Herding cats during termite treatment?
August 29, 2011 6:34 PM   Subscribe

Upon the discovery of several live termites attempting to set up shop in my garage wall, I called in a local pest-control company. Following inspection, said company recommended treating the dirt under the garage slab with fipronil (aka Termidor). I have four indoor cats and a fish, and while the termite guys say the fish can stay, they're recommending moving the cats out of the house for the three hours it will take to apply the stuff. Is this really necessary? If so, where the heck can I take four fairly skittish cats for three hours?

Honestly, it seems to me that if the fish will be fine staying in the office room (where I have the aquarium set up), the cats should too. The office is about as far from the garage as you can get in this house, and only the garage needs to be termite-treated. Moreover, apparently fipronil is both a termite-killing agent AND the active ingredient in Frontline flea-control, which plenty of cats tolerate just fine. I realize the concentrations are different, but it seems to me that the termite company is being over-cautious in saying the cats need to be out of the house.

That said, I adore my cats to bits and I most certainly do NOT want to subject them to needless health risks. And I could see there being some risk if the cats were going to be anywhere near the area to be treated. But behind a closed door? In a whole other part of the house? Am I correct in figuring they would likely be totally okay?

There is no way for them to get out of the office unless I open the door, and the garage is a no-kitty zone (due to the presence of tools and other sharp/heavy/dangerous-to-curious-cats objects there) to begin with. The garage is attached to the house, but there are doors from the garage leading directly to the outdoors as well, meaning the termite chemicals would never enter the "house proper". And since it sounds like the fipronil will be injected in liquid form into holes drilled in the garage floor, I guess I can't see how the heck this could affect the cats at all unless the cats were IN the garage. Which they most assuredly would not be.

All that said, is there something I am missing here? What would you do if it were your cats?

And if it turns out the termite guys, for some as-yet-unknown legal reason, literally cannot start work until the cats are out...where can I take them for 3 hours where they'll be safe and more or less comfortable?

[II would REALLY rather not take anyone to a boarding facility, given that the older one can barely stand other cats she knows -- she goes into Rumplestiltskin-like fits if the neighbor cat shows up at the window -- and the younger three are all ex-feral and shy/prone to running and hiding in the presence of unfamiliar humans.

I mean of course I would board them if I had to get the house fumigated, or in the event of a dire natural-disaster emergency or whatnot, and they'd just have to deal, but if it's only going to be three hours I'd like to at least query the hive regarding any possible alternatives.]
posted by aecorwin to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
Response by poster: Oh, and I forgot to include the fact that it really is ONLY the garage area that needs termite treatment at this point in time. We had the full-on fumigation done two years ago just before moving in, and they did spot treatments around other parts of the structure which still seem to be holding the creatures at bay.
posted by aecorwin at 6:35 PM on August 29, 2011

Best answer: I would play it safe and do what the exterminator tells you to do.

Check with your vet - when my air conditioning went out on a 103 degree day, mine let my cats hang out there during the day at no charge. It may temporarily stress them out, sure, but it's better than risking their health.
posted by something something at 6:41 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Could you buy one of these outdoor cat enclosures and take them to the park?
posted by Scram at 6:46 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Depending on how hot it is outside, you could just take them to a park or something and leave them in a cage or two while you have a picnic and a book to read. My sister's cats love grass enough that they've tolerated this for a few hours at a time (I think this is why the cage is kept around, actually - it's huge and kind of useless for anything else.)
posted by SMPA at 6:48 PM on August 29, 2011

they're recommending moving the cats out of the house for the three hours it will take to apply the stuff.

Sounds like once they're gone, you can move the cats back into the house and put them in the office overnight. Can't you put them in their crates and take them to chill at a friend's? Put their crates in a darkened room and just let the kitties alone. They should be OK that way. Take them home after 3-4 hours. Leave the garage door open at least 4-5 inches tonight if possible, or at least tomorrow when it will be hot.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:48 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Heh, the vet would be better than boarding (as at least it would be semi-familiar) but still not ideal.

Re. chilling at a friend's, someone I know just offered that -- said friend has other cats, which I am sure would peeve off my Siamese, but at least it wouldn't be as many as a boarding situation would entail.

I am VERY intrigued about the outdoor cage/enclosure idea, though. They all lovelovelove the outdoors (despite not being allowed out unless leashed and/or supervised) and if I could swing something along those lines, my guess is that they'd see the whole experience as more of a treat than a trauma!
posted by aecorwin at 7:00 PM on August 29, 2011

Oh, yes. Forgot to add, well done on teh kitteh pictures!!
posted by BlueHorse at 9:16 PM on August 29, 2011

Don't forget saran wrap over the aquarium openings if you think there is any chance of chemicals settling on the surface and dissolving into the water. Its easy enough to do that it might be worth the effort anyhow.
posted by gilsonal at 1:43 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We had a Termidor treatment done last year. It was preventative, not due to any existing infestation, if that makes a difference. Pest guy poked/drilled holes at intervals along the entire perimeter of the house. He said nothing about removing or otherwise restraining/constraining our two cats. I was pregnant at the time and asked him about the safety of the chemicals he was using, and he said to keep myself inside while he was doing the work, and not to go poking around in the holes, etc., but that it's a pretty safe chemical. I would imagine if you kept the cats inside the room with the fish tank, they would be fine.
posted by fancyoats at 11:16 AM on August 30, 2011

Response by poster: Ok, thanks to everyone who responded -- the termite treatment was completed today. Initially I had been told that I HAD to remove the cats so I made plans to have them all hang out at my SO's parents' place (across town). As it turned out, though, there was a bit of a communication mixup at the exterminator's office and the end result was that I did NOT end up having to take the kitties anywhere! Apparently the cats would only have to be removed if the exterminators needed to treat the crawlspace but they didn't, and nothing they used was aerosolized so all I had to do was make sure kitties didn't get into the garage (which was easy as they're not allowed in there anyway).
posted by aecorwin at 9:11 PM on September 9, 2011

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