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Kitty & Bleach

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I wasn't sure where to put this, but behavior seemed appropriate so here it goes. My purr baby Buttons has a really odd fettish - she loves the smell of bleach or any cleaner with bleach. Whenever I am cleaning with it, (I don't do this often, only when I absolutely have to because I have always been told that cats are extremely sensitive to bleach) within a couple of minutes, she is right on top of me, rubbing me and trying to get as close to my hands as possible. I thought this was so odd so I tested out the other cats. I took one of my hands, with the residue still on it, and tried to approach them but they backed away like I had approached them with the most vile odor in the world. I did the same with Buttons but she just wanted to rub all over my hand (of course I didn't let her)!!!! I really don't understand this, I told my vet once and he just looked at me like I was wierd. I have to be really careful when I am cleaning because when I was cleaning the bathtub once I hadn't realized she was in the bathroom and she was rubbing on the bottle I had set on the floor next to me!!! To keep her safe, a couple of years ago I just started closing her in another room whenever I am cleaning. Has anyone else experienced anything similar to something like this?
post #2 of 17
Hmmmm....that is too odd! I can't wait to hear what others say about it.
post #3 of 17
I don't think I've ever heard of anything like that! I've heard of some cats liking the smell of ammoniaa but that's because it smells like the bottom of their litter box!
Some cats just tend to have odd behaviour and mannerisms though. When I was younger I had a cat who used to like to eat vaseline and buttons. You couldn't leave vaseline or anything with buttons in reach of this cat. The vet said it was a type of neurotic behaviour that cats can sometimes express.
I'm not sure there's an explanation for this (no different I guess than the fact that some humans like the smell of gas), I'm glad to hear that you're actively keeping her away from it though. Bleach and cleaning problems can be very dangerous to kitty.
post #4 of 17
Yes, I have two cats in my pride that want to roll on the floor or rub against the bleach bottle when I mop. Another cat has tried to get at the mop water and drink it! I have to take real precautions to keep these particular cats from really coming into contact with bleach, and I always mop with water after I mop the floor with my homemade disinfectant. One of my youngest cats was so excited when he first came, he fell into the mop bucket. I was in shock for a while, wondering if he was going to die from it. After than he fell into the bathtub (which gets the runoff water from the washing machine, fell into the kitchen sink into the detergent-filled basin there, and also fell into the toilet. I do not know what this passion for water and/or detergents and bleach means, but my vet, also is confused and perhaps a little sceptical. I named the cat Neptune, because he clearly is drawn to falling into anything that has an inch or more of water in it!
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Catspride, I can't believe you have the same problem too. When I have told other people in person they think I'm crazy or something!!! Thanks for sharing your story. It may sound silly but it makes me feel like I'm not alone on this issue now!! Thanks!!
post #6 of 17
I have had so many cats pass through my house and care that I have observed a great deal of eccentric behaviors. The thing is that there is clearly a lot of variety in cat personalities and behavior --much, much more than the text books would have us believe -- that is apparently perfectly within norms. I am blessed with vets who usually caution me to watch and observe, stressing "any unusual behavior" instead of quoting so-called "normal" behavior at me. I am constantly learning, and so are they.

I love this forum, because it reinforces a Dr. Spock attitude toward rearing and relating to cats -- a more laid back and less hysterical approach to unusual behavior. From greater confidence, I can maintain greater calm -- and one thing that all the cats so far have had in common is that they become calmer when "mommy" keeps her own calm and doesn't start running around bewailing and hysterical. Their world seems to settle down to something approaching normal even when they are in terrible pain or very frightened, if "mommy" keeps her soothing voice and body language quiet.
post #7 of 17
When I am working on getting a tough stain off my floor in the cat room, I have to bleach it up, then rub it completely dry. Otherwise several of the cats will come in and start rubbing their face all over the area where the bleach was. I also have to make sure and put the mop up even after it is rinsed throughly. if I leave it with the mophead down, the cats will go and curl up in the mop and rub rub rub. I have no idea why, I just thought I had weird cats!
post #8 of 17
What we need is some clever, cat-loving chemist who will isolate the specific attractant of toxic materials in various cleaning agents and discover an additive to neutralize the (to cats) lovely odor. At the same time, they might come up with odors that repel (--ones that were cat-spepcific and would not annoy or smell badly to people). I would imagine that someone inventive could interest all the various cat product manufacturers in such discoveries. Then we could have a bleach or strong disinfectants that might repel rather than attract our cats.

Babies have also been known to be attracted by bleach and other cleansers -- why else do we baby-proof our houses? Do you think that maybe babies, being closer to the primate brains as birth, experience this same euphoric urge that cats have?

I hope to live to see disinfectants, pesticides, and cleaning solvents and other products that are not dangerous to animals, people, and the environment by making them biodegradable, very specific to the problems at hand, and totally unattractive to animals of all kinds.

Wouldn't that be a better world?

---Although I guess I can see the flip side -- gene-specific diseases meant to wipe out all humans (or other animals) at birth with a gene for criminal tendencies, alcoholism, or various kinds of deformaties...
post #9 of 17
That is so weird. When I wash my kitchen floor with bleach & water they take off. I wonder what some cats smell in it that attracts them so much?
post #10 of 17
I had just recently bought a book on how to toilet train your cat. Even if you don't go through with it,it gives you a lot of background info on what a cat is and some of the behaviors that go with them. It was really interesting and I learned a lot about cats that I never even considered before. I suggest reading it. Anyhow.... one part talks about the scents that they like and the scents that repulse them. The author says that while cats will not go near chemical smells, they love the fresh scent of chlorine in things such as laundry or plain bleach. The book goes on to say that this is a logical explination of why a lot of cats like to sleep in the hamper/laundry basket, or the clothes dryer ( very dangerous ). I hope that helps
post #11 of 17
Thank you -- but the toilet-training book doesn't tell us WHY cats are attracted to chlorine. I am warned by my vet not to put more than a third to a half cup into a mop bucket, and if I am using more, I banish all the cats (and dogs as well) from the house until I have done everything over with a wet-mop.

In another thread, Dodo was able to discover that rosemary has a similar chemical component to catnip, which begins to explain why my cats are so crazy about rolling in the fallen needles and flowers of the rosemary bushes in my garden (in particular when lots of flowers are being shed). Or when I use rosemary oil on my exposed skin (ankles, feet (if I am wearing sandels), arms and back of my hands, exposed neck areas when I am working in the garden. The oil repels flies and mosquitoes, and in the summer when the flies are breeding, it is miserable to work outside -- especially if is is hot and I sweat...! Rosemary oil is a miracle, and even if one smells a little like a Greek salad dressing, it is really worth it. So when I "wear" my rosemary shield, the cats are all over me, rubbing on my legs and arms, begging to be held, behaving like kittens instead of dignified grownups.

I also use it as a cover for cuts and scrapes for both myself and the animals until proper healing has done its work.

But rosemary and its oil is not toxic and chlorine is.

Cats are usually pretty wise about staying away from bad smells -- especially smells that denote things that can burn their mouths or make them sick (or dead). We should put our heads together and try to find a behavioral therapy to make the cats shy off. Any brilliant ideas?

By the way, an old veterinarian trick when I was growing up was to put a small amount of chlorine in the drinking water of horses, cows, and dogs -- as part of the overall treatment -- if they had distemper or common respiratory problems or viruses (which we didn't know much about in those days). It never hurt these animals, although I have no empirical evidence that it helped, either.

But chlorine is definitely bad for cats!
post #12 of 17
Chlorine is used in the treatment of our tap waters..Especially if the water source isn't a very clean/good one..I think putting chlorine in animals' water was a good thing to do in the disinfection of the water..You know water is the habitat of many disease causing microorganisms !

I have once read that some cats don't like the chlorine scent in their drinking water so one should leave the water overnight & give it next day..

Well, unlike rosemary I couldn't find much about bleach other than the following:

To make bleach, first they take salt water & break it into its components; sodium hydroxide (also called caustic soda or lye), hydrogen & chloride. Then they take sodium hydroxide & add chlorine & water into it. The result is sodium hypochlorite; that is bleach ! As bleach reacts with stains and stuff, it turns back into salt water again..

There seems to be nothing in bleach to attract cats ?? The only thing that comes to my mind is if the bleach has some parfume/scent in it ! You know there are some artifically scented bleach for people who don't like it's scent ??..Or the cat may lack sodium and or chloride in its diet (salt is made of sodium & chloride) & if these chemicals have a specific scent that we can't smell they may like the smell of bleach because of this ?? I for example like my food very salty ! And this is a sign your body tries to tell that you actually need salt -for most cases ! (sodium & chloride are very much used in cell processes !) Just a stupid theory ???

Well catspride, how about conditioning water spraying with bleach scent ?? At a leisure time ( I mean when not mobbing the floors ) some bleach could be put in a glass or something. Then you can call the cat & let her smell the bleach for a minuscule time & then spray him with water gun or spray etc. If you do this several times, I'm sure he'll associate the smell of bleach with water spray & will run away next time he comes next to a bleach scent ??
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

You mentioned some interesting theories that I think are worth investigation and research. I am absolutely stumped as to why some cats are absolutely repelled by the scent and others act as if it's an aphrodisiac! I really think some veterinarian or someone should look into this because God forbid anything happen to one of our furbabies! We are all good mommies (especially good on how we handle this) but we all now that things can happen we have no control over. Well, I did some light searching on the internet on the topic but I couldn't find anything. I will do a more detailed search this week.
post #14 of 17
This is great. Thanks Dodo, for provocative extrapolation of the few facts we really know. I can't spend any browsing tme this week, since I have a day-and-night work load to the end of the week, and a very dear friend and her son visiting Israel for a few weeks. But I will try to contact all the internet vet sites and see if one of the ones who talk back will consider the problem.

Surely SOMEONE should know!? But really, I think there are very few good studies on the nuts and bolts of cats. A lot about the big cats (tigers and lions, etc.) in the wild, but these researchers don't have to do studies of big cats in terms of bleach, since it isn't all that available in the African jungles!

On the other hand, if I were one of those who are beginning to compare big cats, smaller wild cats, and the domestic varieties for behavioral similarities, I would be really turned on by the idea of pursuing any similarities between big and smaller cats and the chemicals and plants they can encounter. So maybe a question to the film section of National Geographic (which has some very interesting documentary evidence on behavior or cats of all sizes), or zoo keepers (where chlorine might have been a problem because of its effective disinfectant use)...????

Thank you so much Dodo and Sfell for picking up the ball on this.

By the way, something else weird -- one of my dogs started to roll on a blanket I had used to protect the table when I spot-sprayed one of the cats with FrontLine -- the primary vet-recommended flea spray in Israel. He acted just like the cats do to rosemary. Now my eyes are open to this behavior, I begin to see more of it among my family. The cats, however, were not especially attracted to the blanket.
post #15 of 17
The bleach is not a problem in my home - but I cannot wear Bengay for sore muscles without 4 out of my 6 trying to eat me up!
post #16 of 17
I also have one cat that goes nuts for bleach. I have to keep it away from her rhe best I can. I have had to lock her in the bedroom while I clean. She will follow me everywhere and try to get as close to it as she can. I use it to wash out the litterboxes too and she always wants to jump into the litter pan while I am cleaning it. This is why she gets sent to the bedroom until I am done. I would not want her to get sick from the bleach if she did get into it.
post #17 of 17
BenGay has menthol and camphor in it and not much else that I know of. It has been around since my grandmother's time, and I use it also for my aches and pains. I will have to test out the cats on it. This is actually an interesting subject, mainly because I have never seen a list of things that attract or repulse cats or dogs. Did someone say they had such a list (but that rosemary wasn't on it)??

I am going to start a table incorporating what we have all said about chlorine, rosemary, etc. just in a statistical way so we can compare things. The rosemary and catnip turned out to be easy, thanks to Dodo.
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