If there was a feline equivalent to the human Holmes and Rahe stress scale, which ranks 43 stressful events that can contribute to illness, I’d guess that home improvement projects are at the top of the feline list of stressors. Not only are cats creatures of habit, and any change to their home environment, even something as minor as moving a piece of furniture, can cause stress. Home improvement projects come with noise, upheaval, potentially harmful tools and chemicals, representing just about everything a cat does not want to deal with.

If you’re planning  home improvement or remodeling projects, there are things you can do to minimize stress on your cats.

Designate a safe room

This should be a quiet room, as far away from the construction noise as you can get. Put beds, food, water, toys, and cat trees and scratchers in the room. You may want to get your cats used to staying in this room a few days before construction begins so they associate it with something pleasant. Leave a radio or tv on in the room, this may act as white noise and block out some of the construction sounds.

Put a “DO NOT ENTER” sign on the door, so that it’s clear to construction workers that the room is off limits. Depending on how clever your cats are about opening closed doors, you may need to put a lock on the door that locks from the outside.

Go into the room during the day periodically and spend time with your cats. Play with them, or just sit and read a book. Even if your cat is hiding inside the safe room, she will still be comforted by your presence.

Try to keep your normal routine as much as possible

Get up at the same time, feed the cats at the same time, play with them at the same times as you normally would. Feed them the same food, and maybe increase treats a little during this time.

Minimize smells and fumes

Cats sense of smell is far more sensitive than ours, and paint fumes and other construction smells will affect them even more than they affect us. Leave windows open (make sure that screens are secure) or use fans to keep the air circulating.

Clean up after construction workers

If you let your cats out of their safe room overnight while the project is going on, do a safety check first. While contractors may clean up before they leave for the end of the day, they won’t clean up with your cats in mind. Look for any nails, sharp objects, strings or other items that could harm your cats. Clean up spilled chemicals or paint so your cats can’t walk through them.

Don’t leave your cats unattended during a remodeling project

I’ve heard of cat guardians who went on vacation while their home was being remodeled and left the cats in the care of a cat sitter. Not a good idea, in my opinion. Even though cats usually do better  when left with a cat sitter rather than being boarded, if you must travel during a constructinon project, boarding them may be a safer, and less stressful option.

Holistic remedies can help minimize stress

My go to remedy for any stressful situations is Stress Stopper – I even take it myself! I’ve also used Composure Calming Treats with some success (for the cats, not for me!).

I’ve been known to postpone or avoid remodeling projects altogether to avoid stressing out my cats. Yes, there are things I’d like to redo in my home, but Allegra and Ruby get pretty stressed even if they have to be locked into a safe room fora couple of hours when a service person is in the house. I just dont’ want to put them through that kind of stress for days on end unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Have you had any home improvement projects done? How did your cats handle the disruption?

17 Comments on Keep Your Cat Safe During Home Improvement Projects

  1. I have two 8 year old cats and I must go through repiping of my small 1 bedroom condo. One kitty is extremely sensitive to change and terrified of noise and strangers. Terrified. the first 3 days will be very noisy- cutting into plaster. Do you think it is better to stay home from work and stay with them- in the bathroom are with them- they rest in the closet there- so it is a friendly place- or would it be better, less stressful for them to go to the vet and be in a cage? I’m really worried about this. After the initial bad noisy days they will be in and out for 3 weeks which is a cat nightmare- HELP.

    • That’s a tough situation, DD. I would probably plan on staying home with them during those first 3 days, but have a reservation at your vet’s ready if you need it. You’ll know after the first day (or even the first few hours) how they’re doing, and you’ll be able to decide whether they might be better off boarding at the vet’s for the remainder of the noisy period.

      During the three weeks when the workers will be in and out, I’d make sure that they’re closed off in a bedroom that the workers won’t go in and out of. If that’s not an option, you may want to invest in a large crate, unless you’re really comfortable that workers won’t let your cats out of the condo.

      I would highly encourage you to use Stress Stopper on both cats during the entire period. In addition to rubbing it on their fur three or four times a day, you can also spray the area you’re keeping them in.

      I hope this helps – all my best to you and your kitties!

  2. Ruby, you always look cute to us. Thanks for those great points about renovating. Luckily that doesn’t happen around here. Thanks for reminding us of Venus’s name. We think Splitters should be famous too. LOL. Thanks Ingrid.

  3. Ruby the Renovator?

    I’ve never had trouble visualizing what accidents could happen. In fact, I have a hard time stopping the visualizations, so the safe room is planned and ready before anything starts. And I only hire cat-friendly people when I’m not doing the work myself.

    • Doesn’t she look adorable with her little pink hard hat and purple toolbox, Bernadette?

      I wish I had any talent when it comes to remodeling. Doing the work yourself is probably the safest way to go about it. Finding cat-friendly contractors could be challenging.

  4. All wonderful tips! Thanks for the ideas! We are getting ready to redo our floors and I’m sure honey and booba will apprecaite mommy being well versed in how to care for them during the time!

  5. I performed a kitchen remodel, and provided a safe place for Mitzy during the process. She “seemed” to handle the construction well in her safe place. During the month following the completion of the remodel, I noticed that Mitzy’s hair on her belly was thinning, and then as time passed I noticed that her belly was completed bare of hair. It took me awhile to figure out that Mitzy was licking the hair from her belly, and likely a stress reaction to the remodel and the changes in the household. After realizing her stress, I provided extra assurance and care, then she eventually halted the excessive licking/grooming. By all other outward appearances (except for the lack of hair on her belly!), Mitzy appeared to acclimate well to the changes (changes were minor in nature to me). But, inwardly, it was apparent that Mitzy struggled to accommodate even minor (to me) changes.

  6. Thanks so much Ingrid….perfect timing once again. Very good pointers. Reading this does confirm that I’m a pretty good mommy (you could have written my check list, down to the Stress Stopper).
    Day two in progress…..poor little Abby : (

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