Last week, I answered questions about cleaning up cat barf and about bird poop on artificial turf. By the way, I suffered a brain blip, and the area of grass is 4 feet, not 4 inches. Here are some thoughts from readers.

Cleaning barf

DEAR JOAN: I have another solution for all pet and human stains.

I use a tablespoon of powdered Oxyclean mixed into a one quart spray bottle of very hot water. The stain will vanish in front of your eyes. Vacuum up any powder left after it dries. Rarely do I need a second application.

Only mix as much as you need because once it cools off it doesn't work as well.


Little pet accidents don’t have to become big problems.
Little pet accidents don't have to become big problems. (Susan Jouflas/The Seattle Times)

San Ramon

DEAR JOAN: First of all if you own a cat you should only buy multicolor carpet.

This idea may sound weird but it has worked for me. Put a piece of paper towel lightly over the vomit. Then, crazy as this may seem, let it sit for two to three days to completely dry up. The moisture lifts off your carpet as it dries.

Then you just pick up the dry stuff and vacuum the spot thoroughly. If a little stain remains then use a pet stain spot remover. The paper towel is only there to mark the spot so you don't step on it.

Yvonne Moss


Bird poo on turf


DEAR JOAN: Remove the artificial turf under and near the tree and plant very low water plants around the tree.

B. Monte

Bay Area

DEAR JOAN: Why not remove the artificial turf in a ring around the tree that includes the area that the birds poop on?

This zone around the tree could be mulched with shredded bark, a natural material that would absorb the poop and recycle it into fertilizer for the tree. A positive win for birds, tree and humans.

Tricia Christopher


I also had a letter from River Otter Ecology about my answer on keeping otters off a dock.

DEAR JOAN: Why work so hard to keep them off the dock? I doubt the dog repellent would work. It would be really annoying to people using the dock, and incredibly expensive to soak towels in repellent every day. Hanging them on lines around the dock sounds pretty unworkable.

The otters would probably enjoy playing and scatting on the towels, as they love to pile up lines on docks and scat on them, as well as on vegetation they pile up. The dog repellent is a nutty idea.

Instead, just do what most people do and spray the feces off with a hose.

If I absolutely had to keep them off a dock, I would try covering the sides and the edges of the dock, about a foot or so in, with a very slick material that otters can't get their claws into, like foundation block.

I'm not sure it would work, but seems a better bet than the towel method.

Mating season starts at the beginning of March, two weeks after the first births occur, which tends to be mid-February and onward in these latitudes.

Please ask people to report otter sightings to our citizen science Otter Spotter program, through our website,

Megan Isidore

River Otter Ecology Project

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