/ Home & Energy

Animals, pets and DIY: do they ever mix?

pets and DIY

With the bumper Easter bank holiday weekend now upon us, many of us will be turning our attention to home improvements, but has an animal or pet ever hindered your progress?

Last month, one of our Which? Trusted traders, South West Plumbing, tweeted (how apt) us to let us know there was a bit of a flap on – they’d received a call from an elderly customer, who said she could hear something behind her gas fire.

One of the company’s engineers, Tom Martin, discovered the noises were being made by a stricken bird, who’d got himself stuck behind the fire.

Fortunately, Tom was able to free him (shortly after naming him ‘Percy’) and release him into the back garden.

Trainee business manager Jamie Stockbridge told us incidents like these aren’t too uncommon – South West Plumbing has itself rescued a number of other birds in the past couple of years – more often than not a result of clumsy critters sitting on chimneys without guards.

But with the Easter weekend heralding the start of the DIY season, and the likelihood that some of you will be spending some of it doing home improvements, a spot of spring cleaning or gardening, we’re wondering if a wild animal or even a pet has ever hampered your handiwork?

Nesting birds

With the recent warm weather, many of you will be eager to get on the garden.

But if you intend to cut back trees or trim your hedges, make sure you check for nesting birds first, as it’s an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.

Avoiding a cat-astrophe

When doing jobs around the house, always factor in your pets, keeping them out of harm’s away, especially if you’re using machinery.

Indeed, one colleague learnt this the hard way when a gas engineer had the floor boards up in her home to fit the pipes to a new boiler.

No sooner had the engineer left, she realised her housemate’s kitten was nowhere to be found.

After a frantic search, she heard him mewing from underneath the carpet and boards in one of the rooms where they’d been pulled up. Cue much upheaval to rescue him!

And if you have a trader in to do the job, make sure they consider your pets, too.

As Jamie from South West Plumbing says:

‘We have customers who ask us to make sure doors are always closed because their pets are domestic – we haven’t lost anyone’s moggy just yet!’

So, has an animal or pet hindered your home improvements? What happened?

Happy Easter!


In my parent’s house their cat went up into the loft one time when my father was fixing something. He had not realised and closed the hatch after he came down. Her absence was eventually noticed and she was rescued having had a good sleep on the fibre insulation which had to be carefully brushed off before she attempted to clean herself. In my first house my cat would follow me up into the loft but because the ladder was aluminium and rattled a bit I was always aware and brought her down before closing the hatch.

I wish pets would be more useful when doing DIY and fetch the tools on command or hold the workpiece still while drilling. I don’t mind our cat watching me hang wallpaper but it’s a nuisance if they jump up on the pasting table.

My next door neighbour’s cat has sneaked into my garage workshop a number of times while I’ve left the door open and then become locked in. Somehow, my neighbour hears it and comes round to rescue it. As we are detached and separated by a tall hedge we don’t see a lot of them, so it creates an opportunity for a chat.

Monty Don’s dog carries packets of seeds for him so they can be (slightly) useful.

Lifting the floorboards to rescue a cat reminds me of “The Plank” with Eric Sykes, Tommy Cooper, Jimmy Edwards and other classic characters. Laying floorboards in a new house, one plank short, a kitten they give milk to and after nailing down the final board….no kitten. Must watch it again.

I’m curious as to why the header differentiates between animals & pets. Which pets are not animals?

You can have electronic pets. These might actually be usefully programmed to help with diy.

Phil says:
16 April 2017

Wild birds like the one in the article. I became quite adept at removing my mother’s gas fire to rescue birds that had got trapped in the chimney. Last year I had a crow down my chimney whilst I was away, open fire so it got into the house and must’ve been there for 2-3 days. By the time I got home it was sitting on the bed exhausted and had left me with a major clean up operation.

My cat was a devil for scrambling up ladders to see what you were you doing and when I was working under the car had a habit of batting spanners out of reach.

As a child I kept a hamster (a large cordless mouse) as a pet. They were about as durable as modern appliances, so I actually had a succession of hamsters. Hamsters are very good at escaping from their cages and fond of gnawing. My mother was not pleased when one corner of the Axminster proved attractive as bedding material. My first hamster gnawed electrical cables. I remember my father asking me to replace the mains lead on the TV because the hamster was nearly through to the live conductors. My hamster encouraged my to do DIY – both replacing cables and improving the security of the hamster cage.

I recall it was difficult to get our goldfish to do much around the home, but it provided a colourful moving image in the living room in its bowl on top of the piano. The cat enjoyed it.

It reminds me that colourful things that dangled from the ceiling on wires and spans and swirled in the breeze were called ‘mobiles’ until that word was captured for something else.

Our goldfish wasn’t much of a conversationalist. The dog at least looked attentively at you.

I was painting a window when a cat jumped in one of the open windows, walked along the sill leaving paw prints in the wet paint and then jumped out the other open window. I was not happy!

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