Cat update: the door experiment and food error

This past week the cat house had an experiment with their front door, and a feeder malfunction, among other things.

But first, a historic event: all five cats inside the shelter at the same time. I haven’t seen this before; the most I’ve seen is four at once:

Here they are all outside:

The next day, one of the cats (probably Spud, that scamp) was playing with one of the thermal mats in the shelter. These have foil or something inside to reflect the body heat of the cat, helping them keep warm (in addition to the heating pads on the bottom level). So they make a fun crinkle noise when moved:

He pulled it down to the bottom level:

So I decided to screw them down, so that wouldn’t occur again. Just one screw and washer for each so far, though I may add another later.

While I was there, I also started an experiment to see if the cats could figure out the front door. When I built the shelter, I installed cat flaps on the front and back. The front one is their main door, and the back is an emergency exit, so they can’t be trapped by wildlife. But to encourage them to go inside, I have a bungee holding the door open (visible in this construction post). Now that they’re using the shelter every day, I thought I’d try removing it, so the door is closed. That’d keep it warmer inside.

But they couldn’t figure it out:

The door had a couple of magnets holding it closed, to stop it flapping in the wind, which also made it harder for them to open. So I removed the bottom magnet, to make it easier; the weather stripping around the edges still holds it closed well enough. I even propped it open with a stick:

While that worked to get Porcini to go inside, as soon as the stick was knocked away, the door of course swung shut, and she acted trapped. After a minute, she figured out the door, and exited:

But then she and the others went back to acting like they couldn’t get in. Even pathetically peering in the windows:

I felt bad, and relented. The next day, I put the bungee back on the door. Maybe I’ll try again another time, or maybe I’ll just accept that they don’t want a closed door. Even in their small old shelter, they pulled the back door flap off, and almost always went in that way, rather than the front door.

If they were pet cats, I could train them to use the door by shoving them through a few times. But that isn’t feasible with ferals. They had a strong drive to get inside, but couldn’t figure it out.

But they’ve forgiven my experiment, and are happy to be back inside:

And snuggly:

Another interesting thing this week was a malfunction of the automatic feeder. When rearranging things in the feeder cupboard, I had accidentally unplugged the feeder. It has a battery backup, so kept working, but after a few days the battery got too low during a breakfast feeding… and had a strange failure: instead of just stopping, it continuously dumped portion after portion of food, ending with a huge pile:

Fortunately I saw this happening on the camera, so went out there to fix it. I plugged it back in, and scooped up a bunch of the excess food.

A few hours later, I captured some video of the cats playing on the deck and awnings:

Did you watch my Cats Playing in the Sun video on YouTube? Check it out!

Apparently I didn’t scoop away enough excess food, as there was still quite a bit left that evening… but fortunately no raccoons or possums visited, so the cats got to enjoy midnight snacks:

Yesterday, Porcini and Spud had a difference of opinion (Porcini wanted to sleep, Spud wanted to play), resulting in a bit of fighting inside:

But as usual, things ended peacefully enough, after Porcini put Spud in his place.

Another screenshot from my iPad, showing cats in all four cameras. This time, the shop cat is Pepper, the fluffy black cat that sleeps in the front of the shop, and just comes to the back to eat:

Lastly, some cute snuggling from this morning:

Tune in next week, same cat-time, same cat-channel. 😸

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