Cat update for week ending December 28

Let’s check on the cats.

Three cats from the temporary side cam (aka mobile cam), from before I installed the cat door:

Cats from side cam

Pumpkin peeking from inside the cat house:

Pumpkin peeking

Peering around the corner:

Peering around the corner

Porcini closeup:

Porcini closeup

Between cabins:

Between cabins



Checking out the cat door installation:

Checking out cat door installation

Um, there seems to be a hole in the wall:

There's a hole in the wall

Three cats:

Three cats

Four cats:

Four cats

Poppy and Pumpkin inside:

Poppy and Pumpkin inside

Pumpkin between cabins:

Pumpkin between cabins

Heading out, don’t mind me:

Heading out, don't mind me

Another day, both cabins occupied by the same cats again:

Cabins occupied

Paladout closeup:

Paladout closeup

Paladout arriving, watched by two others; they seem to be getting used to him:


Three cats:

Three cats

Jumping onto the camera housing:

Jumping onto camera housing

A sequence of Pumpkin squirming off the deck, while Paladout watches from around the corner:

A sequence of Pumpkin squirming off the deck

A sequence of Pumpkin squirming off the deck

A sequence of Pumpkin squirming off the deck

A sequence of Pumpkin squirming off the deck

Two cats:

Two cats

Flock Friday for December 27

The pictures this week are pretty evenly split between hummingbirds, ducks, and chickens.

The hummingbirds have been very hungry this week; I’ve been having to refill their favorite feeder pretty much every day. There are 11 hummers on this feeder; can you see all of them?


Foggy pond:

Foggy pond

The chickens have mostly kept to their own coops so far, though Lola (the introverted chicken) did spend one night in the new coop:

Lola in the new coop

Lola in the new coop



Pippin in my arms, watching hummingbirds:

Pippin watching hummingbirds

After refilling the feeder (yet again), I stood there a moment and captured them a couple of feet away:

Standing next to hummingbird feeder

Partially frozen pond:

Partially frozen pond


More frozen pond; they struggled through the ice to come see me (or rather Gert struggled while Bert followed along behind; I’m sure one could have gender commentary about that):

More frozen pond

On rounds (see Rory by the coop), the chickens rushing to the new coop, where I was dispensing treats for the chickens there:



Adding a back door to the cat feeder

As mentioned in previous Caturday posts, I wanted to add a back door to the feeder area of the cat house, to enable a cat to escape if trapped inside by another cat (let’s be honest, Pumpkin) or wildlife.

After considering various options, I decided that the best place for a door would be on the side, next to the access door. A big advantage with this location is that usage of the door would be visible from both the outside cam and the feeder cam.

Today the weather was clear enough (albeit very cold) for me to do this.

Here’s the side of the cat house, prior to installation:

Side of the cat house

A view from the feeder cam of me cutting a rough hole in the wall with my jigsaw:

Cutting a rough hole in the wall

This rough hole let me confirm the position and such:

Rough hole in the wall

I then made the hole larger, based on the cat door template, and tried fitting the door insert (a little tight here):

Larger hole and trying insert

I paused for lunch, and a cat investigated my handiwork:

Cat investigating

Me screwing the door insert into wood blocks above and below it:

David screwing insert

Horizontal boards above and below the insert give it something to mount onto.  I also (rather messily) removed portions of the batten boards:

Boards and insert in place

The outside portion of the door installed:

Outside installed

Inside; you can see the mounting boards:


Outside with screw caps:

Outside with screw caps

I touched up the paint above and below the door:




Now that I’m done, I kinda wish I had gotten a white door, instead of brown. I got brown to match the other two cat doors (front and back of the shelter portion), but those are on red walls, so brown works better; white would have worked better here. Oh well; I’m sure I won’t notice after a while, and I could replace it if it really bothers me.

Finally, a cat peeking out:

Cat peeking out

Merry Christmas cats! 🎄

Cat update for week ending December 21

It seems like just yesterday that it was Caturday, but here we are again.

Pumpkin, handsome as ever:


I’m beginning to get the impression that Pumpkin and Portabella (aka Bella) don’t get along; there were a few incidents with them this week, starting with this one where Pumpkin arrived, and instead of his usual polite hanging back, rushed forward and swiped at Bella as she rapidly egressed:

Unfriendly Pumpkin

Unfriendly Pumpkin

A cat under a tree in our field:

In the field

Porcini and Pommie:

Porcini and Pommie

Porcini and Pommie

Porcini looking at the camera, with a couple more in the background:

Porcini etc

I mentioned last time that I plan to add a back door to the feeder. I was originally going to put it above the feeder, but I decided it’d be easier and in some ways better to instead go through the wall next to the access door. So I moved the water dispenser outside, and cleaned out the leaves:

David cleaning out leaves

The water dispenser next to the heated water dish and camera:


Something’s different:

Something's different

Bella about to jump onto the camera housing:

Bella about to jump onto the camera housing

A twin by the cabins:


Bella inside the house:

Bella inside house

Pumpkin arrived, and they had another incident, with Bella and Pumpkin having a bit of a fight. Again, I think they have a personality conflict; with Poppy, Pumpkin would just hang back, but with Bella he went on the offensive:

Bella and Pumpkin fighting

After some swiping and bad language, he went out the front, and she went out the back.

Peeking at Pumpkin:

Peeking at Pumpkin

A twin (probably Pommie) and Pumpkin in the cabins:

Twin and Pumpkin

Paladout on the deck, Pumpkin approaching:

Paladout and Pumpkin

Paladout backed away:

Paladout and Pumpkin

Pumpkin started rolling around and rubbing on the edge of the deck, without a care in the world, while Paladout cautiously watched from the feeder:

Paladout and Pumpkin

Paladout and Pumpkin

The twins, looking rather freaked out by the strong winds:


And others similarly concerned:

Freaked out by wind

Paladout from the mobile camera:




I then moved the mobile camera to next to the cat house, in anticipation of installing the back door. Porcini watched me from a safe distance:




The mobile camera in a new location. Now I just need to wait for the rain to stop long enough to install the new cat door (to the right of the access door):

Moved camera

Finally, one more look at Pumpkin, half out of a cabin:


Flock Friday for December 20

Let’s take a look at the ducks, chickens, and hummingbirds over the past week.

Some pics of our ducks, Gert the girl and Bert the boy (mnemonic, see?):





A peek of Gert through the duck house:

Duck through house

The chickens in the veggie garden, coming to see me on rounds:


Chicken treats:



Ducks across the partially frozen pond:

Ducks across frozen pond


Lots of hummingbirds:




Did you see the slow-mo video of the hummers?

Another day, more of the chickens:




It’s been rather windy last night and today. This morning, I found the chair next to the duck house had blown into the pond:

Ducks and chair in pond

Cat update for week ending December 14

132 pictures filtered down to 29 this week.

The cats have continued to enjoy the new platform and cabins. Ironically, especially Pumpkin:


He’s been spending more time in the cabins than in the cat house. Here he is having a drink:


Paladout has also been showing up most days, and checked out the cabins, though hasn’t been in one:


The other cats have been enjoying them too. Here’s Pommie:


Poppy and Pumpkin are happy to be neighbors, if Poppy arrives first:

Poppy and Pumpkin

Double-decker cats:

Double-decker cats

A rapid egress from the feeder when Pumpkin comes out, due to the food dispensing:

Rapid egress

Three cats:

Three cats

Poppy and Porcini:

Poppy and Porcini

Poppy and Porcini looking contented:

Poppy and Porcini

That contentment didn’t last, though; a few minutes later, Pumpkin arrived, and was greeted (warned off) by Porcini:

Pumpkin arrives

Then Poppy had a turn greeting Pumpkin:

Poppy greeting Pumpkin

Pumpkin really wanted to hang out, though:

Under Pumpkin

He’s disappointed that both cabins are occupied:

Poppy, Porcini, Pumpkin

After a couple of minutes, he gave up and went elsewhere, so Poppy and Porcini could relax again:

Poppy and Porcini

A bit later, after they left, Pumpkin had his chance, discovered by a returning Poppy:

Poppy and Pumpkin

Four cats; can you see them all?

Four cats

Pumpkin chilling while a cat eats:

Pumpkin waiting while a cat eats

Pumpkin sleeping while I approach the bird box:

Pumpkin sleeping while I approach

Pumpkin spots me:

Pumpkin spots me

With Pumpkin hanging out at the cabins so much, the other cats can brave the house; here’s Bella spending the night:

Bella inside house

Pumpkin in the house, one cat eating, and three outside:

Five cats

A bit of a queue while waiting for Paladout to get out:

Waiting for Paladout to get out

Paladout was feeling trapped, and Poppy got tired of waiting:

Paladout and Poppy

Pommie and Pumpkin:

Pommie and Pumpkin

Again I startled Pumpkin when I approached the bird box; here’s a nice photo of him:


I did try talking to him, but he acted like a feral cat. He may be feral or stray, but doesn’t seem to be comfortable around humans. I will keep trying.

Screenshot of cat cams, showing a cat in a cabin, a cat waiting on the cat house deck, Pumpkin in the house, and Paladout in the feeder, again:

Screenshot of cat cams

Paladout feeling trapped, Pumpkin peeking, and Bella wanting to get to the food:

Paladout, Pumpkin, Bella

I have a plan to add a back door (emergency exit) to the feeder, going through the wall above the food dish.  With this happening a couple of times this week, I have made it more of a priority (probably after Christmas; won’t have time before that).

Let’s finish with a sleepy Pumpkin at the cabins:


Flock Friday for December 13

Some excitement with the chickens this week.

One of the chickens, Lola, was still outside when the pop door was closing:

Chicken outside when the door is closing

You may remember me describing her as the introverted chicken. She often hangs back, and on this occasion hung back too long, and got stuck outside.

I noticed her perching on the waterer when I checked the cams after I got in bed, so I got dressed again, put on a head-mounted light, and went out there to take her inside:

Lola on the waterer

Here’s me picking her up. I carried her out of the run and into the coop:

David picking up Lola

Another bit of excitement was that I opened the gate to the veggie garden, enabling the new girls to access that:

Opened gate to veggie garden

I also opened the hole in the fence between the two runs, so the old and new chickens can now mingle:

Opened fence hole

They are still laying eggs and roosting for the night in their own coops, though eventually I expect some will swap coops. Chickens are very slow to change.

A bunch of pictures of the chickens all together:


Chickens by gate





Let’s take a look at the ducks, too:






But we’re not done with the chickens: a few days later, Lola did it again, outside when the door was closing:

Chickens outside when the door is closing

Actually it turned out that there were three chickens outside this time:

Chickens outside

Chickens outside

I realized that the pop door controller was closing the door too early, before it was dark, due to low hanging branches of the tree by the coop shading the light sensor. So I trimmed some branches:

David trimming branches

The tree fought back, whacking me in the face; fortunately only lightly bruising me:


As usual, I left the cut branches in the run for the chickens to play with:

Cut branches

So far the chickens haven’t been caught outside again.  I have a daily reminder to check as it gets dark, just in case.

Misty pond, with the ducks heading into the house for dinner:

Misty pond

Finally, some shots of the hungry hummingbirds on the feeders:




Building a platform for cat cabins

On yesterday’s Caturday post I showed the cats exploring a new platform with two cat cabins, that I built and installed under our main deck.

Here’s more info on the construction and installation process. It was a very simple project, taking only a few hours. I didn’t paint it or do anything fancy; it’s basically just a 4×5’ sheet of OSB, with some treated 2x4s underneath for rigidity, and some blocks on top to hold the cabins in place, plus a camera housing.

Since it’s not painted, the OSB will degrade over time, but it should hold up for many years, probably longer than the cats’ lifetimes. If it is still in use when it eventually falls apart, I can always whip up a new one.

Other than the second cabin, the camera, and my time, there was no cost (though of course those are non-trivial costs). The OSB sheet was one left from the chicken coop project, and the 2x4s from various other projects.

Here’s building the platform in the (messy) workshop. I used the new cabin as a template for the blocks, which were nailed to the OSB from the bottom. The two cabins are angled so their doors point towards the camera, for a better view inside:

Building the platform

I included treated 2x4s underneath to give it a bit of strength, plus hooks to hold the wires (some of which I didn’t end up using):

2x4s and hooks underneath

Me being me, of course I wanted to include a camera so I could watch the cats in the cabins.  I bought a new one (I’m currently up to 18 cams!) and mounted it on some blocks at the edge of the platform, with a couple of bits of plywood to enclose it. The camera is waterproof, but I wanted to prevent the cats from knocking it out of position. The plywood forms a steep triangle to stop cats from sitting on top:

Camera housing

Here’s a shot of me about to cut a bit of wood, taken by that camera:


I then brought the platform, the new cabin, and various tools from the shop on a cart:

Bringing over on cart

When I got there, a cat was in the old cabin, but departed after a moment:

Old cabin position

I put the platform on the ground to prepare the site:

On the ground

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I decided to install it under the deck, below the gazebo, to shelter the cabins from rain and snow. The corner near the swimming pool area is a few feet off the ground, providing enough room for the cabins. I excavated a few inches of the dirt to give a bit more headroom:

Excavated a bit

Here’s a closer look of the dirt:

Excavated a bit

I put the platform in place, propped up on some wood to get it fairly level (a slight slope towards the front for drainage):

Propped up in place

Here’s the back corner, sitting on a rock:

Back corner on rock



Hooking up the electrical cords for the heating pads in the cabins, and the camera:

Hooking up electrical

The power cords are mounted underneath with hooks:

Power cords with hooks

I attached 4×4 posts as legs on the front:


Then used a spare bit of stained cedar (leftover from the pool deck extension project) as front trim, which serves the dual purpose of giving the platform more rigidity, and making it look tidier:

Front trim

I also used another bit of the same OSB sheet as a wall, to provide shelter from the wind and rain on the pool side:


Here are a couple of closer looks at the cabins:



The finished platform:



As I said, a very simple project. But they seem to appreciate it; the cabins have been well used by the cats so far.

A picture from yesterday’s post, of Porcini exploring the platform:

Porcini exploring the platform

A view of our deck and the platform from farther back (and if you look very closely, two cats visible: Pumpkin in a cabin, Porcini by the pool steps):

Deck and platform

Here’s a closer view, with Pumpkin looking at me:

Pumpkin in a cabin

No doubt you’ll see lots more of the platform and cabins in the weekly Caturday posts!

Cat update for week ending December 7

I made a new thing for the cats. Read on to see it. But first, the usual.

Two cats on the awning, one in the feeder:

Two cats on awning, one in feeder

Two cats in the cabin, and a third wanting to join them (it’s only big enough for two adult cats):

Queue for cabin

Four cats:

Four cats

Two cats inside the house:

Two cats inside house



Two cats snuggling in the cabin:

Two cats snuggling in the cabin



Poppy, Porcini, Bella:

Three cats

Jumping from the awning to the roof:

Jumping from the awning to the roof

And back down again:

Jumping from the root to the awning

Which of course freaked out the other two:


A nice last shot of the cabin in the garden (huh?!), with Porcini looking cute:

Porcini looking cute in the cabin

Two cats arrive, watched by a peeking Pumpkin:

Two cats arrive with Pumpkin inside

My latest project: I built a platform below our main deck, under the gazebo, to house the old cabin plus a second one. Both cabins are heated. It also has a wall to shelter them from the wind, and a built-in camera watching the two cabins:

New cat cabins platform

I’ll do a post about the construction of it tomorrow. The main motivation was that as I mentioned above, the cabin only fits two cats, and we care for six outdoor ones (including Pumpkin). While there’s plenty of space in the cat house for all of them, the ferals are reluctant to go in there with Pumpkin occupying it much of the time.

I also wanted to move the cabins to under the deck, and up off the ground, so they’d be more sheltered from rain and snow.

Porcini was the first to investicat the new platform and cabins:

Porcini investicating new cabins platform

Two cats investicating the new cabins platform:

Two cats investicating new cabins platform

Porcini inside the new cabin:

Porcini inside new cabin

I temporarily moved the mobile cam to the edge of the path opposite the platform. You can see the deck and gazebo above, the bird food box and garbage bin to the left, and the empty swimming pool area to the right. And two cats near the new platform:

Two cats near new platform



Between cabins:

Between cabins

Poppy went inside the old cabin; something I hadn’t ever seen her do before (this year anyway); it was exclusively occupied by her (grown) kittens. And of course Pumpkin had to check them out too:

Poppy and Pumpkin

Poppy’s traditional greeting:

Poppy's traditional greeting

Poppy and Porcini:

Poppy and Porcini

A screenshot with cats on each cam (5 total):

Screenshot with cats on each cam

Both cabins occupied, and a cat peeking:

Cabins occupied, peeking

Three pairs of eyes on Pumpkin approaching:

Eyes on Pumpkin approaching

Pumpkin hung out on the platform for about four hours, much to the consternation of a twin in the left cabin, and the slight interest of Poppy in the right:

Pumpkin on platform

Pumpkin on the platform:

Pumpkin on platform

This morning, contented cabin dwellers:

Contented cabin dwellers

This morning Pumpkin decided to try going inside a cabin, while Poppy watched with her trademarked grumpy expression:

Poppy and Pumpkin

He seemed to like it:

Poppy and Pumpkin

Bella approaching, before backing off when seeing Pumpkin:

Bella, Poppy, Pumpkin

As I write this, Poppy and Pumpkin are still in the cabins:

Poppy and Pumpkin

It’d be rather ironic if Pumpkin decides he likes the cabin better than the house now. Maybe the others will brave the more spacious house again?