What to do with my Cats during Painting and renovations

Contractors need to be mindful of cats during Painting and renovations. Interior painting projects especially can be very difficult and disruptive to the family routine. It can be even more stressful for your pets, especially for cats. Cats are curious and can often get themselves into trouble for being just that. It’s a good idea to discuss your pets and any concerns you might have with the contractor before any painting starts.

Karon is the painting estimator for Ecopainting and she is usually the first one to meet the family pets: “Sometimes it is difficult to miss the cats in the house as they are curious creatures and will appear eventually. They all have different personalities of course and introduce themselves differently. Once there was a cat that wouldn’t stop playing with my bag zipper and wouldn’t let me close it. In another house there were three extra curious cats that kept taking turns coming to meet me, but separately throughout the estimate. I make it a point to discuss the pet situation with the customer, then I can make notes for the crew. Sometimes these notes accompany the work order & colour schedule in the job folder”

Cat Stressing During Renovation

Being a creature of habit, cats are easily disturbed. They are very much aware of everything within their territory and can become quite stressed when they sense something new going on. You might have noticed that anything new you bring into your home, whether it be a sofa, or an ornamental piece, it will likely be inspected by your cat. Even a new arrangement of furniture within a room can be disturbing to them. Think about all the activity that takes place when you would be painting your home. Your cat will see new faces, hear all sorts of unfamiliar sounds and scents, new voices, which, to a cat, can be quite alarming, depending on the tone. Ladders and paints coming into their territory and furniture being moved around….it’s chaos for a cat, how is your cat going to react?

Knowing your cat and how he/she would react in a stressful situation would definitely help you to decide if your cat would be alright to stay at home during a renovation project, or if it would be better to have a friend take care of him/her or maybe a kennel or cat motel. You also have to keep in mind that cats don’t take too well to moving about from place to place and prefer to stay in their own environment, where they are comfortable. Your cat can become stressed in so many situations, moving, new people in your home, family gatherings, neighbourhood construction, babies, other cats that can be seen outside, sudden noises and so on. You might find your cat behaves differently when faced with a stressful situation so you want to do your best to minimize the impact as best you can.

Paint Fumes Affecting Cats

When taking on a painting project, your cat, as well as yourself and your family, will benefit from using zero VOC paint products. We suggest Aura eggshell from Benjamin Moore. Zero VOC paints are virtually odourless. If you are using a low VOC paint, which will most likely have low odour, a fan will help with ventilation and will circulate the air to eliminate some of the disturbing fumes.

Keeping your cat away from the freshly painted area is a good idea, maybe even until the area has been put back in order. Although your cat will still be curious as to what is taking place, it will help to keep that cute little nose out of paint, which can look much like milk to a cat, and keep paws from getting paint on them and tracking paint through the house.

Plastic, loose cords, paints and other dangers

When a cat is part of your family, the safety of your cats during Painting and renovations is paramount. Cat-proofing the environment, as you would baby proof an environment, should be considered at all times. Things to look for, would be loose nails/screws, chemicals and other items, that your cat could smell, eat, or lick. Cats, being territorial, like to sprawl out on painters drop cloths and show the painter who’s boss. This can be very cute, but also harmful to the cat, who might get some spilled paint, from the drop cloth, onto their fur or skin and then try to lick it off.

Cats also like to climb on ladders, it’s something new for them and they seem to jump onto ladders quite quickly. Loose hanging cords from blinds can be very dangerous for cats. It looks like string to them, and seeing how they love to play with string, they will surely make attempts to have some fun with any long cord that might be hanging down. We don’t want to think about what can happen there. For some strange reason cats just love plastic. Why do they love to chew on it so much? In construction, one of the uses of plastic is to protect furniture. Your cat can choke on plastic and should be kept away from these areas. Painters tools should be kept in closed containers at the end of each day, so cats have no access to sharp tools and wood stir sticks that they might want to chew on. Should your cat get into any paint, it is best cleaned with a mild soap and water. Any ingestion of paint, contact your vet immediately. Bottom line really, cats need to be kept out of areas of construction, for their own safety.

Indoor or outdoor cat?

One of the primary concerns when taking on any construction project in your home is making sure that when workers enter your home that doors are closed behind them. You could put a sign on the front door, on both sides, not to let the cat out, if you have an indoor cat. Keep in mind that workers are focusing on their job and there may be many trips in and out, to vehicles and paint stores, so you might want to let the project manager know your concern, so he/she can make sure your cat remains inside.

Cat stories from the field

  • Years ago I was painting at a house North of Uxbridge. The homeowners introduced me to Kramer, a large but seemingly friendly cat. Well the customer left for work and I was working in the basement. When I was coming upstairs the cat was standing at the top of the stairs and wouldn’t let me past. He was quite adamant about it and actually quite scary. After trying to reason with him for what felt like an eternity, I forced myself upstairs by hiding behind a ladder that was draped with a drop-cloth.
  • The days of oil paint when paint would take forever to dry have quite a few stories and unfortunately they all have to do with wet paint stories. I remember one that kept jumping on the wet window ledge then run allover the house with paint on her paws.

Cat having fun with the painters

Erin and Alex, two of our painters were painting a kitchen for a customer in the west end of the city. The first story would have to be when Alex was putting up plastic around the ceiling fan and the cat (Tobey) climbed up the ladder beside her to see what she was doing and started to play with the plastic. There was a door that had no hardware on it, that had to be put up with a dresser in front of it, to keep the cats out. Tobey would sit at the door, scratching it and meow and stare through the hole where the door handle would go. Whenever anyone came close to the door he would stick his paw  through the hole and reach for whoever was near the door. He seriously wanted to get in and help!

Create a “safe room” for the cat

Have a safe room for your cat somewhere where it might be quiet, and as far away from the work areas as possible. You can set up their food, water, litter box, favourite toys, scratch posts, etc. in this room. Prepare this ahead of your construction start date, maybe a couple of days prior. This will allow your cat to obtain a comfort level with this new space. Keep your cats inside the safe room for short periods of time in the beginning to help them gradually get used to it. Cats take a long time to adapt to the slightest change in their environment, so starting this process a week or two ahead of construction will help. If there is a TV in this room, that also helps, it will drown out some of the noise outside of the room. A radio with some soft music has been found to be helpful. Put a sign on the door of this room to make sure workers don’t enter. If you are at home during the day, go into the room yourself and spend some time with your cat, like you usually do.

Try to keep your daily routine the same, if possible, like feeding times, etc. Keeping your cat’s routine in check will help to minimize any stress he may feel. Should you choose to let your cat out of the safe room at night, make sure and check that all areas of construction are cat proofed your cat goes roaming around, as he/she will, it is the nature of the cat, to be curious about everything.

If you have more concerns about painting your interior and how it affects your pets, talk to your painter.

8 thoughts on “The Cats During Painting And Renovations”

  1. I agree, have a safe room for your cat somewhere where it might be quiet. They are curious creature and easily get scared when they hear unfamiliar noise.

    • Thanks for reading, I am glad you find it helpful. This is actually one of our most useful blogs, as we have referred customers with cats here to read it. I was thinking of writing another one about dogs. They can get quite involved and sometimes are a little too “friendly”.

  2. Today when I was on a ladder cutting around a ceiling light in the hallway Mocha (our siamese) lept up from the ground onto the back of my leg with her claws to see what I was doing. Got some good puncture wounds. After that she just kept climbing onto things that were higher off the ground to be closer to what I was doing. Then as I was putting away the paint, a single droplet of paint got flung from my brush and landed right on Waffles’ (our orange tabby) nose. He immediately licked it off then freaked out at the taste and started running around the apartment foaming at the mouth until I was able to grab him and wash out his mouth. In the process I got quite a few battle marks on my chest and stomach. I know for sure now at least Waffles won’t be coming anywhere near any of the painting stuff in the future. And Mocha will need to be confined to the bedroom while I finish painting tomorrow.

  3. I came home from work today just to find that the painters decided to use spray in device and it was all over the entire house the stove was white with spray paint God only knows what it’s done to my four cars all I can do is pray. I wiped over one that I can never find when the crew comes before 8:00 am. I’m still in sleeping I work til after 3:00 am, my husband lets them in, Bootz has disappeared until I get home. I’m just glad I finally found a site that considers cats during renovations

    • I am glad you found the article useful. It’s been a while since you commented, I sure hope your cat came back and you were able to deal with the mess created by the painting contractors. You know we all talk about customer service but a family pet is an important part of the customer’s family. A good contractor that cares about their customer will also care about their cats.


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