Help my cat feel safe during an open house!
March 17, 2011 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Votes and anecdotes needed: landlord is selling the house in which my apartment is located - open house is happening for 2 hours during an afternoon - is it better for my cat to hide in fear under my bed, or spend the day miserable in a cage at the vet's?

Complicating factors - I work 12 hour shifts, so can't be around just to move my cat for a few hours to, for example, a friend's house - and the cat is not friendly enough (with humans or other cats) to be at the home of another person without me. So it's either home under the bed, terrified of all the strangers in my apartment for 2 hours, or in a cage at the vet's terrified of all the sounds etc. for 12 hours. FWIW, my cat is not a runner - he wouldn't try to escape from my apartment. Also - I have a small apartment, plus I won't be around when the open house is taking place - so it's not really possible to close the door to a particular room so people can take care in one particular area. What a pain this is!

I'm at work right now and have photo sharing sites blocked here - but if you look at this question, you can see a picture of my beauty. Thanks all!
posted by analog to Pets & Animals (16 answers total)
Seems like if it's 2 hours vs 12 hours, then 2 hours is the obvious choice. If there's room under there, can you set up a little cat bed and food & water bowls under the bed so he can at least be comfy and fed while he's hiding.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:47 AM on March 17, 2011

Two hours under the bed is way better than any of the other options. Do you have a bed skirt? If not, get one so kitty can really feel safe.
posted by Pineapplicious at 7:55 AM on March 17, 2011

Anecdotally, I vote for the 2 hours under the bed in terms of kitty comfort (and second the suggestion of large, overhanging blankets).
That said, I would suggest you think about what will happen if your apartment door is open for the entire 2 hours. I imagine this is likely, as most open houses I've been to the person showing the home has propped the door open for the duration.
posted by Phredward at 7:59 AM on March 17, 2011

I'd choose at home, but first look for friends who will keep your cat locked in a bathroom for 12 hours. Bring a blanket or pillow or something that smells of you. Not the cat would necessarily be happier there, but it would be safer -- people do weird shit at open houses.
posted by jeather at 7:59 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Honestly, I would not leave my cat in the apartment unless he was safely confined. You know him well and have confidence that he would not try to escape. But I worry that something unexpected would cause him to flee. (Yes, I'm a worry wart.)

What if one of the visitors has a curious toddler? What if the apartment door is left open?

Can you lock the kitty in a ventilated closet? Can you borrow a dog crate to confine him for the day? I've used dog crates to confine foster cats in my home. Put a cardboard box in the crate with him, so he can hide.
posted by valannc at 8:00 AM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]

I personally would never leave any of my pets at home during an open house where I will not be presents. You can't trust that strangers will be well-intentioned. Plus, as Phredward mentioned, people sometimes prop doors open. In your position, I would take him to the vet for the day for boarding.
posted by crankylex at 8:02 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you tell the agent that their is a pet, it is very unlikely that he/she will prop the door open. I've been to many an open house with a sign on the door asking people to close it due to a cat present and where the agent was diligent in this regard.
posted by Pineapplicious at 8:18 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

When I had people staying in my apartment with my cats who are frightened of strangers, I made them up a nice hideout under the bed - used folded clothes and blankets to make "walls" around the bottom of the bed except for an open door at the "safe" end, put food and water and toys and clothes than smelled like me under the bed in a nice nest.
When the people shoe up, your cat will have a safe place to hide. they'll still be scared but they will know the environment and feel a little protected.

And of course, a note to the agent letting them know about this and asking them not to disturb your arrangements around the bed. I'm sure they'll have seen this scenario before.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:20 AM on March 17, 2011

I am echoign valannc here.

Keep the kitty for 12 hours at the vet. He will be safe and sound and you won't have to worry.
posted by royalsong at 8:34 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cats are unpredictable, I would be very worried about him running (it only takes once), or scratching someone who isn't careful, or just scaring someone--especially if he accidentally gets stuck away from his safe spot. If the open house is near the beginning of your shift, it seems like you could cage him at home and ask the person showing the house to release him at the end of the open house. Or ask someone to stop by and release him. If the open house is at the end of your shift, maybe you could find a friend with a spare bathroom who can keep him fully separated.
posted by anaelith at 8:53 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

We had a very similar dilemma a number of years ago, and left the cat in the apartment for the open house.

When we came home we found the back door left open (the realtor forgot about it when he closed up) and the cat was surly and angry, but no worse for wear. Still have no idea what they did to her -- the realtor said everything went fine and there were no problems.

In a pinch I'd do it again with the same cat. Now we have another one, and there's no way I'd do it with him. So yeah, trust your instincts. To me it sounds like leaving your cat under the bed would ultimately bring everyone less trauma and drama.

Let us know how it goes either way.
posted by nadise at 9:27 AM on March 17, 2011

I would not trust my cat alone in my house with a bunch of strangers, but that's just me. My cats constantly surprise me; they're unpredictable at best. It sucks, but I'd go with the vet. At least you know he'd be safe and you won't be worrying about him the whole time.

Do you have a trusted friend who could come to the open house and just be there to guard the cat, or scoop them up and take them to their car or somewhere for a couple hours?
posted by cgg at 9:30 AM on March 17, 2011

My cats aren't runners, but when the building I was living in was trying to go condo, I insisted on notice and being present for buyer tours because I didn't want to take any chances. I would vote for the vet for safety reasons.
posted by immlass at 10:54 AM on March 17, 2011

I'm also overly protective of my cat, so I'd either arrange to be in the apartment during the open house (which obviously isn't possible for you) or leave the cat at the vet's, where I know she'd be safe. Your cat will get over the initial discomfort of being at the vet's, but you can't be sure that any of the worst case scenarios listed above won't happen during the open house.
posted by lucysparrow at 11:00 AM on March 17, 2011

Here's the anecdote I forgot to include in my first post: I knew someone who lost her cat while she was moving. He bolted out the door while the movers were going in and out. Her traveling plans were set, so she couldn't stay and wait for him to come back--and she didn't think he was a runner, either.
posted by lucysparrow at 2:43 PM on March 17, 2011

Response by poster: Ack! I am stressed out. I am not inclined to take a chance. Call me ridiculous, but I am going to get up extra early and take my cat to the safety of a friend's bathroom - then I'll go to work, leave the office 6 hours later, pick up the boy from my friend's place, and take him home - then return to work. I couldn't bear it if something happened, and six hours in exile is better than 12. If the real estate agent seemed more concerned (I talked to her since posting this and am not entirely satisfied), I might think otherwise, but I don't trust her to be entirely on the ball. Thanks everyone for your balanced responses!
posted by analog at 3:37 PM on March 17, 2011

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