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Cats and hardwood floors -- bad mix?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I'm getting hard maple hardwood flooring installed on the entire main level of my house in a few weeks. I currently have a pale taupe carpet that is the bane of my existence and it's time for it to go. It was the cheapest grade of carpet the builder could find, I'm sure. Add to that 5 cats and constant vacuuming (though twice yearly steam cleaning to freshen it up) and them using it as scratching posts, I've had enough.

My only concern about hardwood is.............(it's prefinished hard maple)....what will happen if one of the cats horks up a furball and I'm not there to wipe it up immediately (which will almost always be the case, considering I work during the day and sleep during the night LOL)? If there's any bile/stomach acid in the hork, will it ruin the finish in that spot of the floor? What about just the fluid itself; you're obviously not supposed to get wood floors wet and you're supposed to wipe up spills immediately. Am I going to be in for some big trouble?

I'll obviously have to figure out what to do with their 2 water bowls. As the entire main level will be hardwood (which is where their food and water bowls currently reside), I can't really start moving the water bowls to my basement or upstairs, I don't think that would be fair to them....but the 2 youngest have been known to get rowdy and go tearing through the house and accidentally knock over the bowl. This mortifies me! Suggestions? If this were to happen while I was at work or asleep, I'd be screwed.

The only thing I can think to do is..............get one of those plastic or rubber shoe/boot mats, the type with the 1 inch lip/rim on it.......and perhaps use a smaller water bowl such that if it DID entirely spill, the water would be totally contained by the lip on the mat. Won't look all that attractive but I don't think I have any choice.

What do others here do?

My Dad thinks I'm crazy for having hardwood put in the kitchen, he was just here to preach to me about how stupid of an idea that was, should have been tile. I opted to go with the hardwood because my house is small and I think a room doesn't look as small if you have the same type of flooring throughout (my house is more of an open concept). He warned the dickens out of me that I am going to regret it in the kitchen, that I'll have ruined it in a month, that if I spill anything on it that it will stain instantly, etc etc. I think he's totally exaggerating. Any new showhome I've looked at has had hardwood in the kitchen so it can't be that stupid if an idea? Any input from those with prefinished hardwood in their kitchens? The color will be a sienna/cinnamon stained hard maple (had to choose this color as it matches wood on foyer stair railing).

thanks for any tips or input :-)

post #2 of 17
I had wood floors throughout in my old place, no idea what sort of wood as it was there when I moved in.

My cats don't get hairballs, and don't generally sick up. They did however still water bowls and fountains, didn't affect my floor at all. I'd just wipe it up when I got home or woke up.
post #3 of 17
For my water fountain I use a pee pad(left over from my boyfriends incontinent 17 year old dog who refused to use them, she crossed the bridge in July) and a towel. Of course it also in my bedroom so I have the room and no one sees it other than us. I use it since the stupid thing spills when lifted and I don't need wet carpet. It also prevents the carpet from getting wet from the bowl in general. Not sure if you want that look though, but it works well. You could also get a tip-proof bowl and that might help in it not getting spilled. Honestly pet mats to me are uglier and tend to spill when you life them. Then again I have 3 litter boxes on top of towels, 2 in the kitchen and one in the bathroom(Attitude and Nuts tend to seriously throw litter when they use the box so it makes clean up easier.) For the litter boxes it just towels, don't need absorbency so I don't mind using towels to make my life easier, but you might.

Not sure about puke, but I doubt it would ruin it. Ask the installer or the place you bought it from, they should be able to tell you, they can also tell you about water bowls and such. I don't see it as a problem but I also don't have wood floors, but most can handle small spills that can't be mopped up immediately.

post #4 of 17
Unfortunately I can't offer you any advice as I don't have hardwood floors, but I do feel compelled to share a story...

Due to personal/financial/health issues I moved in with my brother and SIL for 4 months recently. My room was in their basement, and because my brother (and possibly my nephew) is allergic to cats, Holland was not allowed upstairs into the main house. But because I am a rebel, I allowed Holland to come upstairs with me when my brother and SIL were out for any length of time. I just made sure to lint roll any furniture she may have touched.

Well, they "caught" us one day when they came home from a football game, and Holland was in the front room enjoying a patch of sunlight. Holland, being afraid of all people who aren't ME, did her best to get back downstairs ASAP (they have hardwood floors throughout their main floor). I will never forget her running around the corner and scrabbling on the hardwood floor to get downstairs to "safety". I know I shouldn't laugh, but it reminded me of a Bugs Bunny type cartoon. Her little legs were moving like crazy but she wasn't going anywhere...

On the plus side, my 3-year-old nephew fell in love with the idea of having a cat in the house and insisted on coming down to visit her every day. I let him give her treats and by the time we moved out, she was to the point where she would not only NOT hide from him, but would let him pet her.

Another time when I was watching my baby niece and let Holland upstairs was really cute too. It didn't take Holland long to figure out that my niece wasn't mobile and was therefore not much of a threat. My niece thought EVERYTHING Holland did was hilarious... it was a very cute time.
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks, ladies, for the suggestions and input so far. Mystik, your story is really very heartwarming :-)

Well I spent a large part of the evening surfing the net, trying to find some type of really sturdy cat bowl "holder"; one that seemed solid and not easy to tip over. The first one (with the red Asian ceramic bowls) I ordered. The next pic, I think I'll be ordering it as well. Wish the Asian came with 3 bowls because that's what I use now (2 different types of dry plus water bowl). Each stand is a height of 4", the appropriate size for cats (they come in larger sizes, for dogs). They're from

post #6 of 17
There is hardwood in my house also, including kitchen (well I think it's called laminate, but that is even more easily ruined by water.)
As far as the kitchen just make sure you have an area rug next to where the sink is.
What I have for water is something very similar to this

It is pretty big so it's hard for cats to knock it over, and for me it has never spilled. You can find these at Pets mart. The one I have is actually more elevated so that is even harder to spill anything.
I don't know about hairballs, I haven't had to deal with those yet. Jake has thrown up once or twice but I've been there to clean it up. I think the chances of vomit ruining the floor aren't very big.
post #7 of 17
I have hardwood throughout and a cat that binges and purges (vomits almost weekly) and often while I'm not home. I've never ever had the hardwood stain, even when it's been left for the entire day.

As for water, I also have this... and two heavy ceramic dishes, the only person who has ever knocked them over is me

Originally Posted by ut0pia View Post

What I have for water is something very similar to this
post #8 of 17
We have real oak hardwoods original to our home. I can't comment on hairballs, because the two that have happened have made it to the area rugs. However I have had Harley puke a couple times and no issues. Also when it comes to water on the floors, its not as though you can't get water on them, you just want to be sure to not soak them and also be sure they get dried.

I keep their water bowls on the floor without a mat without issues. I actually currently use our fiestaware serving dish that holds like 4 qts of water, its very bottom heavy.

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
I think with the bowl stands I've ordered now (pictured further up in this thread), I should be okay on that front. Guess we'll see how things go with the furballs, that's what really concerns me. Generally when they hork them up, it's just clear liquid and fur (not any bile) but sometimes there is a bit of bile (as noted from the stains it leaves on my pale taupe carpet, that I'm able to clean up nicely with Spot Shot). It's not like someone's horking up a furball each day, not at all........but with 5 of them, I'd say someone will do so once a week.

I hope and pray that my 2 yr old Hobee doesn't try using the hardwood covered STAIRS as his new scratching post. He's got a thing for wood. At present, most of my basement is unfinished and he'll often be downstairs, standing on his tip toes, stretched and using one of the studs to sharpen his claws with. Why he does this (none of the others ever have), I have no idea. I have plenty of good carpeted scratching posts in the house. Guess he thinks it's a tree? LOL
post #10 of 17
We have oak floors and I haven't seen any damage from vomit. I think the polyurethane protects them. We did have a problem with the water fountain leaking, but I found a place that sells restaurant equipment and found a nice round cafeteria tray that contains any spills. It also makes moving the fountain to the sink so I can clean it easier.
post #11 of 17
As your installer or the manufacturer about what sort of sealer works best with pets - one of my cat books recommends the stuff they use in bowling alleys (well, that certainly should work, wouldn't you think?) And good luck - i bet it will be beautiful!
post #12 of 17
Originally Posted by darlili View Post
As your installer or the manufacturer about what sort of sealer works best with pets - one of my cat books recommends the stuff they use in bowling alleys (well, that certainly should work, wouldn't you think?) And good luck - i bet it will be beautiful!
I had our hardwood floors refinished at our old house when we pulled up the carpet, and we used the finish used in bowling alleys and gymnasiums. Once it cured, nothing hurt that floor, and that included 100 pound dogs running across it with their nails, dog/cat vomit, and water bowl dribbles from the dogs (they leave a lot more water slobber than cats).

Ask about the finish for the flooring and if it doesn't seem like it's sturdy enough for your needs, keep looking.
post #13 of 17
I have OLD (like from the 50s or something) oak hardwood floors in both bedrooms of my flat, and I only really have two main problems: They have scratched up the floor behind and on the side of my bed from where they run to get away from something. The other bedroom (aka the "cat's potty" lol) is where I have all the litterboxes (wonderful for guests ) and once and awhile Taylor gets the poopies and misses the litterbox a bit and I don't notice it right away, so when I do notice it it's all dried up and like stuck to the floor so I have to use a cleaner to get it off, therefore I need to be very careful which cleaner I get cuz I don't want to destroy those floors anymore than they already are (they're in the worst shape anyway, were like that when I moved in). I've never had a problem with hairballs. Then again, my cat's hairball throw up spots of choice are on my bed or on the carpet or couch in the living room (I think they do it b because they know it sets me off )
post #14 of 17
I have scratches in my hallway - right as you go into the living room from the cats peeling out there. Otherwise their claws haven't caused any damage. Newer finishes should be tougher, and better be for kitchen use - the ones intended for high traffic areas should have a aluminum oxide finish.

Yes, if cat barf is left on the floor for several hours it can cause some damage. I've found some hours later and it left a slight discoloration (I need to refinish everything eventually, anyways) but it's not very noticeable.

Find something like a large plastic storage container lid or a shallow enough container to put under the water. That would protect again small spills and some splashing.
post #15 of 17
We pulled out the carpet and refinished the floors in our house when we moved in about a year and a half ago. We have oak floors, and they are original to the house which was built in the '30s. I can't say enough good things about hard floors! If the cat hacks up a hairball or smears poo (yes, Nabu has off and on anal gland issues) all I do is clean up the spots with enzyme cleaner, then vacuum, and mop with Murphy's oil soap. Then the floor is clean, and I know it. Carpeting was awful to deal with when we rented. Any spots that have been there most of the day, I clean with the enzyme cleaner and follow with spray wood cleaner. I haven't had problems with spots forming because of that.

The cats have scratched the floors racing around, but it's in the polyurethane not the wood. As my in-laws said, it's going to get some scratches with use anyway. They have maple floors. They said their floors were actually really badly damaged from when they had dogs. Their cats didn't do that much over the years. I think the last time they refinished their floors was when my husband was a kid.

Our kitchen and bath have linoleum. I keep the cat's fountain and food dishes in the kitchen. We have wrought iron cat feeders (about $20 each at Shopko). Drinkwell just came out with place mats that are supposed to catch the water better. I'm thinking of getting one. Right now our Drinkwell is just on a place mat from the pet store with a ledge.
post #16 of 17
Batman was obsessed with playing with his water when he was younger, so I invested in a water hog mat from LL Bean:

It definitely keeps the floor dry! they also have placemats, etc.
post #17 of 17
I have hardwood floors with the kind of finish you're talking about. It's pretty tough stuff. Cat vomit won't hurt it. It's cat urine that might, but that would hurt practically anything. Carpet would be hurt way worse by vomit than hardwood would be. You're smart to get hard floors and replace carpet if you have pets, IMO. Fur, dander and other sheds from animals also tend to accumulate in carpets, but they are easily cleaned up off hardwood floors.
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