Recent dusting of snow

Now that the snow has all melted, and we’re probably not getting any more this season (though might), I thought I’d post some pictures of the light dusting of snow during the past week. The weather forecast was suggesting we might get several inches, but it was more like half an inch. A little disappointing, not enough to break out the snow shovel, but at least it didn’t outstay its welcome.

Here’s the brown gazebo, tree grove, and new chicken coop:

Brown gazebo and chicken coop

The mostly frozen pond, with duck paths through the thin ice:

Pond

Beyond the pond, with snowy trees down the bank:

Beyond the pond

Our back lawn, with the pond off to the left, and brown gazebo in the background:

Back lawn

From a little farther back, the path to the pond deck:

Path to pond

The stream (behind the shrubs, and currently off) and cat house:

Cat house

Fountain garden, with the white gazebo in the background:

Fountain garden

A bonus cat picture of Pumpkin drinking from the heated water dish:

Pumpkin

In front of the cat house, with Pumpkin by the dish:

By cat house

The fully frozen pond, with snow drifts on top of the ice:

Frozen pond

Our front steps and driveway circle, looking towards the veggie garden, hoop house, and beehives in the distance:

Driveway circle

The beehives; the melting in the center of the roof of each hive indicates that the bees are still alive, at least as of now; still got a few months before they’ll be able to resume operations:

Beehives

Cat update for week ending January 18

This week, the trials and successes of Bella, birds making poor life choices, and cold wet stuff.

Portabella and Pumpkin continue to not get along; Pumpkin seems to feel he has to chase her off whenever he sees her:

Bella and Pumpkin

Bella and Pumpkin

She came back, and again was chased off:

Bella and Pumpkin

Bella and Pumpkin

Bella and Pumpkin

In that encounter, Pumpkin kicked the decorative barrel off.  It was glued to the deck with the smaller ones; apart from helping the old west vibe, the barrels help hold the shelter’s maintenance door closed:

Barrel

A Steller’s Jay grabbing some cat food:

Steller's Jay

Two cats arriving, with Pumpkin in the house; he’s fine with the other cats, just not Bella:

Two cats arriving

Graupel:

Graupel

Pumpkin watching me from under the main deck:

Pumpkin

A bunch of small birds drinking from the heated water dish:

Birds

Pumpkin and Pommie hanging out on the cat deck:

Pumpkin and Pommie

A bird tried to have a drink when cats were nearby, and Pumpkin suggested that might not be wise:

Pumpkin and a bird

Pumpkin and Paladout seem to be getting used to each other; the latter saw Pumpkin peeking, but kept on eating instead of getting upset like in the past:

Pumpkin and Paladout

Pumpkin and Paladout

Pumpkin in the garden:

Pumpkin

Snowy cats:

Snowy cats

A Steller’s Jay arrives for more food:

Steller's Jay

Steller's Jay

This time, not so lucky: Pommie was in the cat house, and heard the bird:

Cat and Steller's Jay

Cat and Steller's Jay

Cat and Steller's Jay

Though I guess the bird was actually very lucky: it got the food, and narrowly escaped becoming food.

You may have seen that I added a new heated shelter in the breezeway next to our workshop. Subsequent to that, I modified it a little to make it more sheltered, by putting some old hanging baskets next to it:

Modified breezeway cabin

Bella found the cabin, and tried it out. She has spent most of the past two nights in there, which makes me very happy:

Bella in cabin

Pommie and Pumpkin:

Pommie and Pumpkin

A cat in the breezeway:

Cat in breezeway

Pommie has spent a fair bit of time in the cat house, too:

Pommie in cat house

Pommie in cat house

Bella in the breezeway again, from another angle (this camera is only there temporarily):

Bella in breezeway

Bella inside the breezeway cabin last night:

Bella in breezeway cabin

Bella having a stretch in the morning:

Bella by breezeway cabin

I’m glad that she has a comfy shelter away from Pumpkin’s usual haunts.

Breezeway cat cabin

Since we’re having freezing temperatures at present, and Pumpkin has been hogging the cat house and cabins, I thought I’d get another heated shelter for the other cats, and put it further away.

At first, I had the notion and wrote up a design to build a shelter on top of a new enclosure for our well, since the current one is kinda ugly and falling apart:

Well enclosure

Here’s inside; the well head, plus an electrical outlet that powers the chicken coops and an Eero to help spread the Wi-Fi mesh (amusingly named “Well Actually”):

Well head and Eero

But I had some misgivings with that concept, as it’d take a while to build, by which time the worst of the cold would be past, and I’m not sure they would use it there anyway, among other issues. So I decided to put aside that concept for now; I might revisit it in the future.

Anyway, I thought that a more immediate, cheaper, and easier option would be to just buy another prefab heated shelter like I have for the cabins. And that I could put it in the breezeway next to our workshop, where the cats often walk, which would also protect it from the elements:

Breezeway

Some of the cats walk through there every day, on their way to other haunts in the trees on the east side of our property.

I put the shelter on the lower shelf of the (largely unused) heavy-duty shelving in the breezeway, and (me being me) also got a camera to watch it:

Cat cabin and cam on shelf

So far, the camera has shown only a couple of cats (one of the twins, and Bella) investicating it, including going inside, but nobody has stayed for long:

Investicating new shelter

Investicating new shelter

Investicating new shelter

Investicating new shelter

Investicating new shelter

Time will tell if that is a successful location. If they don’t end up using it, I could try putting junk around it to make it less exposed, or move it elsewhere. We’ll see. At least now they have the option of another heated shelter if they want it.

Cat update for week ending January 11

This week: using the cat house a bit more, Paladout becoming accepted, Pumpkin and Bella not so much, a little snow, and more.

But first, a Steller’s Jay on the cat house deck:

Steller's Jay

Pommie (I think) and Bella:

Pommie and Bella

One of the twins inside the cat house; not sure if Pommie or Spud, though probably Pommie. They have spent several nights in the cat house, since Pumpkin has mostly vacated it in favor of the cabins:

Cat inside

Poppy entering the feeder via the back door:

Poppy going in feeder back door

Poppy and Bella:

Poppy and Bella

Porcini and Paladout seem to be getting quite comfortable with each other. Here Paladout approaches Porcini fairly closely:

Porcini and Paladout

When she turns around, he backs off a bit, but they seems happy enough; not even a warning hiss:

Porcini and Paladout

Pumpkin arrival:

Pumpkin arrival

Using the back door:

Pumpkin arrival and exit

The twins on the deck:

Twins

Pumpkin is still using the cat house a bit, typically just before breakfast, while waiting for it to dispense:

Pumpkin inside

Our dog Rory inside, watching Pumpkin by the gate (look closely… and a hummingbird visible too). She can react to seeing cats on the deck by jumping up on the window, which is strongly discouraged; we’re worried that one day she’ll break it:

Rory watching Pumpkin

The cabins with their typical occupants, Pommie and Pumpkin:

Cabins

A twin on top of the camera housing, watching Paladout:

Watching Paladout

The cat house façade and signs:

Cat house signs

A fun detail; a cactus ornament in the feeder cupboard window:

Cactus ornament in window

When I do my morning rounds, and refill the bird feeders, Pumpkin often retreats, but sometimes he stays in the cabin and watches me warily; here he was slowly blinking (cat smile) while I reassured him he was safe there:

Pumpkin in cabin

Bella and Pumpkin really don’t get along.  Here she is entering the feeder, and Pumpkin is way over by the bird feeders:

Bella by feeder, Pumpkin by birds

As soon as Pumpkin saw her, he came running up:

Pumpkin running up

And they had a bit of an encounter in the feeder:

Bella and Pumpkin

Followed by a rapid exit out the back door:

Bella and Pumpkin

Bella and Pumpkin

A tail sticking out the back door:

Tail sticking out door

Two cats watching a bird:

Watching a bird

Paladout, with Porcini peeking around the corner:

Paladout and Porcini

Paladout eating, Porcini watching from the back door:

Paladout and Porcini

More Porcini peeking, this time on our main deck, watching me inside our house:

Porcini on deck

My first hint that it was snowing the other day was seeing some white flecks on a cat in the feeder:

Snowy cat

As mentioned, a twin has been spending the night in the cat house, but Pumpkin likes to turn up in the morning to wait for breakfast. That of course led to them having a face-off, with Pumpkin outside and the twin growling and hissing to defend the house:

Pumpkin and a twin

After a few minutes, Pumpkin decided to wait in the feeder instead:

Pumpkin and a twin

A sneak peek of snow:

Snow

Cat footprints in the snow on the bird box:

Snow

We’re expecting much more snow next week, so you can look forward to more snowy pictures if that eventuates.

Cat update for week ending January 4

Some more feeder back door tweaks this week, among other things.

The cats seem to be accepting Paladout; he has been hanging around pretty much every day, and they’ve walked by without seeming concerned by him:

Paladout

A different configuration of three cats:

Three cats

Porcini closeup:

Porcini

Pommie and Pumpkin at the cabins:

Pommie and Pumpkin

Pommie and Pumpkin

Poppy closeup. She always looks grumpy:

Poppy

Some birds making poor life choices:

Birds

Porcini not at all bothered by Paladout:

Porcini and Paladout

Graceful Pumpkin:

Graceful Pumpkin

A long-distance zoomed shot of Pumpkin in the house and two others on a rock:

Pumpkin in the house, two others on a rock

Me refilling the feeder; you can see the feeder drawer out, and I’m dumping excess food into plastic bins that get stored on the top shelf:

Refilling feeder

Pumpkin looking handsome:

Pumpkin

Puzzle time; there are four cats here; can you see all of them?

Four cats

A cat peeking out from under the house, while another cat scratched the tree:

Cat under house, cat scratching tree

The cat under the house reached out and tagged the tail of the other one:

Cat under house, cat scratching tree

The latter then jumped a bit:

Cat under house, cat scratching tree

Paladout eating in the feeder, and is blocked from leaving by another cat. He considered using the new back door, but wasn’t sure about it (which is strange, since he’s clearly a pet cat, since he has a collar; perhaps his humans let him out instead of having a cat door?):

Paladout blocked in feeder

He tried to get past, but couldn’t:

Paladout blocked in feeder

Paladout peeking from behind one of the twins, who was ignoring him; the twin eventually wandered off, so Paladout could leave:

Paladout blocked in feeder

So based on that, I decided to help them further, and attached a bungee to hold the feeder door open:

Feeder door held open

Didn’t take them long to investicat the opened door:

Investicating door

Peeking in the door:

Peeking in door

They seem to like it open; they can now freely exit and enter through the door:

Entering door

Pumpkin:

Pumpkin

Going out the door:

Going out door

The original reason for installing the door: escaping Pumpkin:

Escaping Pumpkin

It was still a big step, a bit awkward, so I then added a cinderblock to make it more comfortable to use:

Step

Two cats investicating the step:

Investicating step

Investicating step

Investicating step

Finally, a harder puzzle; again there are four cats; can you see all of them?

Four cats

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

Twins:

Twins

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:

Paladout

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

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:

Inside

Outside with screw caps:

Outside with screw caps

I touched up the paint above and below the door:

Painted

Finished:

Finished

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:

Pumpkin

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:

Waterer

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:

Twin

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:

Twins

And others similarly concerned:

Freaked out by wind

Paladout from the mobile camera:

Paladout

Pumpkin:

Pumpkin

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:

Porcini

Porcini

Porcini

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:

Pumpkin

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:

Yawn

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

Pumpkin

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

Paladout

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

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:

Pumpkin

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:

Pumpkin

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:

Me

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

Leveling:

Leveling

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:

Legs

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:

Wall

Here are a couple of closer looks at the cabins:

Cabins

Cabins

The finished platform:

Finished

Finished

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!