Two cats have been visiting my backyard for the past three months. A mama – all black, and her baby – a tortie. Being soft headed I started feeding them, regularly. When I would put out their food and milk I would “meow” to call them. At this point they come to the deck fairly quickly and start chowing down; usually within 3 – 4 minutes.
This was all well and good when the weather was warm and balmy and nice. But this year we are experiencing some pretty cold nights early in the season. So, to my mind, a cat house was in order. Went on line and found a heated waterproof house – ordered it – and set it up. Unfortunately the heated part did not work out well – seems it made the baby poo – and would get too hot for them. Sent that back to Amazon.
Set up a large Rubbermaid storage box – on its side so the front was wide open – put in a fuzzy mat. They used it but it was way too exposed. So added a cat carrier – insulated inside the Rubbermaid box. Not too bad – but still too exposed – found that out when it started raining and the carrier wicked in the water.
Final phase of house construction was using blue board insulation and designing my own cat house / shelter – my own dimensions and bouts of looking up Pythagorean Theorem on how to calculate the triangular dimensions on front and back pieces to accommodate a pitched roof. I have not had to use that math since college – so was kind of fun.
Sealed all the gaps (which were minor) with foam spray insulation in a can – that stuff is amazing and actually works – put a heavy black rubberized floor mat on top – to give it some weight in case of wind conditions, measured out and cut an opening just right for them – but not big enough to allow other critters access – and made in front to back long enough that if they snuggled toward the back – no wind or rain would whip in to them from the front opening. Final touch a base to raise it all up off the wood deck and keep the bottom insulated – did not attach it to the house (for ease of cleaning) – and put in another batch of fuzzy padded pet blankets – like a sheepskin nubby type – lots of thermal radiating qualities to those.
Outcome – they love it – it works – they stay inside all night all snuggled up together. They are safe and sheltered and protected from the elements and other “critters” and seem very happy as they keep it very clean. Of course, I change out the linens regularly to launder them when they go out during the day.
Why I am pleased? Well, for one I do love animals and was delighted to be able to give these two some comfort in their lives for the return privilege of being able to watch them and their antics and their sheer beauty. Secondly, because even as I get a “tad” older (old) I was able to construct (research, draw the plans, figure the details) of their new home myself. I think we need that at every age and am glad I have opportunities to keep doing things like this – probably a minor challenge to many people – but to me was kind of special.
There is one fellow that shows up once in awhile – not so much lately – I call him Big Daddy – a huge white and grey cat. The little black mama does not like him and the baby tortie flees the scene if Big Daddy shows up – so I keep a look out and if I see him I let him eat a bit then move him along by stepping out onto the deck. He is apparently feral as well and seems not to want me anywhere near him.
Each day is a little adventure – checking on these two at first light – mama and baby – and enjoying them as they slowly make my back deck their little safe haven. In sunny warm weather they make use of the lounger and will sleep there for an hour or more. My husband has started calling me the Cat Whisperer, but I think that title is already taken by someone else. Since childhood I have been fascinated with and love cats. I grew up in New York City – older days when things were much safer and a child could walk down to the corner alone – where there were shops along the street. I would always go to the butcher shop on the corner (age 7) and he would give me a couple of slices of bologna and I would attempt to lure the shop cats back to my parent’s apartment. Usually I was successful, but my mom would not allow them inside. But they always followed me home no matter how many times they had to go back to the butcher shop – bologna is obviously a great cat lure!
Beside the kitties, I feed birds and deer and squirrels and chipmunks in our backyard. A rather pleasant little menagerie. Except of course when the cats look at the bird feeder as a cafeteria. So far they have not been successful in catching a bird and have landed in the shrubs below the feeder enough times to know the feeder is only cat TV – not a snack bar.