Ask Martha: How to handle anxious cats, yarn scraps and more.
A: Most cats are nervous about any change in their environment, so it’s important to help them acclimate to a new one. On moving day, keep your pet in an empty room with food, water, a litter box and an open carrier, and tape a note to the door letting the movers know not to enter it. Then, as you’re settling in, set up a safe, quiet room in your new place, and use a spray like Comfort Zone Feliway Diffuser Kit ($37, amazon.com), which mimics the scent of natural pheromones, to get your cat comfortable and help prevent her from urinating outside her litter box. When she’s ready to explore, keep an eye on her — moving her back to the safe space if she displays naughty behavior, like scratching — and place a second litter box somewhere nearby.
Q: I have a basket full of yarn scraps. How do I keep them from tangling? — Mary Beth Smith, Conneaut, Ohio
A: Use this trick. Extend the thumb and pinkie of one hand, and hold down one end of the piece with your three interior fingers. Then wrap the strand around your thumb and pinkie in a figure-eight pattern, crisscrossing with each turn. With several inches of yarn left, wrap the free end around the center of the figure eight several times, and tuck it into the wrap. Pull to tighten. This method also works well for electrical cords and earbuds.
Q: How are eco dry cleaners different from traditional ones? — Jake Miller, Laredo, Texas
A: Most traditional dry cleaning is done with tetrachloro-ethylene, also known as PERC — which is classified by the EPA as a likely carcinogen in high concentrations, but is still legal. (You should remove plastic covers from clothing cleaned this way, then air them out for a few days.) “Green” cleaners generally use one of two alternative methods: wet cleaning, which washes garments with small amounts of water and nontoxic detergents; or liquid carbon dioxide, which distributes biodegradable soaps through clothes via pressurized machinery (and usually costs more). Do your research, as the terms are not regulated, and ask whether clothes are cleaned on-site, since contracted cleaners may not be eco-friendly.
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