Cats and the condo and the silver spoon...
June 28, 2010 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Three rambunctious cats in a condo. Laminate floors. How can I not annoy my neighbours?

I just moved into a new (rented) condo with my three cats. It's the first time we've had people living below us (or non-deaf people next to us), and I'm on the verge of an ulcer because I really, really do not want to be the noisy neighbor that gets evicted. (I cannot piss off the strata here. Trust me.)

Maybe I'm super sensitive, but I practically freak out whenever they jump down from anywhere. I took down the 8 foot cat tree, and put a chair next to the cat condo so there's an intermediate step down, but even jumping off things like the couch and bed make a thud. They scratch in their litter box (alot, more than necessary), and to me it sounds so loud I'm sure the entire building care hear it (I know they can't obviously, but...). They scratch the floor when they're finished eating. And when they start chasing each other around, especially at 4:30 in the morning, jumping on and off the boxes/bed/dresser... oh god.

Seriously - I'm getting an ulcer, and I've only been here two days. I think it's a solid concrete building, but I'm not 100% sure. So far the only noises I've heard from my neighbours have been the occasional drop of something, vacuuming, and the plumbing. But for all I know they're all as quiet as a mouse otherwise.

So, how can I deaden the noise? On the floors, around their litter box, etc? I don't care if I hear it - i just want it to not escape my space. I've already clipped their nails, and I'm going to ikea to buy a metric ton of runners and rugs today, but what else is there? Any ingenious ideas I haven't thought of yet? Cheap is better, but I'm willing to spend some money, within reason, if it'll work. Any cat-noises that I'm forgetting about that I should deal with? They do meow occasionally, but it's no louder than the TV. Added difficulty - Because I'm renting, I can't make any permanent changes.

(In case it's not obvious, getting rid of the cats and/or moving ARE NOT options here.)

Thanks all!
posted by cgg to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As you said, runners and rugs. You could put down rubber mats under the litter boxes and feeding area, just for ease of cleaning. Otherwise, rugs and runners are about it.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:05 AM on June 28, 2010

I have 5 cats, wood floors, and the same ulcers. Sometimes they are even kicking off the walls! It's hilarious to watch but then you have to worry about the next door neighbors in addition to the downstairs folks. I have thin rugs under the litter boxes. One thing I was considering is felt padding under any rugs. I have't looked into it too much but it might add another layer of sound proofing. Then all you have to worry about is the kitties scratching it up.
posted by mokeydraws at 7:11 AM on June 28, 2010

It sounds as if you're spending a lot of energy trying to solve a problem that may not exist. Your neighbors haven't complained, have they? Everything could be just fine. You're allowed to have pets, right? If you want to be passive about this, wait 'til someone complains and then address the complaint. If you want to be pro-active, introduce yourself to your neighbors, explain that you aren't sure how good the soundproofing is and ask whether the cats are bothering anyone. Either way, find out whether the problem exists before you spend all this time and worry on it.
posted by jon1270 at 7:14 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yeah, it sounds like you're getting ulcers about a problem you don't even know if you have. Wait until you get a complaint, or talk to them.
posted by Jairus at 7:20 AM on June 28, 2010

(Getting ulcers, and stressing out your cats by changing their environment around and removing familiar toys after a move.)
posted by Jairus at 7:21 AM on June 28, 2010

Just to clarify - I'd rather not have a complaint in the first place. Hence, all the worry now. And although my landlord is cool with my cats, and their presence is explicitly OKed in my lease, their existence has to be kept "discrete".
posted by cgg at 7:27 AM on June 28, 2010

Hello, other self! I'm in almost exactly your position--3 cats in a place built to condo standards--except we have carpeted floors. The carpet makes a huge difference. We've been here for 2 1/2 years and the neighbors have never complained about cat noise. Our cats may be less active than yours, but seriously, the only noise complaint we've had in all this time is that my very tall husband drops the toilet lid too hard, which to be fair can be really loud and vibrates the floor, setting off a noisy cat toy in the next room.

Condo-built construction protects and muffles a lot of the noises. The big problems we've had as tenants are things like people putting subwoofers on the wall next to our bedroom and playing bass late at night. We don't have anyone above us, but we do have neighbors on both sides and beneath and we've never had an ongoing noise problem that hasn't involved amplification (neighbor's stereo, neighbor's guitar practice with amp, etc).

I would suggest padded rugs--not even that padded, because the padding under our carpet isn't that great--and then seeing how it goes.
posted by immlass at 7:29 AM on June 28, 2010

Rugs. And a deep breath :)

I've had a downstairs neighbor complain about normal household noise (i.e. ungraceful cats) and rugs satisfied his needs as much as possible. (He was also cranky and would have complained about anything - if you have neighbors like that, the neighbor and not the CATS, is the problem.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:40 AM on June 28, 2010

Take the downstairs neighbors a little gift - a plant or cookies or something - and ask if you've been too thumpy or if they can even hear anything at all from your place. Leave them a phone number so they can call you rather than management. Tell them you're totally paranoid about heavy walking, loud TVs, etc and really want to make sure you don't bother them.

You may find out they can't hear a thing from your place except something you didn't expect - like the toilet lid, or your garbage disposal. And then you'll know to put bumpers on the toilet lid and to dispose at appropriate hours. Problem solved!
posted by Lyn Never at 7:41 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Fans can help make a barrier of white noise that can sometimes make a difference through thin floors. My old upstairs neighbors used one and I noticed the difference. I used to worry about my 20lb cat thumping around but nobody ever complained. I did put a bucket of water as a stabilizer on the base of my cat tower, to minimize any rocking it made against the floor when cats go flying on and off, as they are wont to do. But I bet you'd be surprised what people can ignore. Its apartment living and as far as I'm concerned, cat noises are way better than my current neighbors bb gun and rap music combo.
posted by gilsonal at 7:52 AM on June 28, 2010

There are dozens of cats in my apartment building and I never hear any of them. I didn't even realize there were so many until the fire alarm went off and everyone came outside with their cats in carriers. So I agree you may be worrying about nothing. Ask your neighbors if the cats bother them.

The neighbors playing the TV or music or the guitar too loud I hear. And once the person upstairs kept using a treadmill or something at 5 AM. But cats I never hear.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:58 AM on June 28, 2010

Would those little press on kitty nails help with the scratching sounds?

Otherwise there's always Kitten Mittens...
posted by mrsshotglass at 8:37 AM on June 28, 2010

I can't believe more people haven't suggested speaking to your neighbor. Just head downstairs and say "Hi, I just moved in upstairs, but I'm worried my that my cats may make noise that bothers you. If it ever does, please let me know and we'll get it figured out."

Seriously, though, it's the easiest thing to do.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:17 AM on June 28, 2010

Seconding InsanePenguin. Be proactive, go talk to your neighbors, introduce yourself, tell them you are quite anxious not to bother them, ask them to please feel free to let you know if there is a noise issue.

This will win you so many good neighbor points that I'll be people will be more likely to cut you a little slack, and even if they do have a problem with it, opening the dialogue yourself will go a long ways towards keeping the tone friendly.

Also: this came up in a different context, but I'll bet not nearly as much cat thumping noise is getting through your walls as you fear. Years ago, when the place we were living had a small rodent issue, the exterminator we brought in told me that if you have mice in your walls you can't hear them- they are not big enough to make that much noise. If you hear a "scritch scritch" inside your walls, it's got to be something bigger, like a rat or a squirrel. By extension then, if you are thinking about the noise traveling across from your apartment to your neighbors, noise might be an issue if your cats were inside the wall (heaven forbid) but from the other side of the wall, that wall is probably more effective at blocking noise than you might imagine.

posted by ambrosia at 10:11 AM on June 28, 2010

If you can put an air space under the litter box, like maybe put it on a shipping palette (or something nicer but similar), then there ought to be less sound conduction between that and the apartment beneath you. I'm not saying you really need to, but it might ease your mind a little.
posted by anaelith at 11:21 AM on June 28, 2010


(1) Say hello to the downstairs neighbors

(2) Besides rugs, you could use padding - those squares that fit together like jigsaw puzzles. Or both; one on top of the other.
posted by coffeefilter at 11:35 AM on June 28, 2010

Another vote for "talk to your neighbors." Personally, I think at least 60% of what makes a loud neighbor annoying is the feeling that they don't even get how loud they're being.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:55 PM on June 28, 2010

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