We moved from the beautiful house with a stunning garden in Tai Po, to a flat with a terrace in Sai Ying Pun. Why? Well, high rent, lengthy travel time, and a reduction in cats! We started with 47 and we now have only 6 remaining, which in itself is to be applauded.
The last cat to move, Patches, went into a foster home on Valentines Day of this year. Here she is settling into her new foster home:
We had looked at making the terrace more cat-friendly and we finally found someone to do exactly what we wanted. Who? To my surprise our friend and dog trainer Jill, is more than a bit of a handy woman! After a couple of chats we decided what we needed and I left her to sort out her "how"...
"I'm all about environmental enrichment for captive or domestic animals. Species-appropriate enrichment can help animals live happier, more relaxed lives. "Catios" are a great way to allow cats a bit of outdoor experience without losing them, exposing them to the danger of predators, or risking the lives of "prey", like birds. A great idea for urban cats who may not otherwise be able to lay out in the sunshine or climb to a high perch and watch the world go by.
I'm also one of life's "makers". I love a challenge of figuring out how to make things, how to best utilise space and materials for the desired purpose. So, when Kirsten told me she needed help making the cat house more user-friendly, I was happy to accept the challenge, despite being allergic to cats!!
The tiny terrace had already been enclosed with wire fencing and a perspex roof to keep the cats in and the rain out, but not much in the way of catty entertainment. So i got to work!
Phase one was to build a sturdy bench to shelter the litter trays, and give the cats a nice big surface to lounge on. Previously, the litter trays had been under a very large table that, due to the size and shape of the terrace, seemed to take up half of the floor area. The table top was not very weatherproof, and the design didn't lend itself to moving it to a better position, thus wasting lots of valuable space. So, off to the wood shop I went for some nice sturdy solid wood planks, and build the bench to fit the desired position. I'm quite happy with how it turned out, and now we can make better use of the narrow terrace!
Phase Two. Now that's done, it'll be on to the fun part. As is the way in HK where space is tight, the best way to maximise what you have is to build upwards. Fortunately, one thing cats love to do is climb, so the plan is to provide various towers, bridges, and sleeping platforms for them to explore. At present, there are 6 cats sharing the area. With this in mind Jill intends to provide a variety of off-the-ground routes with multiple ways for them to get up and down, across and around without having to be in any confrontation or competition with each other. She plans to incorporate storage for the boxes of food and litter into the design, again saving valuable space.
Watch this space for Phase two - I think I'm as excited about this as our cats!