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Cranky Tenant + Hyper Cat = Frustrated Mirinae

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure if this is going in the right forum, so please feel free to move this!

All right, here's the situation. My boyfriend and I and our two cats have lived in a wonderful apartment for almost a year now, and we really like this place -- and would be unable to find someplace this nice for as little as we're currently paying. Technically speaking, the building has a no-pets policy, but it's not enforced and our landlady knows we have the cats; she's met them and thinks they're great (they helped resolve a rodent problem a little while ago). The woman downstairs moved in about four months after us, and every time we've spoken to her, she was aware of how noisy our cats are (especially at night), but claimed she was fine with that, that they were just being cats and she "loves all animals and all life," in her own words.

Up until today, apparently, when she decided to leave us a snarky little note about how patient she's been with how noisy our cats are, and we have one night to resolve the situation. She expects the cats to be quieter TONIGHT.

Now, we have tried to calm the cats down at night, but Spike is naturally energetic (and he's brain-damaged, so he forgets where he left us, what he was doing, and where he's going) and it doesn't seem to matter what we do, he just likes racing around like a maniac late at night. We play with him before bedtime, he gets fed before bedtime (scheduled feedings: neither of our cats work well with free-feeding) ... Nothing seems to calm him down, and since I don't believe there's anything wrong with him, I'm not going to medicate him (the woman downstairs suggested we tranquilize him at night! I don't THINK so!).

Anyway, the only thing we can think of to do -- because if we don't quiet the cats down at night, this woman will complain to our landlady and that's a legitimate excuse to force us to get rid of the cats or move out, because it interferes with this woman's quality of life -- is to shut both cats up in our bathroom at night. It's a decently-sized bathroom (bigger than my sister's bedroom back home, actually!), with a window overlooking the yard where the cats can watch squirrels and sniff the night air. I've put a scratching post, two blankets and a litterbox in there (we already keep a water dish in the bathroom for the cats; for some reason, Oz thinks the water tastes better in this dish than in the one in the kitchen). They'd be shut up in there for about 7 hours, with occasional visits from me and my small bladder.

Does this sound like an acceptable (if not ideal) solution? We can't shut the cats up in our bedroom because the door won't fasten properly (and the frame is too hard to install a lock) and the (entirely necessary) air conditioner freaks them both out. There are no other rooms in our apartment where we could put the cats; I'd like to talk to our landlady about installing a folding door on the living room door (the downstairs tenant's apartment is ONLY covered by our living room; everywhere else in my apartment is over another, uncomplaining tenant's apartment), but I'm afraid if I bring the subject up with our landlady, her response will be to tell us to get rid of the cats, and that's not gonna happen.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how to deal with this, or how to improve the bathroom for our cats? I hate the idea of shutting them up all night, even if the room is pretty big, but I can't see any way out of this; our landlady likes the downstairs tenant, so she isn't going to side with us in this matter.

Sorry this is so long ... I'm just really, really frustrated by the whole situation. I mean, couldn't she have mentioned this EIGHT MONTHS AGO when she first moved in, instead of continually telling us the cats didn't bother her at all? Grrrr ...
post #2 of 10
Is there any way you can switch apartments with the lady? If you live downstairs and she lives upstairs, the cats running around wouldn't bother her at all.

I would say the bathroom idea sounds cool, as long as they don't howl to get out.
post #3 of 10
It doesn't sound like they're identical apartments though, are they?

Sounds like she's having a bad day. I would feel free to disregard a snarky note, since there's no way she can prove you ever got it and if she can't handle coming up and discussing it with you like adults then no response is really necessary. If you expect the person above you to be silent, you should be on the top floor. If you expect to never hear a peep anywhere in the building, you should live in a house. I managed to snag an apartment above the model unit on the top floor so hopefully I won't have to deal with this.

You know, my sister had two "illegal" cats in an apartment right above the building manager, and the building manager had no idea she had cats. And this was in a building built in the 30's. I doubt seriously how loud a cat's footsteps could possibly be. I know my neighbor downstairs can hear Zissou but he laughed and picked her up and petted her, and I never complain about their stereo or whatever.

Tell your landlord first, before Ms. Unreasonable neighbor gets to her. Say you are willing to try to work something out, but that she never complained for months.
post #4 of 10
I agree that mentioning this to your landlady is best, and although the situation of being locked in the bathroom all night seems inconvenient, I think that it is perfectly acceptable. You could even make a nighttime play area in the bathtub, perhaps using those new collapsible "Cat Play Cubes" ($3.99 @ KMart), and other new, fun toys that would be available only at night. Do what you can to remain living where you have been happy & is affordable; cats are resilient. You might try reading "Cat Confidential" for more ideas on how to make the best of a bad situation.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies, everyone.

No, switching apartments isn't really an option; the downstairs tenant's apartment is the size of our living room: she and another woman have apartments in the bottom half of the house, and we have one full apartment upstairs that is the entire top half of the house.

To be fair, after she dropped off the note, she and I talked about the issue. The area where Spike and Oz like to play, particularly at night, is the living room, and it's right over this woman's head. And although everyone thinks cats are quiet and agile, neither of mine are: Spike running down a flight of stairs sounds the same as a fully-grown human man (I know this because our last apartment had stairs and two fully-grown men -- Spike in motion was often mistaken for one of the guys). I can't say that her complaints aren't legitimate, because they are; I'm just frustrated by the fact that she's lived in this apartment for eight months and every time I've addressed the subject of our noisy cats, she's claimed to be fine with it, and now suddenly she wants them to be quiet or else.

Anyway, yes, I'm doing everything I possibly can to ensure the cats are happy and entertained in the bathroom (I'll look into those cat cubes; they sound interesting), I just wanted confirmation that I'm not a terrible pet owner for locking my cats up all night! And I want to speak to the landlady, but I'm not sure how to address the issue without it heading down the "well, you'll have to get rid of the cats" road. (Since I'm not supposed to have them, you know?)

Thanks again!
post #6 of 10
Hi, I would look very hard, very fast for a new place because if you're suddenly faced with no option, you could be very sorry. There has to be just ONE other place somewhere out there that's affordable and more cat friendly. You wouldn't give away your kids, would you, in a similar situation, but it sounds like you're living on borrowed time at best, and what if the bathroom thing doesn't work out? What if one or both cats starts showing their temper by peeing where they shouldn't in the daytime, or fighting with each other for territory in the bathroom, or someone forgets to put the lid down just one night and a cat slips and can't get out? Extreme I know, until the time comes that it's not, but it's better to be prepared than have to lose them, isn't it? Funny, but when I lived in Toronto 10 yrs ago, I thought a by-law was passed making it illegal to make you get rid of your cats, or maybe that was just in condos, or for cats that were already there when the law was passed.
post #7 of 10
I sympathise with your situation as I also live in an apartment block and have one very active kitten - normal running around sounds twice as loud late at night! Fortunately I'm on the ground floor, although I believe sound travels up more than down (the neighbour above me has his tv on late at night and while it's not a huge problem for me the neighbour above him is quite distraught over it! I think he gets it louder than me). It sounds like your downstairs neighbour may just be having a bad day if she's been ok about your cats up until now. How was she when you spoke to her? Did she sound like she was having a bad day or more like someone who has tolerated the noise for a long time but is now at the end of her tether? I think it would be a good idea to discuss it with your landlady before a complaint is made. That shows you're taking it seriously and trying to accomodate your neighbour. If the landlady has previously been ok about the cats and likes them she may be more sympathetic to your situation than you think, especially if she feels you're taking the other tenant's complaint seriously.

I also agree with Larke about looking out for a new place - just seeing what's out there in case the worst comes to the worst and you do have to move. Hopefully it won't come to that but it might pay to start looking now just in case.
post #8 of 10
You love your cats?
Move ASAP. to a place where your cats are welcome.
You will need to pay a pet deposit but that is really your only option.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
The way I understand tenants' rights (in this town, at least), we will only be told to get rid of the cats or move IF it can be proven that our cats are interfering with another tenant's quality of life (e.g., if the downstairs tenant had allergies -- you can't order another tenant to take allergy medicine in order to live in the same building as your cat). Since we have absolutely no intention whatsoever of getting rid of our cats, we would move if that became the case. However, after living in this town for more than eight years (as a renter every year), I've only rarely come across a place that doesn't forbid pets in some fashion -- and the places that didn't care about pets and were still within my financial means are NOT places I ever intend to live in again. (I've lived in scary places. I'm done now, thanks. ) If worst comes to worse, we can always move back in with our previous roommates, although that wouldn't be great for my mental health; they have two cats of their own, and my kitties got along great with them -- I just have a really hard time living with my old roommates.

I realize people are just offering me the best advice they have available, but moving really is a worst case scenario. This is the first place I've lived in where I've felt safe and secure and happy -- which is really why this sudden revelation from the downstairs tenant hit me so hard. No place is ever going to be perfect, and I can't move every time a problem crops up, so I'm going to have to find some way to work this out so that the downstairs tenant, my landlady and my cats are all happy. What I'd like to do is install a folding door in the living room; it won't be pretty, but it would keep the cats out of the living room at night. What would also work, instead, would be to put a folding door on the kitchen and keep them in there (it's a bigger room).

Believe me, I will be keeping an eye out for unusual behaviour in my cats, but both of them are so laidback, I don't think it'll be a problem. I'm not intending to keep them in the bathroom all day; just while we're sleeping at night. And I don't care when the lady downstairs goes to bed: our bedtime is 11pm, and that's the time the noise bylaws in this town come into effect; furthermore, I'm usually up around 5am, so that and the fact that I'm up several times in the night to go to the bathroom ... well, they won't be lonely for long. (Realistically, I could get away with keeping only Spike in the bathroom at night, because he's the "problem" cat, but having Oz with him makes him happier and calmer.)

So, thanks again for the advice. I'd be interested if anyone knows of any other kind of obstacle or door we could put in the living room or kitchen to keep the cats secure, in place of an actual door; Oz isn't much of a jumper or climber, but Spike has yet to find the vertical surface he can't reach.
post #10 of 10
Why can't the door be fixed to the bedroom? If you did that you could keep them in there at night and they would be not above the complaining neighber, not lonely, and in a bigger space. It seems like the kind of thing you could say to the landlord, like, look, if you'll fix the bedroom door (which they should do anyway) I'll keep the cats in there and there won't be a problem anymore.
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