Tips to Keep Cats Safe During Construction

Today I thought Sneakers was going to have a heart attack from all the stress of scary loud noises.  Now, normally my poor cat stresses out over small things like the doorbell ringing, the sound of the front door opening, men’s voices, or the lack of dry food in his bowl. Today though, he had serious things to freak out. We are having our front porch torn up and done. Which means loud jackhammers that hurt the ears and shake the very foundation of the house.  My poor Sneakers was understandably upset.  Had I known with more advanced notice that the house would be shaken up like this, I might have taken Sneakers to the also terrifying vet’s to board for the day.  At least it would have been quieter there (and had the double benefit of exposure therapy!).

This has not been the first work we have had done on our house this year. A few weeks ago we had our kitchen counters torn out and replaced, new tiles laid and rooms painted. Sneakers, of course, was petrified by everything. Crash, being the senile old man that he is, was mostly oblivious to the work beyond the fact that it meant his food bowl had to be moved.  The first day the workers came–people who have done work on our house before–they propped the back door open so they could bring their tools in, the counter tops out.  We were unaware they would be propping doors open. Sneakers was off hiding somewhere at the first sound of the doorbell and men’s voices so we knew he was safely secured under a bed. Much to our surprise though, Crash was found wandering around the deck checking out the flowers and the fresh air.

All this just goes to point out that you can’t be  too careful when it comes to your cats and construction workers. Make sure you take appropriate steps to keep your pets safe and secure when you have workers coming in to your house.

  • If possible lock your cats in a separate room with food, water and a litter box (or boxes, depending on number of cats and amount of time in the room). Locking your cats up helps them stay out of the way of the workers and any dangerous tools or chemicals involved in the job. It also keeps your cat in one spot. It is much easier for me to hunt down Sneakers hiding spot if I am looking in one or two rooms as opposed to looking through the whole house. You don’t want to risk Kitty getting out the door like Crash did, playing with a tray of paint (as Crash almost did) or getting stepped on by a worker carrying something  heavy (yep, this was Crash too).
  • Put toys, a cat perch or their favorite bed in the room with them. If your cats are young and bold they will need something to keep them distracted from that big closed door. If your cats are like mine, they will just hide under furniture or go take a nap. Either way, it is good to have them safe and secure. If your cat is a hider, make she she has a “safe” place to hide that you can easily remove her from, should need arise.
  • Even locked up, away from the front line of construction your cat is going to be stressed. Whether they are stressed from the smells and sounds of construction or just from being locked in a safe room, or a combination of both, will depend on your cat.
  • As such, try to reduce any extra stress by keeping to your daily routine as much as possible. Feed them when you normally feed them, spend your evening watching TV or browsing your laptop in the room with them.  In general you want to try to spend as much time with your cats as possible while they are confined in this stressful time.
  • Some people have suggested leaving a radio or television on as white noise for your cats while you are gone and while the construction is going on.
  • Make sure the workers know your animals are in that room and not to open the door.
  • Keep your cats safely locked up until all the work is done–or at least until all the dangers are out of the way. Remember this is as much to protect your cat from herself as it is to protect her from careless construction workers.
  • If you are unable to keep your cat locked safely away or are having something done with dangerous fumes, contact your veterinarian’s office. If they don’t offer boarding  they should know a good place for Kitty to hang out for a day or two.

Years ago we had the floors redone in our house. The cats lived in the (furnished) basement for several days. Us humans who had a little more sense than to walk where there was no floor were able to go upstairs and use the kitchen. The final touch was a finishing coat on the wood, which meant most of the house was off limits because of fumes. The workers told us the basement was safe enough, so the cats stayed there and my parents rented a hotel room. Being the crazy cat mom I am, I slept in the basement with my cats that night. As awkward as it was—the futon was HORRIBLY uncomfortable, and it was ridiculously dark down there–I know the cats appreciated it. Crash and Sam were snuggled on top of me all night, while Muffin slept in the chair closest to me.  Your cats might not act like they appreciate it, but trust me they do.

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