicate stomach, but I spent much of Sunday cleaning cat sick off the carpet in the spare room. Poor old Dougal, my cat, was terrified out of his wits by my neighbour’s fireworks display and massive bonfire on Saturday night. The party was still going on at 1am on Sunday morning. Doogs was so freaked out that, after we’d gone to bed, he ran around the house like a lunatic and ended up showing his appreciation by ‘redecorating’ the spare room.

Now, like most cat owners, I have long been an expert at cleanups, but acting quickly is key and it’s not that easy to find the evidence in the dark and when you’re half asleep. I borrowed DJ’s head-torch on Saturday night to avoid waking him up by switching all the lights on (must have looked particularly ridiculous wearing them while in my pyjamas) and thought I’d covered the bases, but the horrible stink  the next day told us otherwise. DJ was particularly upset as he uses the room as his office. “Why couldn’t he do it in your office?” he moaned. Obviously Dougal knows who controls the tin opener…

I was a bit worried about how to get rid of the smell and clean the carpets effectively. A few years ago we had cheap cream carpets laid upstairs – something I wouldn’t do again in a hurry. It’s at times like these that the instinct to reach for harsh chemicals hits you but I was worried about leaving a mark and making the smell worse. That said – good old fashioned washing up liquid and water seems to have worked for most of the patches and opening the window/squirting lemon juice around the room has banished the stink (just as well with DJ’s mum coming to stay for Christmas in a matter of weeks…hope she isn’t reading this…).

But there are still a few brownish patches down the side of DJ’s desk. I had a leaf through my Friends of the Earth Save Cash & Save the Planet book but while it’s a great book, I couldn’t find anything useful on carpet stains. Some of the forum users quoted in Martin Lewis’ Thrifty Ways for Modern Days recommend throwing bicarbonate of soda onto the carpet as a cheap ‘Shake and Vac’. I admit to using my Vanish pre-wash stain remover as one website recommended, but it doesn’t seem to have made much difference.

Help! Has anybody got any good frugal carpet cleaning tips?! Leave a message and I’ll try them out…Hope I haven’t grossed you all out too much…

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11 Responses to Fireworks, cats and carpets don’t mix

  1. Vix says:

    Jeepers Doogs! Maybe some kitty valium for next year? We came back from holiday to find the Beelzebub (aka Kit) had barfed all over our sofas, my bed and the larger girlchild\’s bed too. Ick. Thankfully I was able to strip and shove in washing machine, not the greenest solution but definitely the fastest. With regards to cleaning carpets, the only thing I have discovered that works effectively is 1001 stain remover, it even got Sudocreme out which is a marvellous feat. Again not the greenest thing though, I think my project for next year will be to turn the household cleaners green, added side effect that when the girls decide to "help" it won\’t matter so much if they clean the windows with the Raid and not the Pledge [long suffering look].

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I\’d agree about 1001 carpet cleaner being very efficient but it is highly toxic and has THE MOST obnoxious \’scent\’ to it. I\’d try a good scrubbing with warm water with perhaps a few drops of tea tree oil or lavender oil in it and a \’rough\’ cloth. Poor kitty, cats really get so upset by fireworks.Congratulations on winning the Green Voice competition. I\’ve only found my way to your blog because your win was featured in a local paper (I live in Wickford) and it\’s great to find someone else trying to live a frugal life in this part of Essex.

  3. Christine says:

    Ooooooh there\’s a number of frugal issues here. Frugal isn\’t always buying cheap – frugal sometimes means buying better quality to last. Also modern lifestyle and pets don\’t always mix as you have found – especially white carpets, cats and fireworks. Sometimes it\’s not frugal at all to have pets. You need to consider your lifestyle and your home in order to decide if it\’s a good thing to have pets and if so what sort of pets. I\’ve heard from people with cats helps no end at firework times – . It\’s also said that this helps – With regard to the carpets – the stains may well have set in by now and be well ingrained. All you can do is to regularly return to them and clean the whole area thoroughly with warm water and whatever mild detergent that you feel will suit and hope that they fade over time. On the other hand – put something over them to hide them – mat, chair, small table or similar.

  4. piper says:

    Thanks for the suggestions & messages. It\’s better in the room but still a bit whiffy. A couple of the stains are hard to get to because they\’re behind the desk in a corner. DJ is still refusing to spend much time in there…!

  5. Kerri says:

    Oh dear! Until recently we had two cats, our older one (who has now passed away) was far too long in the tooth to be bothered by fireworks, and in the last few years had lost his hearing so deff wasn\’t bothered. Our other cat who is scatty and skittish at the best of times (having been a stray in her early years) is oddly bothered by all noises EXCEPT fireworks and couldn\’t give two hoots about them (I have given up trying to work out the way she thinks!)If you\’re trying to get the smell of cat sick out, try biological washing liquid on the offending area, the enzymes break down the bacteria left behind (also good when cats pee somewhere too). There\’s a forum which is very helpful in all things kitty related sympathise with you, not too long ago I let our older cat out in the middle of the night, walking my way through the lounge only to wake up the next morning to find Skippy had been sick all over the floor – I don\’t know how I didn\’t put my foot in it letting Guinness out but thank goodness I didn\’t!

  6. alex says:

    Use Ariel Handwash powder, spinkle lightly on top of a bowl of warm water and pat the area clean with a cloth. The biological enzymes in the powder break down the smell for both you and the cat, also use this method if the cat pees or poos on the carpet. Please do not use lemon juice as cats really hate the smell of anything citrus. Spray with Surgical spririt if you want to kill odour further as the cat will be ok with this.

  7. barry says:

    CJ ,you have got it nailed very well said, honest and real, a few M.Ps could learn a lot from you, what a shame we elected a load of crooks and theifs who are beyond the law its disgusting.

  8. Julie says:

    I am was very saddened by Christine\’s comment \’Sometimes it\’s not frugal at all to have pets\’. Pets are priceless, and the cheapest and most rewarding form of stress relief and happiness that a tin of food a day can buy. Sadly, this attitude is why animal shelters are piled up with unwanted pets. People are using the recession as an excuse not to neuter/look after/have pets but please consider taking in an unwanted pet. If you want to get your pet neutered for free, or know why you should consider this, visit your local rescue shelter or read this

  9. piper says:

    I agree, no name. For me, a life without pets would be a pretty miserable one as they are such rewarding company (with the exception of Dougal\’s carpet incident!) and I think it\’s very likely people are using the recession as an excuse to get rid of them. Yes, it can be expensive if they\’re ill, but largely keeping a cat etc. is a much cheaper habit than smoking and far more rewarding.

  10. Bill says:

    Wish the council would allow me a large, hairy dog, much better company than the average homo sapien, much more intelligent.

  11. Fran says:

    You mentioned ‘who controls the tin opener’. Living a frugal life as you do, I’m surprised you haven’t discovered the joy of feeding pets a raw diet.

    8-months-ago I changed my dog over to a raw meaty bones diet; this means ditching the kibble/canned dog food and feeding fresh, raw meat instead. You might think this would be more expensive, but it actually costs us nearly half what it used to cost us to feed her on premium kibble per month – 3 pounds a week rather than 5 pounds (she weighs 27 kilos).

    Her diet consists of 50% raw meaty bones (ones she can eat rather than marrow bones), with the other 50% made up of raw green tripe, raw offal (ox liver, heart, lung), and chicken carcasses. Cooked chicken carcasses splinter and will likely kill your pet, raw chicken carcasses are soft and pliable and can therefore be eaten safely (as demonstrated on a daily basis by foxes killing chickens). Some feed veg/fruit as well, but I don’t.

    Cats need more muscle meat than bones and a plentiful supply of taurine (e.g. from ox heart).

    Many butchers will give you bones for free if you’re a regular customer, or sell them cheaply – ditto for chicken carcasses (you may have to pretend you want them for soup). You can also get everything you need direct from suppliers, such as: and

    You feed about 2-3% of a dog or cat’s body weight per day.

    If, like me, you were brainwashed by pet food companies into believing that you must feed a commercial diet because otherwise you’ll harm your pet’s health, then consider that most parents do a good job of feeding their children without having the human equivalent of kibble. And human health professionals generally agree that if you want to live a long and healthy life, you need to eat as much fresh food as possible and avoid processed food. Yet kibble and canned pet food is exactly what you are advised to avoid: processed food.

    The benefits of feeding raw are several fold:
    Far fewer trips to the vets – raw fed pets tend to be healthier with stronger immune systems.
    Bones naturally clean and floss a dog’s/cat’s teeth every time they gnaw on them, so no build-up of tartar which is routinely (and expensively) scraped by vets under GA.
    (For the reason above) no dog-breath (dog-breath is frequently a sign of periodontal disease).
    Raw fed pets are far less prone to fleas – you will therefore save on flea treatments as your pet will rarely need to be done.
    Raw fed dogs are less likely to suffer from behavioural problems – many complete dog foods, biscuits and ‘pouches’ are loaded with sugar, which makes your dog hyper.
    Cleaning up a dog’s faeces that has eaten bones is easier – stools are far less bulky and messy.

    Even though we used to feed her a premium, sugar-free, hypoallergenic kibble, the difference raw-feeding has made to her coat condition, energy levels and temperament has been remarkable – she’s far less ‘nervy’. Seeing the difference raw food has made to her, I would never go back to feeding commercial dog food.

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