Written by Mary Anne Miller
Living with feral cats is rewarding, challenging and at times difficult. Since most of the ferals and strays here at the house were brought here when they were older, they still possess a bit of the wandering bug. Keeping them as inside/outside cats worked for a few years (before progress caught up with this rural area). But now, with so many people moving here and roads being widened, the risks became too great. I wanted them to be able to be outdoors, but safety was paramount. After discussing the matter over with my husband, Mike, and taking a look at the most recent vet bills, we decided it would be in the cats’ best interest as well as ours to build a cat enclosure.
The plans were in my head, never committed to proper blueprints. My husband also had ideas of his own based on living with these wonderful cats for over nineteen years now.
The first thing to do was to select the proper location. I wanted it protected from the high winds that sometimes sweep off the surrounding mountains, as well as a place that would bring shade to the cats, even though we planned on putting a roof over their heads.
On the west side of the house, we found that location. There is a huge centuries-old pine tree that would offer additional shade. The area was marked off at eighteen feet wide and thirty-six feet long. We had to house over a dozen cats comfortably, many that maintain strong Alpha tendencies. We wanted to be sure to give adequate space so as not to encounter territorial disputes. My husband dubbed it "the biggest cat house around," and so we set to work.
The rest of this article is best left to the photos taken during construction. It is difficult to write about how we constructed the cat enclosure, since the plans in our heads kept changing. We knew that we had to provide a comfortable place for both the barn cats and the indoor/outdoor cats. So we set out to do just that.
My personal thanks go to my step-daughter Annette, her husband Ryan and all their kids: Kodi, Shya. Tashina, Jared, Kelsey and Danny. They gave up sightseeing around Oregon on their time with us, to help us finish this massive project. Thanks guys!
My neighbors were very glad to see this enclosure go up. Complaints about cats on cars, and hiding in sheds were becoming pretty routine in our lives. Now, not only have our neighbors stopped complaining, but we sleep better at night, knowing our beloved cats are safe!
Mary Anne Miller is a free-lance writer, and member of the Cat Writers' Association. She is a web copy writer, and passionate about feral cats/kittens and bottle babies. You can read more by Mary Anne at her Feral Cat Behavior Blog.
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