How to Clean Your Home After Fostering a Cat with Feline Distemper
Cleaning Your Home After a Foster Cat with Feline Distemper
The best thing about fostering is that you get to help a lot of shelter or rescue cats prepare for, and find, future forever homes. In addition to being such a rewarding experience, it’s a wonderful way to lessen the burden of shelters, as well as prevent perfectly healthy and adoptable felines from being put to sleep due to limited shelter space.
However, there’s really no way of knowing what will happen down the road. Sometimes, animals in your care can get sick. The worst-case scenario is that they’ll catch an infection that may jeopardize the health of future foster cats, such as Feline Distemper.
Feline Distemper, also known as Feline Panleukopenia, is a highly contagious viral disease in cats. It’s caused by the Feline Parvovirus, and just like its canine counterpart, the virus is extremely hardy and difficult to get rid of. However, with patience and the right cleaning methods, it’s far from undoable. Follow the steps below and your home will be Distemper-free in no time!
Step 1: Protect Yourself
Before entering the contaminated area, make sure that you equip yourself with protective coveralls or disposable clothing, a pair of disposable rubber gloves, a face mask, and footwear that you can bleach or dispose of afterward, like rubber boots or an old pair of shoes. We’ve put together a complete protective gear set here, if you’re interested, feel free to check it out.
While cleaning, don’t leave the area without washing your hands first and leaving your footwear behind to avoid spreading the virus into your living space.
Step 2: Start Cleaning
Contrary to popular belief, cleaning and disinfecting are two very different things. Cleaning doesn’t kill pathogens but helps reduce the number of them in an area. It essentially prepares the contaminated space for disinfection—the step that comes after cleaning. Disinfection kills the pathogens that weren’t removed during cleaning.
Start the cleaning process by scrubbing everything down with a regular household cleaner that contains QUATs or quaternary ammonium compounds, such as benzalkonium chloride or dodecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride. For this step, we recommend using KennelSol. (You can get it here.) Clean all the surfaces and objects within the contaminated space.
Step: 2 Disinfect
Once you’ve cleaned everything, disinfect the area, as well as all contaminated items by scrubbing them down with a diluted bleach mixture (1 part bleach, 30 parts water). This includes the floors, walls, windows, rugs, cat trees—everything inside the foster space.
For easy dilution and a less messy cleanup, try using bleach tablets. We personally love using GuardH Bleach Tablets. It removes the risks of spills, which can be very dangerous, and it’s dissolves pretty quickly. Plus, you can also use it to disinfect clothing. If you want to check it out, or view other safer and more convenient alternatives to liquid bleach, click here.
If you have carpeted floors, then you can use a carpet steamer with bleach. Don’t forget to scrub the sides and the bottom part of the carpet steamer with diluted bleach before bringing it outside the contaminated area.
Step 3: Sanitize Non-Porous Objects and Equipment
Non-porous surfaces and items, such as tiles, concrete floors, and stainless steel grooming tools, litter boxes, food bowls or kennels, can be soaked in bleach for 10 to 15 minutes, rinsed thoroughly with water, and air-dried.
Step 4: Dispose of Porous Items
Porous objects, like plastic food bowls or litter pans, toys, feeding tubes, syringes, and wood or cardboard scratchers, usually have microscopic tears that can serve as a haven for the distemper virus, as well as other disease-causing pathogens.
The only way to effectively remove them is through bleach, but since it’s a corrosive agent that will melt through the porous material anyway, it’s simply not going to work. That’s why you’ll need to dispose of all the porous items.
However, you’ll still need to disinfect all of them with bleach to prevent the virus from spreading outdoors. All opened food bags and medicine inside the room should also be thrown away. After doing so, triple-bag them and throw them in the outdoor trash bin.
Step 5: Disinfect Contaminated Shoes and Clothing
After cleaning and disinfecting the contaminated foster space, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and disinfect the clothing and shoes that you wore with diluted bleach (1 part bleach, 30 parts water).
Soak the bottoms of your shoes in the bleach mixture for about 10 minutes before rinsing it with water. Clothing can be thrown in the washing machine and washed with bleach instead of regular detergent. If you used disposable protective gear, then triple-bag them and throw them in the outdoor trash bin.
The Feline Parvovirus is very tough and can persist indoors for up to a year. Outdoors, it can survive through extreme weather conditions, including freezing temperatures. To avoid exposing future foster cats to the virus, it’s best to wait several months to a year before introducing a new feline into the home.