Pumpkin does paperwork

Pumpkin does paperwork

Friday, April 21, 2017

Rafter-mounted cat enclosure and "catzebo" give indoor cats a taste of the outside world

Cats love high places. This project gave our three cats a lot more protected places to hang out and safely watch their world from several vantage points.

Binky Inspects the new "rafter cage."
This rafter-mounted cat-safe enclosure is constructed with 2 x 2 cedar and pine, and hung from the rafters under the eves of our house. The bottom of the enclosure is about 78 inches off the deck outside the house so we can walk under it and still see out from inside the house.

Rafter cage is hung with 3/8" lag bolts.

In the window behind the enclosure, I have installed a DIY-modified cat-door designed for a sliding glass window. The rafter enclosure is 60 x 23 x 22 inches, is lined with 2-inch by 3-inch black-plastic-coated welded wire, and has a 1/2-inch plywood floor.
Baxter and Brodie enjoy their new view of the world.
There will be additional components added to this project as I expand our cats' domain, which is why there is an arched opening apparently leading to nowhere. See below for image of the completed 12-foot mesh-enclose cat-walk "bridge" between the rafter enclosure and a 7-foot gazebo which has already been made cat-friendly and cat-safe with welded wire mesh and perching shelves.

Inside the "catzebo."




In the video above, we introduce our cats to their new real estate. Since completion of the rafter enclosure, they have been enjoying the extra space every day and evening, and new view of their world.

Completion of the catwalk

After the catwalk was constructed and installed, all our cats now enjoy extra space and things to do.

The completed and installed catwalk.


Everyone enjoys the view!




REVIEW: Four Commercial Cat Barrier and Fence/Enclosure Products

Updated - 4/2017

You want to keep your cat safe when she is outside. There are many risks; other cats, predators, disease, traffic and other dangers. - and if your cat likes to "roam", you know what I mean. Black cats are especially vulnerable around Halloween.

The purpose of a cat barrier/cat fence is to give your cat access to the outdoors while keeping her safe. Most barriers are also designed to keep neighbor cats and other animals out. A cat barrier can significantly reduce many of the greatest risks to your cat; give you peace of mind, and help keep your vet bills down. An effective cat barrier may also prevent the need for a completely enclosed cat run area which can get expensive and can make your house look like a zoo. Your "inside" cat may even be able to safely enjoy the outdoors. This can do wonders for making her happier and healthier.

There are a number of different types of cat barrier and fence products which let you turn your cat's natural environment - your yard, into a cat-safe outdoor play area without cramping your sense of decor. Each product takes slightly different approaches to the protection of your favorite feline. They are all similar in that they use variations of plastic netting and a series of hardware brackets and/or posts. Some of these cat fence products are reasonably unobtrusive and do not adversely affect the look of your home or yard. You can greatly improve your cat's protection, and still not feel like you're living in Fort Knox.

All of these companies sell their own complete cat barrier products, solutions and accessories. Several companies sell components separately, so you don't have to purchase complete products to get the components you need for an effective protection solution. All of these products can be assembled and set up with basic tools and none use electricity or electronic deterrent methods.

The products and components covered in this article are as follows:
Affordable Cat Fence
This is a "fence-topper" product which uses 36" wide plastic mesh which can be attached to an existing chain-link, masonry, or wooden fence with large washers every 4-6 feet. The mesh is hung from one-piece metal stanchions attached to the fence at regular intervals.

What I like about the Affordable Cat Fence product
  1. Metal brackets or "stanchions" are only one piece, easy to install and they position the top of the plastic netting higher up.
  2. Plastic mesh netting is not very visible
What could be improved-upon with the Affordable Cat Fence product
  1. Plastic netting itself is thin and tears easily.
  2. Plastic netting is attached with large washers at regular intervals. In order to keep a determined and strong cat from getting under the edge of the netting, the netting has to be stretched tight and washers have to be spaced only inches apart which greatly increases the installation time and makes it more time-consuming and harder to make necessary repairs.
  3. Appearance of the completed installation is not as visually attractive as components from other companies.
  4. After several years in the sun, the netting expands, droops, and becomes brittle and weak.
Cat Fence-In
Cat Fence-In "fence topper" installed
This product is also a "fence-topper". It uses 36" wide thin plastic netting with a strong plastic band woven into one edge. The band is secured along an existing masonry or wooden fence, and the non-banded side of the netting is hung from articulated rod-brackets attached to the fence at regular intervals. Cat-Fence-In also offers tree guards, special hardware for using their product with gates and other products for different situations.

What I like about the Cat Fence-In product
  1. Plastic netting attaches to the fence with a thick plastic band which is very effective at keeping cats and other critters from getting under it.
  2. Plastic netting is not very visible
  3. Metal brackes are adjustable and attractive
What could be improved-upon with the Cat-Fence-In product
  1. Netting itself is thin and tears easily.
  2. Plastic band can actually cut the netting if it is "worked" by a determined cat long enough.
  3. After several years in the sun, the netting expands, droops, and becomes brittle and weak.
  4. The two-piece brackets can loosen up over time and cause the vertical part to drop, lowering the edge of the netting and opening a possible escape route. Occasional inspection is important.
Purr...fect Fence
This product is available in two configurations; a free-standing post-based system, and a "fence-topper" for existing wooden or chain-link fences. Posts are driven into the ground and topped with spring-loaded articulated "arches". A tough plastic mesh is attached with zip-ties. In the free-standing product, the mesh hangs down to the ground and a strong metal wire mesh "chew guard" is installed along the bottom to prevent cats and critters from getting under it.

What I like about the Purr...fect Fence product
  1. Very secure
  2. Can be adapted to just about any yard or outdoor space
  3. The company provides an instructional video to help you set up and install the product
What could be improved-upon with the Purr...fect Fence product
  1. Expensive (as compared to other solutions)
  2. Time consuming and tedious to set up.
  3. Requires ground soft enough to drive in 18" x 1-1/2" pole stakes and 12" wire stakes.
  4. Not very attractive and is very visible
Portable dog kennels
10' x 15' Options Plus dog kennel installed
There is a great variety of products like these which can be purchased from several retailers, including Home Depot, and online through Amazon.com and others.

Modular metal kennel components are a great option when space or permanence is at a premium. Pieces can be fitted together in a wide variety configurations. You might not think of using dog kennel components for a cat enclosure, but I've noticed many kennel products specifically marketed as "cat enclosures" are too small and not modular enough for different sizes and configurations. Products like these offer several kennel sizes, styles and finishes, roofs, panels and accessories. The kennels are constructed from 5' x 6' panels connected with simple metal brackets.

What I like about the dog kennel products.
  1. Very secure and sturdy
  2. Sets up fairly easily
What could be improved-upon with the dog kennel products
  1. Components are large and cumbersome
  2. Panels shorter than 5' wide would be nice for more flexible configurations
Recommendations
All these companies have great customer service. They are also good at helping you determine what you need for your particular situation. If I had to pick one, the most practical seems to be the Cat-Fence-In product, however, my experience has shown the best solution seems to be combining components of several products for a customized solution that fits your needs.

There are many other enclosure products available in many shapes, sizes and configurations for both indoor and outdoor applications. This review only covers the four products I have actually used in the process of providing safe, outdoor space for our 3 cats.

Update...

I am adding the following website resource as a very promising option for cat containment. Although I have no personal experience with their products, the modular "Cat's Den" system looks very durable and practical.

http://habitathaven.com/

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Low-cost Ways to Protect your Cat from Outside Dangers

Commercial "catio" enclosures, components, cat-proof fencing, fence toppers and kennels can be expensive. Even many DIY projects require materials and tools. Many loving cat owners don't have the resources or technical ability to construct elaborate outdoor safety zones for their four-legged feline family members.

Raise or convert your cat as an indoor-only cat.

This is of course, the least expensive way to protect your cat from outside dangers. There is a common perception that cats must live outside in order to be happy. Cats can be perfectly happy in an all-indoor environment but there are some caveats. A single indoor cat will be much easier to manage than multiple indoor cats. Indoor cats may require more interaction, playtime and attention from their owners, in addition to the use and inconvenience of litter boxes.
  • You will need at least one "scratching station" for each cat to keep your furniture in good condition. Basic scratch boxes, posts and similar commercial products are fairly inexpensive.
  • Cat toys and such, but you don't actually need to buy anything. There are plenty of items around the house which can be made into cat toys. Our cats are perfectly fine with a wadded up ball of tin foil, or piece of cardboard hanging from a string. 
  • Cat grass as a dietary supplement.
  • Dried catnip (optional) 
Build a small outdoor "safe area" out of scrap wire fencing and chicken wire with a connection (kitty door) to your home.

This one I built is connected to a larger cat-safe yard but the concept is the same:

http://www.catcluez.org/2011/03/kitty-kafe.html


This one is a bit more elaborate, but the materials cost was under $50:

http://www.catcluez.org/2014/11/kitty-porch-protects-indoor-cats-from.html



Saturday, April 9, 2016

Local "Catio" Tour Demonstrates Creative and Effective Protection for Cats

Street sign
Our local SPCA and Native Animal Rescue organizations along with volunteers and 11 area cat enclosure "catio" owners - including our location - band together to have Santa Cruz County's first annual Catio Tour.

We opened our catio creations to the public in hopes of inspiring other cat owners to consider building protective enclosures for their cats.
Catios protect cats from predators, fights, disease and many other dangers, not to mention potentially lowering one's veterinary bills. Catios also protect local birds and small native critters from predation from house cats which can seriously impact native animal populations.

Curious cat owners check out our "catzebo" and "catwalk"
Curious cat owners tour our "catzebo" and "catwalk"Our visitors had many questions about costs, construction, acclimating cats with catios. As I point out here at CatCluez, you can spend as little or as much as you want. The primary goal of a catio is to provide a safe, enriching environment that gives your cat a taste of the outdoors. This works especially well with "indoor" cats. Even previously free roaming cats can adjust to the catio lifestyle.

Thanks to these local agencies, local businesses and all the volunteers, the first annual Santa Cruz County Catio Tour was a great success, despite the weather.


REVIEW: "Ideal Hefty Pet Side Sliding Window Insert"

For a long time I was looking for a good-looking locking pet door that would work with a horizontal sliding window. I had seen the kind that installs in full-sized sliding doors, but hadn't ever seen one designed specifically for horizontally-sliding windows, which are similar to sliding glass doors, but smaller.

I discovered this item while I was shopping for an electronic pet door for another purpose. This product is a made-to-measure insert which lets you easily install a pet door in the window frame in a horizontal sliding window. I already had built a plywood structure for a smaller cat door, but it was ugly and drafty. This product seemed like a much better solution. The cat door was larger than the one I was using, so our older cat would be able to use it more easily, it provided a two-way locking mechanism so the cats could be locked in or out, it looked very functional attractive. It was available in two colors, I chose white and placed my order.

It arrived in perfect condition. The built-in window pane is glass and the construction is aluminum, very well-made. It also includes some weather stripping, a security lock and good instructions.

I removed the old home-made plywood insert and installed the new insert in the window frame. I had to use weather stripping on both sides of the insert, so the weather stripping that came with the product was about 1/2 of what I needed. Fortunately I had some lying around the house.

To secure the sliding window up against the insert and to prevent being able to open the window from the outside, a block-type lock is provided which requires that you drill a hole in your window frame. I opted to cut a piece of wood to drop-in between the left side of the window frame and the right side of the window slider so I wouldn't need to drill into my window frame.

We've been using this product for about two weeks now and it is working perfectly. It looks good, is secure, and weather-tight, and lets more light in becuase of the glass pane above the pet door section. I highly recommend this product to anyone wanting to control their cats in and out access through a horizontal sliding-window and maintain an attractive look.

I purchased this item from the following website:
http://www.moorepet-petdoors.com/