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

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! 🎄

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 November 30

Some interesting shots in today’s Caturday post.

Let’s start with some cat ID: Pommie (left), Spud (deck), Porcini (right):

Pommie (left), Spud (deck), Porcini (right)

An alien cat:

Alien cat

Porcini peeking at me from the cabin as I walk past:


Two cats, in a picture taken from our deck (you may have to look closely to see the second one):


There were actually three cats; a third on a rock, visible from a different angle:


Three cats at the feeder:

Three cats

A raccoon encounter at the cabin:

Raccoon encounter

Raccoon encounter

Raccoon encounter

All five cats in an iPad screenshot: one in the cabin, three on the cat deck, one in the feeder:

All five cats

A closer look at the four cats at the cat house:

Four cats

Plus one cat in the cabin:

Plus one cat

Three cats inside:

Three cats inside

The food ran out, so I did an evening food top-up:

Evening food top-up

Pumpkin is a big reason for the food running out; I’m going through the food much faster since he started hanging out:


A cat sitting on our front steps:

Cat on front steps

Two cats inside:

Two cats inside

Double-decker cats:

Double-decker cats

Cabin licks:


Pumpkin startles two others:

Pumpkin startles two others

Three cats in the feeder:

Three cats in the feeder

At the cabin:

At the cabin

Porcini on the awning:

Porcini on the awning

Three cats:

Three cats

Poppy greeting Pumpkin:

Poppy greeting Pumpkin

Pumpkin being a bit agressive:

Pumpkin being a bit agressive

Poppy and Pumpkin sleeping:

Poppy and Pumpkin sleeping

Cabin snuggles:

Cabin snuggles



Poppy would like to leave now:

Poppy would like to leave now

Cabin snuggles again:

Cabin snuggles

Cat update for week ending November 16

26 Caturday pictures today, from 111 captured this week.  (Does saying the number of the pictures in the post put you off reading it? Too long, didn’t read? Though not much reading required; easier to skim through a bunch of cute pictures than paragraphs of text. You can ignore my comments if not interested; I just like to add a bit of context.)

Pumpkin has definitely made his home in the cat house, spending most nights and much of the day there. But sometimes our ferals go inside, too:

Cats in house

Here’s Pumpkin with one of the twins in the feeder:

Two cats

And Pumpkin by the cabin:

Pumpkin by cabin

Three cats:

Three cats

Bella by the cabin (with another inside, not visible here):


Pumpkin on our deck; it looks like he may have been sheltering from the rain under our tarp-covered furniture in the gazebo:

Pumpkin on deck

(I don’t show our house very often; you can see why we call it the Yellow Cottage. The three hummingbird feeders are visible, if you look closely.)

Pumpkin looking very chill, and a twin again:

Pumpkin and twin

About to jump on the camera housing:

About to jump on camera housing

Cabin snuggles:

Cabin snuggles

Pumpkin and Porcini; she wasn’t pleased to see him:

Pumpkin and Porcini

Pumpkin looking cute:


Another shot of our deck, this time with Porcini emerging from the gazebo:

Porcini on our deck

She then jumped down off our deck next to the cat cabin:

Porcini jumping off our deck

Porcini jumping off our deck

Doing my morning rounds, I saw Pumpkin under the cedar tree. He sat there as I walked past and took his picture, then he ran off:


Next time I see him up-close like that, I should try to interact with him in a cat-approved manner (crouch down, slowly blink, flick fingers, talk softly, etc), to see if he reacts more like a pet cat or a feral cat.

Pumpkin and a twin (probably Pommie) at the cabin:

Pumpkin and a twin at the cabin

Pumpkin and a twin at the cabin



A young deer sniffing the heated water dish:

A young deer sniffing the water dish

Porcini and Bella:

Porcini and Bella

Pumpkin and a twin just hanging out together on the cat deck:

Pumpkin and a twin

Both twins:

Both twins

Porcini peeking at me from the cabin on my morning rounds:

Porcini peeking at me

Two cats at the cabin:

Two cats at the cabin

Pumpkin in the house:

Pumpkin in the house

Pumpkin squirming unconcernedly on the deck while Paladout watches:

Pumpkin squirming while Paladout watches

(Too many Pumpkin pics? Let me know.)

Cat update for week ending November 2

Some interesting developments in this week’s Caturday summary.  

Once again, it was tough narrowing down the 162 photos to just 27 in this post. I’ve omitted a lot of pics similar to ones seen many times before, but here’s an entertaining example, of a cat in the cat house, another in the feeder, and a third stretching on the tree:

Three cats

Porcini in the middle of the mostly empty fountain:

Porcini on the fountain

A couple of cats on the bench by the field:

Cats on bench

The twins by the small pond:

Cats by small pond

Cats by the bench again:

Cats by bench

Pumpkin inside the cat house, and two others by the feeder:

Three cats

Since Pumpkin has been hogging the cat house most nights, I felt bad for our ferals, with the temperatures below freezing overnight. So I decided to put the old shelter back in the garden below our deck. Similar to the cat house, it includes a heating pad to keep it toasty:

Old shelter

Here’s a closer view; I also moved the Mobile cam from the pond to watch this shelter; you can see it in the bottom-left corner:

Old shelter

While I spent all that time and money building the cat house, with room for all of the cats, they are ferals; the great outdoors is their home. And especially with Pumpkin moving in, having a second heated shelter available is a good thing.

This old shelter is a “multi-kitty A-frame”, which I think of as the cat cabin, to distinguish it from the cat house — a smaller second home for them.  Check out my old post from when I first got it, or for more of the history, see the summary of the cat house project.

It didn’t take them long to investicat it. Here’s a cat approaching the back of the cabin:

Cat approaching back of shelter

Pommie inside the cabin shelter, Porcini outside:

Two cats

Another two:

Two cats

Two cats snuggling in the cabin:

Two cats in the shelter

Two cats in the cabin, one outside:

Two cats in the shelter, one outside

Screenshot of cat cams, showing two cats in the cabin, and Pumpkin in the house:

Screenshot of cat cams

As mentioned on the Dejus blog, since it’s below freezing at night, I added heated water dishes for the cats and other animals, to provide non-frozen water. The dish only comes on when the temperature is in the freezing range, and only warms it enough to keep it liquid:

Heated water dish

Spud on the front steps:

Spud on front steps

Porcini in the cat cabin:

Porcini in cabin

Two snuggled in the cabin:

Two snuggled in cabin

Pumpkin investigating the cabin with Pommie inside:

Pumpkin investigating cabin

He was not welcome:

Pumpkin investigating cabin

And quickly departed:

Pumpkin investigating cabin

Pumpkin and Paladout had an encounter in the feeder; Pumpkin just wanted to eat, but Paladout didn’t want to share. So it went the same as usual: Pumpkin eventually gave up and went into the house, Paladout was able to finish and leave, then Pumpkin came back to eat:

Pumpkin and Paladout in feeder

An alien invader! No, just Pumpkin; he’s practically family at this point:


Fuzzy paws:

Fuzzy paws

Porcini having a good stretch on the way out of the cabin:

Porcini stretching

One of the twins drinking from the heated bowl, when Pumpkin arrived; he waited for the twin to depart. They’re slowly getting used to each other:

Twin and Pumpkin

Finally, Pansy eating from the food dispenser in the front of shop. She lives in the back, and rarely visits the front, but has figured out that she can get more food there:

Pansy in front of shop

Cat update for week ending October 26

For today’s Caturday, I had 359 photos to wade through… though it wasn’t as bad as that sounds, since most of them were shots for the three animated GIFs I made this week. If you didn’t see them (or want to enjoy them again), check them out:

  1. A night in the cat shelter
  2. Afternoon meal in cat feeder
  3. Four cats outside

Anyway, on with the regular photos from this week. There are a bit more than usual, due to some interesting events, plus a series of photos of the cat house with fall foliage. Hopefully not too many!

Pumpkin surrounded:

Pumpkin surrounded

Poppy on the deck, another cat eating, and a third stretching:

Three cats

A new alien cat turned up; at first glance could be mistaken for one of our ferals, but the markings are different, no cropped ear, and looks a bit younger:

A new alien cat

A new alien cat

Three cats:

Three cats

Two cats by the front steps:

Two cats by the front steps

Enjoying the heating pad:

Enjoying the heating pad

Enjoying upstairs:

Enjoying upstairs

Pumpkin vs Paladout:

Pumpkin vs Paladout

The twins on the deck, and Porcini on the awning:

Three cats

Three cats

I was enjoying the fall foliage, so thought I’d take some photos of the cat house and its leafy environs:

The cat house and fall foliage

The cat house and fall foliage

The cat house and fall foliage

A couple shots using the new wide-angle lens in the iPhone 11 Pro Max:

The cat house and fall foliage

The cat house and fall foliage

You can see why I have a cover over the small pond! (I brushed away the leaves from the cover after taking this picture).

Back to the cats… four of them:

Four cats

Two cats on the bench by the field:

Two cats on the bench by the field

A cat walking from the bench to the stream for a drink:

Cat walking from the bench to the stream

Back to the bench:

Back to the bench

A cat on the bench by the fountain; I should put those cushions away for the winter, but they are enjoying them so:

Cat on bench by fountain

Poppy and Pumpkin inside:

Poppy and Pumpkin inside

Poppy and Pumpkin inside

Pumpkin in the feeder:

Pumpkin in the feeder

A screenshot of my iPad cam viewer app, showing Pumpkin on the deck, Poppy in the shelter, and one of the twins in the feeder:

Screenshot of Pumpkin and two others

Three cats:

Three cats

Three cats inside:

Three cats inside

Poppy and Pumpkin happily sharing the shelter again:

Poppy and Pumpkin inside

Poppy and Bill the Cat, I mean Pumpkin:

Poppy and Pumpkin inside

Poppy and Pumpkin inside

Bella peeking around the corner at Poppy on the deck (and another eating):

Three cats

Afternoon meal in cat feeder

I enjoyed making the cat shelter GIF yesterday, so thought I’d make a time-lapse GIF for the cat feeder, too.  Both were generated by individually capturing a bunch of photos from the cam viewer, carefully timing them to be evenly spaced, then running them through Retrobatch, an excellent image conversion app for macOS, to read in the files, scale them, combine them into an animated GIF, and write that out.

For the cat shelter one I captured 106 images at 5 minute intervals; for this one I captured 57 images at 30 second intervals.

This was from yesterday afternoon; I noticed they’d eaten all the food, so I dispensed more, and three cats arrived to chow down:

GIF of cat feeder