Thursday, October 1, 2009

A House for the Cats

Here's a picture of the cat house we built last weekend--the beginning of what, I hope, will be a fancier, comfier one in the near future.

It looks small in the picture, but it is pretty roomy for a night time cat pad. Its dimensions are 3 1/2 feet by 3 1/2 feet and over 6 feet tall. It has a total of 4 perches and reinforced wood floor. As of now, I put a horse blanket over the top, but I'm trying to think of something I could wrap over the top that would help keep the heat in and give them privacy.

The perches are covered in fuzzy material and I'm getting ready to add a heated perch.

No, this is not a dead animal...

It's faux fur!

This is going to be the material I wrap the lower perches in, covering a heated back pad that I can switch on and off to keep the cats warm in winter. They'll also have a space heater--one that turns off automatically if tipped.

It may seem extreme to lock them up at night, but around here, if you don't, you will certainly lose your cats to coyotes. Our "house" cats live in the garage that is attached to the house, and they have a pet door to let them in and out. So far we have only lost one of them to the Great Horned Owls. (It was a male--notoriously bad hunters). Both of the females have learned to stick to the side of the house and hide in shadows.

The barn cats are in the barn--which is 500' away from the main house. It's more likely to attract coyotes. So far, I've never seen a coyote actually in the barn. In my experience they avoid horses. And this is what I want to ask all of you about--do the coyotes around your place come into your barns? Do they come around your horses?

I'm hoping my plan works and the sweet barn cats live long, full lives mousing in the day, sleeping safely at night.

Here's a Beautiful story. We spent the whole summer putting in grass and a back patio and a HOT TUB. (After the two last "snowiest seasons ever" in Spokane, we decided we wanted to have something warm to do outside.) So, last night we were in the hot tub--which is every bit as great as we imagined it would be--and I saw a shadow moving around in the dark of the pasture.

Now, all of the horses were supposed to be locked in for the night, but I immediately realized I had an escape artist on my hands--Beautiful. So, I called her name and there came the shadow to the very edge of the pasture. What a baby!! She'd opened her stall door up and then it closed, effectively locking her out.

Later, we had to go back to the barn and tuck our baby in for the night.


  1. The cat house looks great! I think it will work perfectly, they are only in there at night!
    I have never seen a coyote around here, but I know they are here. I hear them howling, very close by, at night. I have not seen them near the horse/goat pasture's, but that doesn't mean they aren't there at night. I just lost a cat recently that I believe was taken by a coyote and a lot of people in my neighborhood are missing cats. So I know they are out there, prowling around, feasting on people's pets. It was heartbreaking to lose my beloved cat, but it is a part of life and the food chain, I suppose.
    We have a hot tub too, we love it! Good thing you saw Beautiful and were able to get her back into the barn!

  2. As far as I know, our coyotes - we have quite a few and I frequently see them - don't go into the barn. Our barn cats have their food on a high counter, and they can easily make it from there up to the loft, which a coyote couldn't get to. Coyotes often come through the horse pastures - we even had one young one who was regularly sleeping in the hay next to one of the round bales - and the horses aren't in the slightest bit concerned about them - the coyotes are more wary of the horses. We also have nesting Great Horned Owls. So far (crosses fingers) we haven't lost barn cats to either coyotes or owls.

  3. Love that cat house, and cannot wait to see how you put your tag sale finishing touches on it! The cats look pretty content there, most definitely. And Beautiful ... what can you say about that precious horse? Your story just seems to make her more endearing ... she wanted to visit you out there in the hot tub :)

  4. Paint Girl--that's sad about your cat. It probably was the coyotes. But you're right--every time I see my cats kill a bird-or worse-a baby bird--I remember--they're part of a food chain. (And then, I cry--just kidding, but I am sad). :(

    Kate--I'm pretty convinced that the Great Horned Owls are worse than the coyotes!! We have one swooping around here at night scaring the bejeebers out of all our company!

    Joanne--Yes, I think if Beautiful could, she'd jump in the hot tub, too. She's kind of turned into a people horse--or at least thinks she's my real baby or something! She's funny and endearing and an ESCAPE ARTIST!

  5. Our coyotes don't seem to come in too close. I've seen them in the neighbor's pasture and in our hay field, and I'm pretty sure I've heard them in our horse pasture, but they've never killed a cat or a chicken at our place. Knock on wood.

    Funny about males being notoriously bad hunters. We have a male who is a phenomenal hunter. Super fat, been known to take down pheasants. He's neutered, I wonder if that makes a difference?

  6. We lock up our barn cats in the tack room overnight. We lost our last one over the summer we believe to coyotes. We've never put barn cats up unitl now. Our dog kennels are at the barn so I don't think the coyotes come in but they must get close and Fat Cat was always going out away from the barn into the woods. I like your cat house...looks like fun for them.arinscry

  7. Our coyotes are well behaved. There is so much for them to eat that they don't bother hunting pets. In the country they don't go into buildings but I've seen pictures of them on trains and restaurants in places like NY.
    I love your cat house! We have wooden boxes lined with all kinds of warm bedding for our cats in an out building. We call them kitty condo's.

  8. My cats are not at risk so much as the hens that I'm eternally forgetting to lock up at night! But with Steve Holt! and Sandy spending most of their time right outside the hen house door, predators haven't been inclined to visit.

    We did have one hen disappear in the middle of the day, and I suspect the large coyote who sometimes hangs out back by the creek, which is roughly 80' from the house. My hens like to go wandering back there...silly girls. So far the cats have been safe.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.