Our roof is being redone tomorrow, worried about cats.
January 15, 2013 8:55 PM   Subscribe

Our house still has its original roof from when it was built in the mid-1950s. It's finally getting replaced tomorrow -- after months of leaks in nearly every room -- but I'm worried about our two indoor cats dealing with it. I know the noise will terrify them and they will hide, but are there other things I should worry about?

My roommate and I will both be at work all day. The house is one story and ~1400 square feet with vaulted ceilings, so I think it's going to be pretty noisy and unpleasant. We're going to take the precautions we can think of: shutting off the bathrooms (which both have ceiling vents leading straight through the roof) and taking down anything that could possibly fall off walls or shelves from the house shaking. We're also going to cover our beds/desks in case things get really dusty. But should I be worried about, say, harmful dust and chemicals getting inside the house? The cats are about a year old and have more tolerance for racket than some other cats I've had, but I'm sure they're not going to like this.

Maybe I'm overthinking it, but I've never had serious housework like this done and I'd like to get some feedback from people who know better than me. Thanks!
posted by perryfugue to Home & Garden (18 answers total)
Have you thought of boarding them at the vet for the day ?
posted by y2karl at 9:00 PM on January 15, 2013

We had our roof replaced two years ago (a full tear-off, not just a new layer), and while it was noisy and poundy, nothing fell off the walls or any shelves, and there was no dust inside the house. You shouldn't need to move or cover anything unless you have some very precariously placed breakables.

Our biggest concern was making sure there were no nails left on the ground outside afterward, that could harm our car tires, ourselves, or our dogs. The roofers had a magnetic nail-picking-up tool that they used a few times throughout day and at the end, but we still found a couple here and there, so I recommend checking any areas where you'll walk or drive.
posted by boomchicka at 9:06 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would try to find a place for the cats to stay for the day due to the noise at home. I recently had my roof replaced, and was home at the time, and it was bearable for me, but I knew exactly what was going on. The cats are likely to freak out.

If you really can't find a place for the cats to stay, shutting the bathrooms is a good idea -- I did wind up with debris in my vertical bathroom vent.

Will the roofers have access to the inside of your home? If so consider shutting the cats in the bedroom so they can't be let out by mistake. I did not think that the roofers would need to go in my house, but as it turns out, since I have no outdoor outlets, they needed to run an extension cord through my window to power their nail gun.
posted by BlueJae at 9:08 PM on January 15, 2013

Response by poster: y2karl and BlueJae: Ah thanks, I should have addressed that. One, the project starts in about 12 hours and I don't think we have time. So far, they've only been seen by a mobile vet and we haven't found a local clinic that we trust.

The other factor: They're technically my roommate's cats (although I love them dearly) and he thinks boarding them would be even more traumatizing and hazardous. I sort of disagree with that, but didn't argue because it doesn't seem negligent to leave them in the house... just not ideal. If they were solely my cats, I would probably board them or have someone take care of them.

I don't think the roofers are going to come inside, but that's a good point.
posted by perryfugue at 9:22 PM on January 15, 2013

If there's any chance that the roofers might come in, then locking the cats up w/access to food & litter boxes is a good plan. And perhaps some Feliway, if the cats respond to it. FWIW, my own cats were mildly bemused by all the banging when my new roof was installed (even though replacing beams was involved), but not otherwise upset.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:41 PM on January 15, 2013

Assuming we're just talking shingles here and they're not actually replacing trusses and decking or something, you are way over thinking this. There shouldn't be any dust or house shaking and the only real noise will be the nail gun - and the lion's share of that is from the exhaust (so it's much noisier outside than it will be inside). When I was using one inside the house last week for a remodeling project, my cats ran an hid the first few times but by the fifth or six board I was nailing up were like, "Oh, this nonsense again."

If the workers are coming into the house or need to run an extension cord, the cats getting out would be my big concern.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:46 PM on January 15, 2013

It really depends on the personalities of the cats. I can take my own cats over to a friend's bedroom or a hotel bathroom and just dump them in and they're happy as clams, but I know not all cats are that adjustable.

I wouldn't worry about dusts or anything - on the off chance that your roof has asbestos in it or something a single, short-term exposure like that would not be significant as a health risk.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:49 PM on January 15, 2013

Don't worry too much. I've been in a house with cats when the roof was being replaced. As long as the roofers aren't coming inside then I wouldn't worry about it. They'll hide under the bed and then forget about it a day later.
posted by greta simone at 10:03 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Leave a radio on or the TV? Start it before the new sounds start? Extra food? Hiding places at the ready?
posted by Freedomboy at 11:20 PM on January 15, 2013

Make them a fort to hide in. Re-roofing isn't that terrifying. They'll be fine.
posted by (F)utility at 11:32 PM on January 15, 2013

I just had my roof replaced recently. There was a bit of noise, but not really that much, and most of it was actually from the electric generator they ran because they didn't have other good access to electricity (that wouldn't trip the breaker). And the only dust was in the unfinished attic space, which was unfinished. My cats didn't care one whit.
posted by ethidda at 11:33 PM on January 15, 2013

When I had contractors in my place for a month or so one of my cats (an indoor-outdoor cat with her own cat flap) peed on my bed a couple of times because she was upset at the disruption to her routine and the extra noise and people in the flat.
posted by essexjan at 1:58 AM on January 16, 2013

New roof a few months ago, here. Based on my experience, you shouldn't have too many worries about dust, chemicals, etc. Noises and minor vibrations were very noticeable, but I didn't need to take anything off a shelf. Only potential cat issue that I can think of would be their tolerance for unusual and persistent but not overly loud noises.
posted by gimonca at 5:44 AM on January 16, 2013

I agree, set the kitties up in a room behind a closed door.

When we had U-verse in for our installation, they went in the basement, in the attic and all around the town. Malcolm decided to hide behind the wall in the basement. I had the guy up in the attic with cat treats trying to lure him out. We all relaxed when the black blur ran out of the basement and under a bed.

Eartha followed the installer around like a puppy, wanting to supervise all the work he was doing.

I have now learned that when tradesmen are working on my house that the kitties are best hanging in the bedroom while the work is being done.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:13 AM on January 16, 2013

Things that seemingly terrorize Zipper at first, end up in short order being stalked and eventually attacked.
After 10,000 years, house cats have proven to be masters of adaptability.
posted by notreally at 7:05 AM on January 16, 2013

We had our roof tiles replaced a couple of years ago, and the cats were fine. (Well, one ran and hid, but she does that any time anyone she doesn't know comes to the house or she hears a truck beeping near our house, so it doesn't indicate any special trauma.) I wouldn't worry about it as long as you've made sure they can't get out.
posted by languagehat at 9:04 AM on January 16, 2013

We had our roof replaced a couple years ago and it's quieter than you might expect (at least the crew who worked on our roof was). Anyway, I think your cats will be fine as long as their regular hiding places are available to them. My four mostly ignored what brouhaha there was.
posted by deborah at 11:49 PM on January 16, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, friends. The cats were fine -- thoroughly freaked out and hiding when we got home, but they returned to normal after a few hours and no hazardous fumes or drips came from above. Lots of dust from the bathroom vents and in a few spots around the house, nothing catastrophic. And now maybe the house won't flood when it rains.

I appreciate everyone's insight!
posted by perryfugue at 7:18 PM on January 19, 2013

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