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posted: 4/24/2014 4:15 PM

How to keep cats safe when working on house projects

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  • Zeke

    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

  • Rascal

    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

By Mary Hayashi

Have you been putting off a house/room project that requires remodeling or a specific clean up?

Are you ready to begin, but do not know how to start for fear of placing your feline in jeopardy?

Your concerns are well-founded. Your project can hold hidden dangers for your feline that are not readily apparent to you.

Our felines have access to virtually any area they wish to explore because of their agile jumping ability. Further, our felines are very crafty about sneaking outdoors when foot traffic is unusually heavy.

Denying our feline buddies access to the project area is the only way to keep them safe. It is difficult enough to watch our felines when we are doing the work alone or with the help of family members. The problem is compounded when outsiders are hired for a project.

Workers try to watch out for our pets, but they are not motivated by the love we have for our animals to keep them safe. Additionally, we may not be able to predict our pet's behavior when there are strangers in the house. Noise and commotion may send our pet to the nearest exit door.

Confining your feline to the spare bedroom, study or bathroom is the only effective way your animal is safe from toxins, unsafe building materials and their natural by products. Glue, paint, nails, screws, sawdust and metal shavings are just a few of the hazards that could prompt a visit to the emergency room, veterinary clinic after hours.

Even if you confine your pet, depending on the location of the project, in relation to your central ventilation system, your pets may still not be safe. If you are using an especially pungent adhesive or paint near the ventilation system, make sure windows and doors are open near the work site to allow fumes to escape.

Further, the blower should be off so the fumes are not spread throughout the house. Also be sure to secure plastic over the vent in the room where the animals will be kept. A window should be open where the pets are located, as long as the screens cannot be pushed out by our agile felines.

To also assure that the fumes do not seep into your pet's safe haven, block the space between the floor and the door with a towel.

Care should also be taken during the cleanup process to properly vacuum and remove all unsafe debris. Do remember to clean behind all the crevices our felines crawl behind.

The floor should also be dry after cleanup before our felines are allowed access. Felines are fastidious and are constantly grooming and licking their paws. If you have any doubts about the toxicity of the products used in the room the final cleaning rinse should be with water and vinegar. Other old, nontoxic cleaners are Simple Green and Meyers products. Both are animal friendly and are found conveniently in big box stores. There are many new green choices available also. Some not so tested, so use caution.

Lastly, the room may be physically clean and safe, but if the lingering odor of glue or paint make you lightheaded or dizzy, pets must be confined. The process you have just labored through to ensure their safety would be for naught if you allow them in the remodeled room while the toxic scent lingers.

Featured felines

• Rascal, is a black and white 5-year-old domestic female. Rascal is a very nice cat, shy at first, but once she gets to know you loves to be petted. She has been at Buddy for a while and needs a forever home.

• Zeke is a 10-year-old front paw declaw. He is a gray and white domestic short hair. He was left outside to fend for himself, imagine that. He is still very friendly and would make anyone a great pet.

• The Buddy Foundation is a nonprofit (501c3), all volunteer, no-kill animal shelter dedicated to the welfare of stray, abused and abandoned cats and dogs. For more information, call (847) 290-5806 or visit