Is Vinegar Safe for Cats as a Household Cleaner?

Picture of a hairless cat

Some people like to use natural, everyday products as household cleaners, thinking that they are safer in the long run for their families (which, of course, includes their pets). If you are one of these people, you might be wondering if vinegar is safe for your cat, both as a household cleaner, and if they accidentally ingest it? Let’s examine the safety of vinegar for your furry feline friend.

What’s in White Vinegar?

White vinegar has long been known as an effective household cleaner with a variety of uses. This miracle ingredient, which smells strong to humans (and undoubtedly to cats, who tend to have more sensitive noses than we do) is made up of 5 to 10 percent acetic acid, and 90 to 95 percent water. Acetic acid comes from a fermentation process in which microorganisms consume and process ethanol (alcohol), creating vinegar. Vinegar can be made from anything that has alcohol in it – beer, wine, hard cider. White vinegar is made from a spirit that is distilled from grain.

Is Vinegar Safe as a Cleaning Product?

The short answer to this question is, absolutely! White vinegar is one of the safest and most natural non-toxic cleaning products that you can use. It is also green, cheap and does not expire, and will last, literally, forever. If you have cats and use vinegar to clean around your home, however, be aware that most cats will not like the smell of vinegar, and may run from you when you are using it to clean your home.

What Can I Use Vinegar to Clean?

Vinegar is great for cleaning walls and hard floors. Simply mix one part water and one part vinegar and apply this solution to walls and hard floors.

Mopping with vinegar is a great deterrent for fleas, bacteria, mold and germs. Some people swear by mopping the area around kitty’s litter box with a mixture of vinegar and water.

Vinegar is also perfect for cleaning kitty’s litter box. You can pour a half-inch of vinegar in the empty box, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then rinse and dry the box before refilling it with litter.

What Shouldn’t I Use Vinegar to Clean?

Vinegar should not be used to clean every surface in your home, as it can damage certain substances. Things you should avoid using vinegar to clean include (but are not limited to) soapstone, marble and granite countertops; some wood finishes; and some fabrics (check the label).

How Can I Use Vinegar to Clean Pet Messes?

Vinegar is the perfect solution to get cat urine smells out of furniture and fabrics. Because it is an acid, it tends to neutralize the alkaline salts that are produced in dried urine stains. Mix one part vinegar and one part water, put it in a spray bottle, and attack those dried urine stains! Vinegar is also great to freshen up areas that smell “catty,” leaving a nice, clean, fresh scent behind.

What Else Can I Use Vinegar for When It Comes to Cats?

Vinegar can also be used as a deterrent. If your cat tends to jump up and walk on kitchen counters, or digs at a door that you want to stay closed to try to get it open, spray vinegar around the “forbidden” area. The smell of the vinegar will deter your cat from engaging in this negative behavior.

Vinegar can be used to clean deposits out of pet food and water bowls. Make sure to rinse the bowls well with water after you clean them. Especially if you have a kitty fountain, the vinegar can help prevent lime deposits from building up.

When you are washing your cat’s bedding, you can use half a cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle. This will also help to prevent fleas in the bedding.

Can My Cat Ingest Vinegar Safely?

Cleaning your house with white vinegar

Since vinegar is safe to use around your cat as a cleaning product, you might be wondering if it’s safe for kitty to ingest it. The answer is yes, but only in small amounts. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar is all that a cat can safely ingest without causing problems with its stomach acidity and digestive system. Some humans view apple cider vinegar as a cure-all for many ailments, and even use it to aid their own weight loss. For kitty, however, it’s not the same. The acidity of vinegar can alter the acid in your cat’s stomach and damage it, even making prescription medication your cat might be taking fail to work properly (as it cannot be absorbed and processed normally).

Vinegar has also been touted as a repellant for fleas and ticks. This is true – it does repel them, but it will not keep them off of your cat for good, and will not get rid of fleas and ticks that are already on your cat. Additionally, most cats hate the taste of vinegar of any type and will avoid it, even if it’s added to their food or water – it’s such a strong taste (and smell) that adding vinegar to water or food can make kitty avoid eating or drinking, leading to further problems like weight loss and dehydration.

So, while apple cider vinegar might have benefits for humans, the same cannot be said when it comes to felines, despite what you might read on the internet. Veterinarians claim that not only does vinegar not have health benefits for cats, it might even cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Unless your veterinarian specifically instructs you to give vinegar to your cat, don’t do it. It’s too easy to give kitty too much and cause all sorts of problems.

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