Cat update for week ending November 21

A happy Caturday to you.

Here’s Spud on our front steps:

Spud on front steps

And in the breezeway:

Spud in breezeway

Poppy and Porcini snuggles:

Poppy and Porcini snuggles

A GIF of snuggles (previously posted on my personal blog):

Snuggles GIF

A cams app screenshot, showing four cats:

Cams screenshot

(The outside cam is still offline, though I have received the replacement; just need some time to set it up.)

Spud between the cabins:

Spud

Another screenshot, this time with five cats:

Cams screenshot

When refilling their food, I flushed Poppy out of the cat house; she watched me from a safe distance:

Poppy

Porcini and Poppy licking in somewhat different ways:

Porcini and Poppy

Two cats; one on the cat deck, one near the lantern behind the tree:

Two cats

Cat update for week ending November 14

Happy Caturday!

Let’s start with a screenshot of my cams app, showing two cats on the deck, one in a cabin, and one in the feeder:

Cams screenshot

Three cats outside their house:

Three cats

A photo of three cats — can you spot all of them?

Three cats

Pommie and Poppa in the cabins:

Pommie and Poppa

A shadow of a cat on the awning, peeking in the window:

Cat shadow

Paladout on the path to the pond deck, watching me:

Paladout

Four cats inside their house:

Four cats

A zoomed photo with two cats; one on the deck, one inside:

Two cats

Pommie peeking out the door of the house at Paladout arriving to steal some food:

Two cats

Spud jumping up to the breezeway cabin for a midday nap:

Jumping up to breezeway cabin

And down again a few hours later:

Jumping down

The twins:

Twins

That is the last picture captured from that camera; it stopped working after that. When investigating, I figured out why: the pin of the power supply cable had rusted off. It’s an outdoor cam, but not totally impervious to the elements. So I’ve ordered a replacement cam. (I got a “renewed” model, which is pretty cheap.)

 Spud in the breezeway:

Spud

Three cats at breakfast time:

Three cats

Spud by the cabins:

Spud

Paladout watching me again:

Paladout

Paladout

Cat update for week ending November 7

Happy Caturday folks.

In case you didn’t see it, last weekend I added an upper door to the cat house, as an emergency exit. Check out that post for details.

Here’s Porcini by the new back door:

Porcini by new back door

Two cats inside the house; the new door gives them another window to look out:

Two cats

A cat peeking around the corner of the house while I was refilling their food; very brave approaching that close:

Cat peeking around the corner

Two cats hunting for food I sprinkled on the ground as a treat (it’s a fun game):

Two cats

Looking out the back door:

Looking out the back door

A GIF of jumping out the new door:

GIF of jumping out the back door

Cats looking out both back doors:

Looking out both back doors

Another GIF of jumping out, watched from below:

GIF of jumping out the back door

After a couple of days for them to get used to the concept of the new door, I removed the stick that was holding it open:

Removing stick holding door open

Snuggles:

Snuggles

Poppy-face:

Two cats

Poppy and Porcini outside:

Two cats

Porcini about to jump from the awning to the roof:

Two cats

More snuggles:

Snuggles

Long cat and round cat:

Long cat and round cat

Porcini licking Poppy:

GIF of licking cats

The reason I added that upper back door was as an emergency exit in case a raccoon came in when a cat was inside. Well, that happened this week, though ironically the raccoon headed straight for the upper level, so the cat was able to go out the front:

GIF of raccoon inside

A shot of the cat and raccoon:

Cat and raccoon

That didn’t put off the cats, though. Here are three inside a few hours later:

Three cats

Spud was in the left cabin, and Poppa arrived; Spud greeted him in the traditional way:

Spud and Poppa

Then Poppa settled down in the right cabin:

Spud and Poppa

Here they are again as it got brighter:

Spud and Poppa

They were both still there when I did my morning rounds:

Spud and Poppa

They didn’t even notice me standing nearby at first:

Spud and Poppa

Moments later they evacuated, then came back after I was gone, and stayed most of the day.

A GIF of contented stretching and touching:

GIF of cat stretch

Snuggles:

Snuggles

More snuggles:

Snuggles

Adding an upper back door to the cat house

As mentioned on recent Caturday posts, we’ve had a few incursions by raccoons and even skunks inside the feral cat house. While there haven’t been any cats home at the time, with them hanging out more in cold weather, I worry it’s only a matter of time.

My concern was that the front and back doors of the cat house were on the lower level, so if a cat was on the upper level when a raccoon came in, they’d be trapped, and would have to get past it to escape. Not ideal.

To solve this concern, I purchased another cat door like the existing ones to install on the upper level. I did that installation yesterday.

Here’s a photo of inside the cat house beforehand, after sliding open the front wall, that serves as maintenance access:

Inside the cat house

(If I were to build the cat house again, I would do a simpler design, with a swinging door on the side, instead of sliding the whole front wall, awning and all.)

Here is the back of the cat house; the new door will be above the existing one:

Back of cat house

I started installation by cutting a small hole through the wall with my jigsaw, to check the positioning. The wall has five layers: batten boards, plywood, insulation, more plywood, and carpeting:

Back of cat house

The small hole from inside:

Inside the cat house

I then incrementally enlarged the hole to the right size. Here’s a cam shot of me peeking through the larger hole:

Inside the cat house

Me mounting the inner frame of the door:

Inside the cat house

The completed inside frame (I planned to trim the loose flap of carpet on the ceiling, but forgot; no biggie):

Inside the cat house

(Another thing I’d skip if redesigning the cat house is the vents, which I keep permanently covered; I had thought I’d open them in summer, but the cats prefer a cozy house even in the heat of summer.)

The back view of the inner frame, before adding the outer one. The battens were removed with a hammer and chisel, and the hole cut with a jigsaw:

Back of cat house

The outer frame and flap installed. I could touch up the paint to make it tidier, but probably won’t bother, since it’s sheltered under the eaves, and hidden behind shrubs:

Back of cat house

A view from further back, of both back doors:

Back of cat house

The new door is intended only as an emergency exit, so there isn’t a platform to jump onto; they can easily jump from that height to the ground.

To let them know that it’s a door, I temporarily propped it open with a bit of wood; I’ll remove that after a couple of days:

Back of cat house

Porcini was of course the first one to check out the new door:

Inside the cat house

Peeking out:

Inside the cat house

It didn’t faze them; the feral cats are cautious, but quickly adapt to changes:

Inside the cat house

Cat update for week ending October 31

Spooooky Halloween Caturday to one and all! This week, we were visited by scary raccoon monsters, and the scariest of all creatures, a skunk.

But fear not, much cuteness was also observed.

Such as three cats in the cat house, two in a pile:

Three cats

A short GIF of a sun dappled Porcini:

Porcini GIF

And you thought a pile of two cats was cute… see if you can handle three:

Cat pile GIF

Four cats

Three cats on the edge of the field:

Three cats

I took this picture of an old iPad stand to see if it’d work for modern ones (it won’t; designed for the original only), and incidentally got a picture of Pepper in the shop, looking rather concerned at my approaching so close:

Pepper in the shop

Here’s Pansy in the back of the shop, in the center of the picture, waiting for her food to dispense:

Pansy in the shop

Since it was below freezing earlier this week, I hooked up the cats’ heated water dish. When the temperature is below freezing, it gets just warm enough to keep the water liquid (I then discontinued the other waterer, filled with leaves here):

Heated water dish

Three cats outside… or maybe four; I think one is behind the shrub:

Three cats

A family of raccoons visited the cat house, including going inside; fortunately no cats home at the time:

Raccoon GIF

An app screenshot showing raccoons on the awning and inside the feeder:

Raccoons

Close-up of a raccoon inside:

Raccoon

Later that night, a skunk also explored inside:

Skunk

The scent of those visitors didn’t scare off the cats, fortunately (must be a bug on the ceiling):

Three cats

More snuggles:

Three cats

Spud and Pommie in the cabins (Spud on the left):

Spud and Pommie

Spud and Pommie

A screenshot of Spud and Pommie in the cabins, Poppy in the house, and a very damp Paladout in the feeder:

Four cats

Three cats in the house this morning:

Three cats

Finally, the usual summary GIF of 74 photos this week:

Summary GIF

Cat update for week ending October 24

As mentioned in yesterday’s Flock Friday, it has been below freezing the last few days, which of course means the feral cats have been hanging around home more, snuggling in their heated shelters.

For today’s Caturday, a few pictures of snuggles, and several GIFs. I really restrained myself from uploading too many snuggle pics; at the end I have a summary GIF with 78 pictures, and I think at least half of them are of cute snuggling.

So let’s get a couple of those out of the way to start:

Cat snuggles

Cat snuggles

Here’s a GIF of Porcini and Poppy snuggling, that I posted earlier in the week on my personal blog:

Cat snuggles GIF

As usual, Pommie has been spending most of her time at the cabins:

Pommie at the cabins

Three cats inside the cat house:

Three cats inside the cat house

Another snuggle GIF:

Cat snuggles GIF

Porcini and Pommie outside:

Porcini and Pommie

I flushed out Porcini and Poppy when visiting the cat house to reset the cameras; they watched me from a safe distance:

Porcini and Poppy

Three cats; they look like they’re telling secrets, but are actually going after some bonus food I tossed there when refilling their dispenser:

Three cats

Four cats at breakfast time:

Four cats

Three cats in the feeder:

Three cats

Four cats again:

Four cats

And four cats inside the house, which is rather unusual:

Four cats

A little more snuggling… because three cats:

Three cats

Porcini and Poppy:

Porcini and Poppy

Cats playing on the awning and jumping down from a tree:

Cats on awning and tree

A GIF of that playtime:

Cats GIF

A screenshot of my cams app showing 3 cats (deck, feeder, and house):

Cams screenshot with 3 cats

Later, four cats (cabin, feeder, two in the house):

Cams screenshot with 4 cats

And five cats (deck, cabin, feeder, two in the house):

Cams screenshot with 5 cats

A time-lapse GIF of several days inside the cat house:

Timelapse GIF

And finally, the aforementioned summary GIF of 78 photos from this week, if you haven’t already overdosed on snuggles… plus glimpses of Poppa, Paladout by the pond, and more that I didn’t include above:

Summary GIF

Added cats summary page

I have added a page on the Yellow Cottage Homestead website to summarize the history of our feral cats. Here is a copy of that as a blog post, but I will update the page over time.

When visiting the site, you can easily access the Cats page by clicking on the “hamburger” icon to the left of the title at the top, which will slide out a sidebar with links to the about page, cats pageprojects page, projects summary, and post archive options, categories, tags, and more.

———

We have two groups of feral cats: outdoor-only feral cats, and indoor-only feral shop cats.

Outdoor cats

On August 30, 2017, we saw what we initially thought was a rat on our front steps… but on closer inspection turned out to be a kitten. Watching for a while, we saw that four kittens were living under our front steps. Fortunately we were in the process of adopting Paladin, our pet cat, so we had some kitten food on hand. We put some out for the kittens. An hour or so later, their mother turned up, having caught a mouse for them to eat. She was happy to eat the food too; no doubt she was very hungry, feeding and still nursing her kittens, not to mention feeding herself.

Read the first blog post about the surprise kittens for the introduction to them; here’s a picture of three of the kittens:

Here’s the mother cat, who we named Poppy, with a couple of her kittens:

Poppy and kittens

Over time, we improved the feeding and living facilities for them, with a feeding station, a raccoon-proof feeder, a heated shelter, a custom-designed-and-built combo shelter and feeder, and more heated spaces. For details of those, check out the Cat House project summary page.

An important step with feral cats is to get them spayed and neutered. Otherwise, a family of five cats could grow exponentially to hundreds of cats, breeding out of control. To learn more about that, check out the posts on pre-baiting the cats (i.e. getting them used to eating from un-set traps), the actual process of TNR: Trap, Neuter, Return, and the followup a week later.

The TNR post also introduces the cats’ names, since that was when we first learned what their genders were (other than the mother, of course).

We have Poppy, the mother; Porcini, Portabella aka Bella, and Pomegranate aka Pommie, all female; plus Potato aka Spud, the only male. See the TNR post for close-up pictures of each.

The cats have a comfy routine of turning up for breakfast, often sleeping much of the day in the various heated shelters, with food available throughout the day, then hunting at night. They help us keep the rodent population under control around the outside of our house, and provide daily entertainment with their cuteness, but remain feral cats, wary of humans.

You can read the cat posts in chronological order, to see how it all started. And also read the weekly Caturday blog posts for updates on them.

Shop cats

We got the shop cats on July 20, 2015, from the Multnomah County Animal Services. They have a “kitties for hire” program, where feral cats off the street, that are too wild to become pets, can be given a productive life helping keep workshops and barns free from rodents. They’re basically employees: we provide a comfortable home, food, water, etc for them, and in exchange they catch any rodents foolish enough to venture into our shop.

When we first got them, we kept them in a couple of large dog crates, joined together, to give them a comfortable enclosed space to get used to. After a while, we let them out into the rest of the shop. We decided to keep them indoor-only, in part to avoid wildlife from going into the shop, and in part to protect them.

Since we got them before I started this blog, here’s a picture of Pepper soon after we got her, in the aforementioned dog crate. Her estimated age was about five months old:

Pepper

Pansy was an estimated one year old when we got her:

Pansy

Since then, they’ve settled into their routines. Pepper has a cozy nest on top of some shelving in the front of the shop, with lots of padding, and even a heating pad to keep her toasty in the colder months:

Pepper's nest

Meanwhile, Pansy watches over the back half of the shop from her nest hidden behind some chairs, also with a padded bed and heating pad:

Pansy's nest

Each has their own food, water, and litter box. The two halves of the shop are separated by a wall, but there’s a cat door, so they can access the other half if they wish, though they usually stick to their own domain.

They have a pretty cozy life, periodically paying their rent with a dead rodent left as an offering for us.

Cat update for week ending October 17

A skunk, possum, and raccoon visited the cats, plus several in-person sightings of cats, and much cuteness and snuggles. It’s Caturday!

I think this is the first time I’ve seen a skunk visit the cat house. While watching it, I was fervently hoping that nothing would startle it; I’d never get that stink out:

Skunk

A couple of hours later, a possum also visited:

Possum

Porcini and Pommie at the cabins:

Cabin cats

An in-person sighting of Porcini when refilling the bird feeders:

Porcini

I put an Eero Wi-Fi router back in the breezeway, so am now able to access that camera again. Without it, I can’t get that cam to load. Here’s Spud; he spends pretty much every night in that cabin:

Spud

Spud

Porcini and Pommie again:

Cabin cats

Three cats:

Three cats

Two cats inside the cat house. I had a spiel last time about the SD card for the cat house cam not working, but a few days later it started working again. So no need to replace it after all:

Two cats

A screenshot of my cam viewing app, showing a cat in the cabins and two in the house:

Screenshot of cams

Another screenshot, showing a cat outside the cabins, one in the house, and a possum in the feeder:

Screenshot of cams

A raccoon invading the house; fortunately nobody was home at the time:

Raccoon

Here’s a sped-up GIF:

Raccoon GIF

That sort of invasion worries me, as if a cat were on the top level when a raccoon came in, it’d be trapped, since the front and back doors are on the lower level. So, I have bought another cat door, the same as downstairs, and plan to install it in the middle of the back wall, probably on Wednesday, weather permitting (Sunday and Wednesday are my weekend days, but tomorrow looks like it’ll be rainy). Hopefully the cats don’t get upset at me modifying their house.

Poppy and Poppa:

Poppy and Poppa

Poppy wanted breakfast, so went around Poppa; he just sat there, without reacting. I’m glad he behaves nicely with our ferals:

Poppy and Poppa

Cat snuggles:

Cat snuggles

Cat snuggles

A raccoon approached the cabin where Pommie was sleeping; she was alert, but didn’t move, and the raccoon retreated. Phew:

Raccoon and cat

A live sighting of Porcini sitting on an overturned bench, and Pommie drinking from the stream, with the cat house in the background:

Two cats

A GIF of Spud running into the breezeway and up to the cabin:

Breezeway GIF

I spotted Porcini in the kitchen garden (and she spotted me):

Porcini

I also saw her on the bench by the fountain garden:

Porcini

More cute snuggles:

Cat snuggles

Here’s a GIF of Porcini stretching, licking, and snuggling with Poppy:

Snuggle GIF

A shorter, more smooth variation; can you stand the cuteness?!

Snuggle GIF

Finally, a summary GIF of this week’s 87 photos; lots more great shots not included above, including cameos of Rory and me:

Summary GIF