Cleaning Guidelines



*If latex allergies are an issue, medical-grade rubber gloves or another alternative must be worn when cleaning.

*No jewellery or nail extensions are to be worn.

Mechanically remove gross organic matter by scooping feces, dumping litter and food, sweeping and/or rinsing with plain water. This still leaves behind caked on debris, such as dried-on feces, dirt, and saliva.

Clean using a detergent/soap product and mechanical scrubbing with a rag, paper towel, brush, etc. This still leaves behind a film of potentially harmful microorganisms.

Disinfect using a germicidal product effective against whatever harmful agents are likely to be present. For areas that are not heavily soiled, in some cases steps two and three can be combined if a product is used that has both disinfectant and detergent qualities.

A Thorough Cleaning Done Routinely, or as Rooms are Emptied and Prior to Disinfection, Includes:
  • Cages should be cleaned and scrubbed with a detergent (e.g. Sunlight).
  • Pay careful attention to scrubbing cracks around gates and where wall meets floor
  • Doors, areas around light switches, hose handles and any other frequently handled areas should also be cleaned.

We are the Greatest Source of Fomites in the Cat’s Environment

light bulb iconRemember! Cat cage cleaning must proceed in the following order:

  1. Adoptable kittens
  2. Adoptable cats
  3. Stray kittens
  4. Stray cats
  5. Quarantine
  6. Isolation

In Isolation or whenever handling sick cats, gloves must be changed between handling each cat. In Observation or Quarantine room change gloves between each cat, or disinfect gloves between each cat using Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide or potassium peroxymonosulfate (NOT alcohol-based hand sanitizers).

stop sign iconCleaning is Very Stressful for Cats. To Minimize Stress to the Cats, Spot Cleaning will be Used Whenever the Cage is not Heavily Soiled (E.G. Spilled Litter, Feces or Urine Outside of Litter Box, Spilled Water).

To reduce stress during spot cleaning:

  • Open and close cage doors quietly.
  • The inside of the cage is wiped down of any evident organic matter or stains. The litter box is removed and replaced with a fresh one, the food and water bowls are replaced. The bedding and toys may be shaken to remove any dust and then replaced back in the cage (the “fluff and fold” approach). The bedding is only replaced if it is soiled and unhygienic.
  • It is imperative to maintain as much of the cat’s “presence” (such as their scent) as possible, and not overwhelm them with disinfection smells.
  • An Ontario SPCA Cat Cabin (or Hide, Perch & Go box™ or feral cat box) is a great option to provide the cat a hiding place while you clean. It also will maintain their scent and does not need to be replaced unless soiled or destroyed.
  • Another option, to provide hiding, is a small cat box with a door such as the “Feral Cat Den” made of Plexiglas or other easily cleaned material, placed inside cage. These boxes are cleaned thoroughly between cats. This is often used in feral cat housing areas, but can be effective for tame cats as well, and has the added advantage of giving every cat a cozy place to hide.

Cleaning for Cat Cages

Cats should be spot cleaned whenever possible and if not dealing with outbreaks of disease (eg. URI, Coccidia, Panleukopenia), this is the method of choice. Spot cleaning is less stressful for the cat and will usually result in less disease. Spot cleaning done correctly also saves time, reduces disinfection cost and chemical use, and lowers potential for staff injury. This is appropriate for healthy cats and sick cats including those with URI. Exceptions would include those infected with pathogens of significant concern for environmental contamination (e.g. Ringworm, Panleukopenia).

This Cat Cage Cleaning Protocol Includes Methods for both Spot Cleaning and Full Cage Cleaning

Always open and close cage doors quietly!

Have an Ontario SPCA Cat Cabin, or alternative hiding place in the cage where possible (cat carrier, donut boxes, paper bags, colanders and dish pans have been used in shelters for this purpose)

Clean gently around cat:

  • Brush out spilled litter
  • Do not spray disinfectant around cat – spray disinfectant on the paper towel or clean rag first, away from cats face, then use this to wipe cage
  • Wipe walls (important to remove nasal discharge from day to day to permit monitoring); no need to rinse if disinfectant or mild detergent used at correct dilution
  • Remove and replace water and food dishes with new ones
  • Replace litter pan (prepare fresh litter and dump soiled litter away from cats if possible)

Leave bedding with cat unless heavily soiled or cat has serious infection. Full clean only after cat leaves cage permanently or when cage is heavily soiled.

Have a few carriers available for litters of kittens or cats that need to be removed to clean heavily soiled cages (clean and disinfect carriers between uses).

Hand Hygiene, Washing/Sanitizing

stop sign iconSee handwashing procedure

  • Hand hygiene is frequently identified as the number one means of preventing disease spread.
  • Hands should be washed or sanitized after each animal is handled.
  • Hand washing mechanically removes even those pathogens that are not easily inactivated by chemical disinfectants.
  • Gloves are the most reliable method of preventing contamination and can be disinfected between cats.
  • Gloves are required when dealing with pathogens such as: Parvovirus, Panleukopenia and Ringworm.
  • Gloves may need to be changed before handling every new animal in special circumstances such as on Intake.
  • Remember that gloves should still be worn in multi-cat rooms (even in adoption areas) but may only need to be changed between rooms.
  • We should also remember that when working with animals our arms and clothing may also have close contact with animals, so hand hygiene alone is insufficient.

Waste Management

Proper waste management and disposal plays a crucial role in preventing the spread of disease and illness within an environment.

  • There should be a designated garbage receptacle in each room to prevent cross-contamination of any potential illness/disease from room to room.
  • The garbage bag must always be sealed before leaving the room. This will ensure the contents are contained and prevent any potential infectious exposure during transport to the dumpster.
  • The garbage bag should be changed and replaced when it is full, the contents have an odour (ie. urine, feces, vomit), and/or at the end of a full cleaning of the room.
  • The garbage receptacle must be located near the exit door of the room. This will allow for proper disposal of any PPE and eliminate travel through a “dirty” room to dispose of an item.
  • Sealed garbage bags must be taken directly to the dumpster once they have been removed from the room.
  • Spray the inside of the garbage receptacle with disinfectant.

Contaminated Biological Waste:

Biohazard / biomedical waste refers to any material having the risk of carrying pathogens which can potentially harm humans.

  • A biomedical box lined with a yellow bio-medical bag must be placed in all areas where bio-hazardous materials exist.
  • Medication bottles, vaccine vials, used syringes (not sharps), go into the biomedical box.
  • Biomedical boxes are disposed of according to hazardous waste regulations as per the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
  • Gloves, gowns and impermeable shoe covers may be disposed of in the garbage

For Safe Sharps Handling click here.

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