Flower Lady asked for more info re our cat yard. The "yard" began in February as an attempt to fence Willis and his cohorts, Sadie and Sally, away from the bird feeders.
J. had a short roll of tall heavy woven wire left from fencing the main garden.
By early March we had expanded the idea to give our indoor cats a breath of "fresh air" and a chance to enjoy the spring sunshine first hand. The dining area sliding door opens into the yard. The boundaries were easily worked out with the cement block wall of the basement bulkhead on one side and the heating/cooling unit just inside the other boundary. Beyond that are hydrangeas.
There is a shrub [burning bush] in the yard which offers summer shade, as do
the maples just outside the yard.
Chester taking the air.
Willis, outside the fence, keeps an eye on Wilbur/aka Chopper who is inside the yard with his sister, Willow.
The kittens are spending the afternoon outside in the company of Maisie, the amiable but not bright momma cat [now spayed.]
About 10 days ago racoon sampled the sweet corn. It wasn't ripe but they knocked down several stalks, incurring J.'s wrath. He commandered the cat yard fence to wrap around the stand of corn
in the lower garden.
The cats were without a playground for several days.
Mid week J. bought a new roll of wire and metal fencing stakes.
The wire is not as tall as the first fence, but none of the cats have noticed this.
The new yard is squared off more neatly than the hasty original, but essentially the same size.
Willow and Wilbur took turns hanging perilously in the shrub.
Time to sharpen our claws.
I took a chair, a book and lemonade into the yard for a half hour.
Maisie stretches beneath the chair and the kittens have hidden in the cool grassy spot behind the heat pump.
Prior to the move to Wyoming, our cats were always indoor/outdoor cats. I went to great effort to round them up and have them inside at night. Over the years there were two or three road casualties. Almost more distressing were the times that a cat simply went missing--never seen again. As we acquired new young cats in Wyoming I knew that I didn't want that kind of uncertainty for them--too many predators, too many ways to "lose" a pet. On the few occasions that a cat has dashed outside, recapture has been anything but easy.
Chester, who is congenitally stupid, spent two 48 hour spans under the front porch--because he was too frightened to emerge after dashing out. Charlie-cat [source of half the stupid genes] has gotten out and then had no idea that the two people trying to round him up are the same whom he sees inside every day.
Litter boxes and an ever renewed layer of cat hair are small prices to pay for knowing the where-abouts of the cats.
That said, to introduce the three [now five] barn kittens as house residents would be madness.
While they were/are kittens they were/are caged each night
As I typed the above, yesterday afternoon, the kittens were resting in the cool grass of the fenced yard. Tired from their excursions up and down the bush, they flopped in a heap of
stripy tails and white paws--docile, sleepy.
J. and I took turns checking on them every 15 minutes or so.
Then J. hurried in and asked, "When did you bring the kittens inside?"
Round and round the yard we went, looking for any spot of loose fencing where a kitten
might have wiggled through.
I found the escape route only after getting down on hands and knees just outside the fence.
Pushing aside the scratchy clutch of hydrangea leaves, I inserted my hand between the wall of the house and the curl of the fencing. It seemed incredible that even a very determined little creature could slink through that small space. But, the kittens were gone.
I felt like a mother who has misplaced her children--irresponsible, somehow, foolish.
An hour later, crossing the yard I spotted the kittens scuttling into their old haunt--the woodshed.
They sat and beamed me innocent big-eyed glances before disappearing between the
stacked chunks of wood.
By sundown the kittens had migrated to the garage; they scooted behind the welter of J.'s tool chests, bins and machinery as I triumphantly lowered the overhead door. Moments later I had Willow by her scruff, having lured her with food from a newly opened tin. Boy-kitten was elusive. We shone the flashlight along the garage wall, watched while he slid behind bulky objects.
"Right," I said tiredly. "We'll go with the hav-a-hart trap again!"
The trap was empty when I checked at midnight, and behind a row of shovels and such a small whiskery face blinked up at me, pupils wide in the white glow from my light.
The bowl of kibble in the cage enticed our fellow at some point.
A plaintive squalling greeted me as I entered the garage a bit after six A.M.
The kittens are turned out in the office/spare bedroom. Mostly they scuttle under the bed when we enter.
But--I don't plan to give up my desk. Sooner or later they have to decide that I'm part of their world.
Maybe it will be sooner--Willow emerged for a moment just now, contemplated me with spiky tail raised in tentative friendship. She declined to come nearer, but if nothing else, I will soon be associated with FOOD!
Future outings in the cat yard are still under consideration.