We are remodeling a basement into an living area for our family (which includes cats). My in-laws who live on the main floor of the house are allergic to cats, so we need to find ways to create a barrier between the 2 living spaces. Any ideas how on what we can do?
Corina ~ Hartford, CT
Corina, although you do have a few options when remodeling your basement, your in-laws are probably best suited to decide if they can live with cats in their home. Some people's allergies are so severe that they could never live in the same house as a cat, regardless of the barriers that separate the cat-friendly spaces from the cat-free areas of the home. That being said, sometimes there are no good options and you just have to make the best out of a given situation. Here are a few ideas that might help you to create an effective pet barrier between the main floor of the house and the newly remodeled basement:
1. Install a separate heating system for the basement so that the two areas are not sharing a common furnace and ductwork system. Remember, if your home has a single furnace, then allergens from your cat's hair could be sucked into the basement's return air vent and then get blown through the furnace and into the house's main level via the furnace ducts. You'll be much better off with a dedicated basement heat system, such as electric base boards or some other type of ductless HVAC system.
2. Do not install carpeting in your home's basement, but instead opt for a solid surfaced flooring, such as tile, wood laminate or vinyl sheeting. These types of flooring are easier to keep clean and free of cat hair.
3. If it is possible to provide a dedicated basement entrance, then do so, because it will help keep the cats (and their hair) from migrating back and forth between the basement and main level of the house. Likewise, if you can install a dedicated pet door in your basement, then do so.
Perhaps the best way to keep your cats from negatively effecting your in-laws is to carefully manage their whereabouts and stay on top of the cleaning and vacuuming that is necessary for a cat hair free living environment.