What to do with cats?

maurenemmApril 11, 2011

Our house goes on the market in about 10 days. I have 2 cats (approx. 12 years old). Both have developed health issues which make them very messy. They don't always use the litter box and they vomit a lot. We're talking at least weekly incidences. I've been fed up with for a while but I just can't give them back to the shelter or put them down. I've had them for over 10 years.

What can/should I do with them while our house is on the market?

There are no family or friends who could take them. I could board them somewhere but I imagine that will be at least $30/day per cat. The realtor suggested maybe caging them in the garage. (We have a 1 car garage that we don't use for our car.) But would it still be off-putting to some buyers to see cats in the garage? I've also thought about keeping them in the 1/2 of the basement that isn't finished. But, that would still have the litter boxes (and their messes) in the house.

Any other options I'm not seeing?

If I do something like board them or cage them in the garage, how long do I have to do that? I'm thinking I would need to keep them away/caged until we closed (not just once we have a contract on the house).

I'm in the DC area where real estate isn't doing too bad. Average DOM are just over 30 days. If I can isolate/remove the cats, I can replace the carpeting in the basement (finished half) that they've done the most damage too. (We've just replaced the carpet in the bedrooms and family room.)

Thanks for any help!!

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Given that the weather is nicer now, can you get a dog lot in your backyard and keep the cats there for awhile? You could put a dog house there for them to keep out of any bad weather and you could always keep them inside when you knew there wasn't any home showings or when you're home in the evenings. On days you have showings you can just put them in their 'kennel.'

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 11:15AM
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Use your realtor's advice ***as a starting point.*** I'm going to assume that prospective buyers do not show up unannounced, nor at a moment's notice. Instead, you receive some kind of advance notice, don't you? So you should have plenty of time to get a drill down pat....

First, realtor contacts you to say people will be stopping by in one hour (?), 4 hours (?), or whatever. Second, you take each cat and place it in its own cat carrier, which is already stored neatly in a corner of your garage. Thus, two cat carriers, one next to the other. Third, grab litter box, stuff it into a large plastic garbage bag, and stick it in some place -- your car trunk, for example. It's already cleaned, since I assume you must scoop/clean it at least once per day anyway. If it isn't, quickly do that (and put outside the house, in garbage can). Fourth, take cat bowls & stick in dishwasher or some other place. Voila, you are finished.

Bring cats back in the house when the people have left. If additional people will be stopping by the same day, simply repeat the process. It's really no different from cleaning the kitchen sink each time you use it or shining up the bathroom faucet....It's just part of the pre-showing routine.

I can't imagine that prospective buyers are so naive or so persnickety that they believe all houses they view are pet-free. So I wouldn't tear yourself up about temporarily hiding the evidence.

BTW when we showed our house, I did nothing other than make sure the litterboxes were impeccably clean. I didn't even crate the kitties. I might have gone on to do so had the house not sold so quickly, but the people who bought it, especially her kids, loved my two cats! The woman said, half-jokingly, that one of her sons hoped the cats would stay with the house.

"I've been fed up with for a while but I just can't give them back to the shelter or put them down."

I once rescued off the street a very, very old and very ill cat whose owner simply left behind when moving. I kept it and cared for it for the last remaining months of its life. Yes, illness that accompanies old age can be disgusting, but dealing with it and putting up with it is part of the pact we make when we take an animal into our lives. But of course, you aleady know that.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 11:49AM
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Ah, maurenemm, I'm sorry, but I'd missed your last 2 paragraphs.

It sounds as if people are not regularly home during the day, so that when a cat vomits, there's nobody there to clean it up right away, is that right? Here's a thought to consider: what about, after you've replaced the carpet in the basement, covering it completely with plastic sheeting of some kind. Yes, it will look ridiculous, but the goal is simply to keep the carpet in good shape for showings and up til closing. Take it up when people stop by & then replace after they've left; thus, add it to the routine for placing the cats in carriers in the garage. One more thing you'd have to do, but it'd be akin to what contractors & builders do to protect floors and carpets in houses that are being worked on or shown.

For the other rooms in your house (bedroom, etc.), just keep the doors closed all the time.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 11:58AM
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It would really be more helpful to actually explore the cost of boarding two cats long term if what lynxe is suggesting is just not something you are realistically going to do. There can be a big difference in cost between a long-term board at a kennel and a daily rate at a veterinarian. I am a pet owner, and although I would not be at all disturbed by finding them in a caged run outside with proper shelter, I would be disgusted finding them penned in a garage.

I just grieve when I find 'senior' animals at a shelter since they seldom get taken to spend their last days in comfort.......but I know what you mean about their health and sanitary habits. Hope you find a good solution for your needs and those of your pets.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 1:06PM
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I sold a home with 3 cats in it, and did nothing but keep the litter box as clean as possible.

I would keep them in the half of the basement that isn't finished, only when you are not home. I assume there is a door to close it off? I would put a note on the door that the door needs to be kept shut to keep cats in.

I would then let the cats up when you are home and around to deal with any messes.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 1:17PM
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You might want to check out this post by kats meow. Towards the end she posts that although she and her husband weren't aware of it, AND they had removed their cats from the home, it did still have an odor that was turning off potential buyers.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 2:15PM
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Yes. Some of the things that we did. We had an area in the house that was concrete floor where we had kept their litter boxes. Once we found out that there was residual odor -- even though it looked clean and hadn't been that messy -- we had it cleaned thoroughly with a pet cleaner and painted the floor with shellac. We did test with a blacklight throughout the house (found nothing). We also changed A/c filters. We got some of the plug in air fresheners as well.

We were able to remove our cats (we had another house) so didn't have that issue with this house.

However, when we sold two past houses we did have cats and did different things each time. In both cases, we were not home during the day so couldn't remove them for each showing.

House 1 - We kept the cats in the utility room and just put up a sign that cats were in there and not to open. If I was doing it now, I would put a picture of the utility room on the door. We did make a note that if the buyers wanted to see in that room we could make arrangements for a second showing to remove the cats. As it turned out, the buyer didn't request a second showing.

House 2 - We bought a cat crate made by Midwest. It was on wheels and had a plastic floor. We fed the cats in the crate and kept their litter box in there. It was easy to clean up. When we left each morning we put a cover (I think a tablecloth but don't remember) or the crate and just left the cats there. In the event of showing, it was obvious it was a pet crate but nothing in there was visible. Of course we cleaned up every morning before leaving. This ended up working really well.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 3:28PM
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Thanks everyone!

We've pretty much decided to go the cage route. I bought two big (70" tall) cat cages.

Calliope - I can appreciate your point of view on cats caged in a garage (or we might do basement)...but I think its what we have to do. If they're miserable, we'll re-evaluate. I still think its better than boarding them where they'll be surrounded by strange animals and new people. When I talked to my vet about one of my cat's issues, she brought up caging.

kats_meow: Thanks for the first hand experience. I think I will have to shellac the concrete floor of the closet where I keep their litter boxes. I also think I'll need treat the concrete below one particular spot on the carpet before they put new carpet in.

Oh, I hate this! The kitties deserve better from me but since having kids my priorities have changed.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 4:07PM
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Keep the cats in the garage, free roaming. Post a sign on the doors indicating pets are inside do not let out, view with caution. Unless you are in an area that it is expected that laundry facilities or a chest freezer would be kept in the garage or a fabulous workbench, they don't really need access to the garage to decide if they are interested in the house. Everyone knows what a garage looks like.

12 years ago when we bought the house, we are in now the Garage was not accessible because of a large dog and the powder room was not viewable because it housed the cat. This was during the open house.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:24PM
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Sorry, but that's bad advice IMHO. If I'm taking the time to view a house, I want to see all of it. As a DIY'er who spends a lot of time in my garage not being able to view it would be an instant turn off. I would probably leave and not return.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 3:08PM
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your option, of course.

but if you liked the house, it would be foolish to "punish" the sellers for having pets;
you might be punishing yourself.

The only way I know to guarantee that there won't be special showing instructions (people have Christmas parties, they have children, they have flu) is to look at only new homes & vacant houses.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 10:44AM
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Sorry, no. You want me to buy your house? Spend $250,000? I would kind of like to see what I'm getting, including that powder room and the garage. There are plenty of other homes with owners who are actually trying to sell their houses.

Back to the OP, I think the large cages are a great option, but I would offer that you really should have a non cat person over to make absolutely sure it doesn't have that "cat" smell.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 11:38AM
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I realize that may have come off as harsh, but how badly do you want/need to sell? I say that because some people honestly do sell "casually" - if it sells, it sells; if it doesn't by a certain time, nbd pull it off the market and try some other time. Others HAVE to sell.

I'm sure that people who aren't accommodating eventually do sell, but how much more quickly could they have sold?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 12:35PM
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they don't really need access to the garage to decide if they are interested in the house. Everyone knows what a garage looks like.

Actually, for my DH, the garage is the only thing he cares about. Not being able to see it would be a dealbreaker for him.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 12:37PM
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Not seeing a room would be a deal breaker for me too. I always look at the garage. I'm checking to see if it is deep enough for the camper, can I park two SUV's side by side, how much junk can I stuff in there and I've also learned to look for number of plug-ins. It's also nice to see if that is the attic access and am i going to have to climb a ladder to get there.

I tried to kennel my cat in the garage a few years back when I was showing my house to the realtors. She meowed the entire time. Fortunately, we had moved out of the house by the time we got it on the market.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 1:05PM
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bagergrll - I didn't view your comments as harsh.

Our garage is just a simple one car garage - clearly no room for an RV, or large workbench...barely fits a full-sized car. There are a row of windows in the garage door. But I agree potential buyers will want to see it (other than just through the windows). Cats may get free roam of the garage after the showings die down but I'd still like to have them in their cages when I know the house is being shown.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 2:26PM
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Selling an owner-occupied home is different from selling a new home or a car or a boat.

It's unreasonable to demand that sellers turn their lives inside out to accomodate a potential buyer.

It's a good idea to check out the house first, before you refuse to see it;
if it sounds like a possibility, work with the seller's understandable limitations.

If the house has potential, the very worst consequence will be making a second appointment, & most people don't buy a home without seeing it for a second time anyway.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 5:19PM
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I agree with Sylvia. If anyone is interested in your house and they have to come back to see the garage, they will, or they weren't really interested to begin with. But if you crate the cats in the garage, you can let them in anyway. If you boarded them or put them in the vet's office, they'd be caged. So don't feel bad. They might meow. They'll get over it. You can let them out at night when you come home.

I think that's wonderful that you wouldn't consider returning them to the shelter. You're going to get good luck for being a good person!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 11:22PM
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Whatever you do, I think you need to take the cats to a vet to evaluate what is wrong with them. 12 years old is not elderly. Cats routinely live to 15 and frequently to 18 and older (I had one reach 20). Vomiting is usually a hairball thing, which can be controlled with diet. If they are not using the litter box they could have a health issue or they are POed about something. For two cats you should have at least 2 boxes. Are you cleaning the boxes at least once a day? Have you tried switching the litter (we've found World's Greatest Litter to be great, worth the money because it lasts much longer).

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 8:52PM
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Sue, you are right about that. My cats very rarely puke and have never not used the litter box. That's a good point. Could solve the whole problem.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 11:23PM
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Sue - cats have been to the vet numerous times. The one is diabetic (being effectively treated with prescription food) and has bladder stones. The other is a compulsive licker (half bald) and apparently depressed - after numerous tests ruled out everything else.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 10:07AM
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