Likelihood of cat allergens spreading from granny suite to main house
June 14, 2018 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Would having a cat living in a granny suite in the basement of a large house be likely to create issues for a cat-allergic person living on the main floor of the house?

- person living in the granny suite wants to adopt a cat
- person living in the top floor has an allergy to cats and is adamant that a cat downstairs would trigger their allergies and make them sick

- house has venmar/air circulation system.
- No overlap in terms of living areas, they have separate facilities/entrances/etc. Entire top floor is one living area, and to get to the granny suite from the inside you have to go down a flight of stairs and through a large unfinished section of basement.
- there is no interaction between the residents of either section.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
 
As a person with cat allergies who has tried living in this situation, yes, the person with allergies will be made sick by this. The issue is the central air. I tried installing HEPA filters in the furnace but it 9nly helped a little.

I've found that a comparison to.indoor smoking is the best way to communicate airborne allergy issues to people who do not suffer from bad allergies themselves. If you're managing units with shared central air, I think you need to have a consistent policy regarding pets and indoor smoking for all units.

If you feel it necessary to.accomidate the one tenant's desire for a new pet, the only option I know of is to completely disconnect the granny suite from the central air (actually disconnect the ducts and plaster over the vent holes) and heat/cool the granny suite with electric radiators/window units. Keep in mind that there will be an increase in electric bills.
posted by ethical_caligula at 7:41 AM on June 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


The venmar is only used as an air exhanger and not for heating or cooling. There is a ductless heatpump upstairs, but the granny suite is heated using baseboard heaters.

Is it correct to assume simply sealing the venmar vents in the granny suite would likely solve the issue?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:53 AM on June 14, 2018


You don't say where in Canada you are. If you're ontario and the person in the granny suite is a tenant, they're allowed to get a cat. No Pets/no cats/whatever clauses are illegal in Ontario. I'm not sure what you can do about the upstairs person's allergies, but forbidding a cat may not be one of your options.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:53 AM on June 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Is it wise to seal the Venmar vents, though? Part of the purpose of a Venmar system is to control indoor humidity. Anyway, is your Venmar system outfitted with HEPA?

I would just say "no cats". Human health is important.

NOTE for other AskMe commenters: Venmar is supposed help improve indoor air quality because it incorporates various air filters. However, Venmar does not typically incorporate filters for pet dander.
posted by JamesBay at 7:56 AM on June 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


If you're ontario and the person in the granny suite is a tenant, they're allowed to get a cat. No Pets/no cats/whatever clauses are illegal in Ontario. I'm not sure what you can do about the upstairs person's allergies, but forbidding a cat may not be one of your options.

In Ontario, it's not that "No pets" clauses are illegal, it's that they are invalid - i.e. you can include them in a lease (though not in the new standardized leases), but they don't mean anything. As a separate unit (not sharing kitchen or bathroom), you should have all the rights of a tenant, not like those of a roommate.

That said, if an animal is a problem for another resident's health or well-being, that may be grounds for not allowing them. It sounds like this may be the case in your situation, unless circulation between the two units is ceased. Dander will spread through shared ventilation.

/speaking as the owner of a beloved, and incredibly sheddy and danderful cat
posted by jb at 8:05 AM on June 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Being someone with horrible cat allergies, if I were the upstairs tenant I would move out over this. Cat allergies can be HORRIBLE.
posted by raccoon409 at 8:26 AM on June 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


Relevant article about pets and tenant's rights in Ontario
posted by Secret Sparrow at 8:39 AM on June 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Cat does not exist. Real paying tenant with cat allergies exists. I would side with the real paying tenant.
posted by like_neon at 8:54 AM on June 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


I looked up diagrams of the Venmar heatpump, but I can't really tell how sealed off it is from shared air. I would put it like this: would you let a tenant in one unit smoke indoors if the other tenant had a child sleeping there? If the answer is no, then the tenant getting a cat in one unit is going to impact the other tenant with allergies.

My allergies affect me every day. Exposure to allergens causes inflammation in my body, and makes me feel like I have a low grade flu. I spend a lot of time and money on medical products and services to manage a condition there is currently no cure for. I've had endless shots, Rx meds, seen many doctors, tried every alternative therapy I know of. It affects where I can go and what I can participate in, where I can rent, even who I can date. Service animals are everywhere these days, when I meet a friend for coffee or ride an airplane. My pet free home is kind of my only "safe space" from this. So, to be blunt, if a cat moves into one unit, you will likely loose your previous tenant, and will be placing an additional burden on them by making them find a new home.
posted by ethical_caligula at 9:11 AM on June 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


Phooey. Okay. No cat in the granny suite. :(
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:38 AM on June 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


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