Thanks so much to all who answered the call for help! We got many wonderful emails, many telling us things we really didn’t know. First of all it was recommended we take a look at YouTube videos and internet sites like Google and Pinterest (thanks Cathy D., Jan, Julia W., Elaine H.–also Virginia M. who noted a site that had artificial trees for cats to climb and make beds in) and even a television show-three people mentioned “My Cat from Hell”—including Eve and Julia W. I have got to take a look at that show!
So many of you wonderful people rescue cats and I want to say how grateful we all are for those who make that worthy effort. You’re the best! While searching for our three little ones, we saw so many neglected, lonely cats—it broke your heart to see them.
Besides the rescuers, we had replies from other cat experts, including Lynn G. who had been a veterinary tech and animal hospital administrator and Dee W. who used to show American Shorthairs and sent a picture of one of her gorgeous winners. There were no answers from anyone who felt you should let cats run free, but there were a couple from those who think it’s never wise to let them outside, even in cat runs or catios. It is something to think about.
Still, most people who answered had special outdoor cat areas and they had lots of good ideas for things to try. Many (including Audette R., Jan, Kimberly N. and Harriet R.) pointed out what cats like best: high shelves to aim at, opportunities to climb and scratch, places where they can watch birds (or in the case of Robbie’s sister, kangaroos!).
Michelle H. explains her system:
I carpeted a series of 2″ x 6″ flat boards and screwed them into my walls at various heights so they (I have 2 black rescue buddies) could run around my house but up high. They follow me around the house, over me, for fun. They love it!
Eleanor T. describes her enclosure:
We have enclosed between the house and garage with timber frame and shade cloth. It’s also completely covered with shade cloth. There is fake grass for them to run around on. We have put up an assortment shelves, toys etc for them to play with. They have a cat door to get in and out of the house. They absolutely love this area and it keeps them from the wildlife and vice-versa. It also is a great place for us to interact with them
Rose A. and many others reminded me that cats love toys! Melinda L. stresses cat communications—and she should know—she has 20 cats! W/F only takes cats out on leash because they live next door to foxes! Yikes! Paula used to have outside cats but now keeps them in and has plans to fence in her backyard. Brenda J. built a beautiful big enclosure which her current ten cats now enjoy. She warns against using pea gravel—it’s expensive and turns out to have a lot of problems.
Terry S. has a friend who reconditioned and stripped down an old freezer into a safe place for cats, complete with yard space:
He surrounded it with anchor mesh that was about 6.5 ft high. The area was about 12 ft X 25 ft. 3 of the cats were used to being outside cats, and I wanted them to still be able to be outside when they wanted. I took my mantis tiller, and trenched all the way around it. Then we filled it in with gravel and big rocks.
This area gave them enough space for exercise and a lounging area in their own clubhouse. They were very comfortable, and clearly preferred it to the house. The other 2, who had been house cats, liked the house.
From Douglas W., a serious plan for construction:
I would use 1/4 inch square mesh hardware cloth to prevent snakes and other animals trying to eat your cute pussy cats. With 3 cats make it about 6 foot high with it being staked down sturdy-like and even a mesh hardware cloth floor and roof in addition to the sides make it 10 to 15 feet long and at least 10 feet across it. Tie a tarp over the roof and make a few hidey-hole boxes for them along with shelving of various length and widths too. A litter box or two and a water bottle that self waters them. No feeding them outside as they will have unpleasant company coming from insects to wildlife.
Wow, this is all a lot to consider, and we are so grateful for all the advice!
Final words from June Shaw—a fellow cozy writer—who says to request advice from The Cat Writers Assn—and Cindy who leaves us with this cute saying:
“Kittens Are Angels with Whiskers”