Plans for making An Apartment

I have written quite a few times about “The Apartment” that my husband and son designed.  I even wrote a special post pack in April about it!  You can read about it here.  My husband was gracious enough to draw up the plans so I could post them here if anyone wishes to make one.  As a reminder, here is the finished product.  It is small enough to fit in small spaces and even works well in corners.

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I will attach the plans here as well as in the original post.  Hope your cats will enjoy it as much as mine do!  Please share with me if you make one too.

Apartment 1

Apartment 2

– I use 0.5” MDF or Particle Board
– One 4×8’ sheet should be just right for one apartment
– Cut pieces to the dimensions shown below.  The square cut-out in the Top can be offset 1.5-2” from the edges.
– The sides are designed to overlap the top/shelf/bottom and the back so you can screw to join the levels
– I typically attach the carpet first, but you might find it helpful to attach the sides, top and bottom first and work around inside.
– I use spare, semi-plush carpet for the lining.  I line every surface except for the backside of the back and the bottom side of the bottom.
– I keep 1/2 inch gaps from the carpet where the boards will be joined.
– Secure the carpet prior to attaching the sides.  I have used both a staple gun with 1/4-3/8” staples and an electric glue gun.  The glue takes longer, but I feel it is a better adhesion and safer for the cats.
– Don’t forget to carpet the edges!
– Once the boards are carpeted, secure each board together.  I typically use approx 1 1/2” fine drywall screws.  It can be tricky to line the boards up on the 1/2” side, and it might take a few tries.
– Refer to the completed pictures for orientation.
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Mid Summer Updates

Where oh where did the month of June go?  As usual summer is flying by.  I love the long warm days and spending time outside with the 3 boys.  Summer is always a great time to watch them frolic in the yard and play with each other.  The wildlife in my yard is also plentiful this time of the year.

First a quick update on Cisco.  He is doing fantastic!!  No problems at all.  His fur is almost completely grown back and he is one happy boy.  He has really blossomed and we are very fortunate to have him.  He hangs out with Jake and Marvin and Misty ( our dog) too.  He loves getting treats and he loves to eat!  When I am preparing dinner for the animals, he is almost as vocal as Misty!  At night he sleeps on our bed or on a chair in our room.  The best part, is that he never ever tries to get out any of the doors.  He must realize he has a great life living inside!  Here is a picture of the 3 of them on our bed.

Marvin, Jake and Cisco

Marvin, Jake and Cisco

Shadow, Stellar and Hampton are having a great summer with one minor exception; the coyotes are still around.  For awhile, I was seeing the coyotes every single night.  Then they leave for about a week, but then return once again.  Usually there is just one, but there have been 3 together.  I so fear for my three boys.  I tell them each and every night that they need to be alert at all times and if they get into a situation, they need to get up high.  Hampton and Stellar have both run up onto the deck railing and the privacy screen when the coyote has been in the yard.  We did have one scare when the coyote came right up to the deck.  It did not come onto the deck, but it was very close. Last week, I purchased a red flashing light that works on solar power.  It is aimed out in the yard and is supposed to mimic predator glowing eyes.  I still need to be sure the flashing lights are positioned properly.  I also increased the range of the motion light and bought brighter bulbs. I did read where you can purchase wolf urine and saturate rags to scatter around.  I really do not want to do this.  In all of the years we have lived here, we only see the coyote about once a year.  It has now been 20-30 times since May.  Each night I hope that they have moved on and found a new hunting spot.  Here is a picture of one from our yard at night.

coyote June 2017

Hampton has really blossomed this summer.  He is hanging out with Shadow and/or Stellar all of the time.  He is trying to play with Shadow and they usually spend all of their days together.  Stellar still leaves each morning after breakfast, but he has been returning in the early afternoon.  He then stays until dark.  Most nights he is out and about all night.  Shadow and Hampton stick closer to home, but they too have been wandering around as well.  Here are a few pictures

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Hampton, Shadow and Stellar

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Shadow and Stellar grooming each other

The deer have all had their babies and I am seeing so many this year.  Gimpy, my favorite deer had twins!  The poor sweet thing.  I have seen the fawns just a few times, but Gimpy comes a few times a week.  Fortunately she looks good.  Big Mama appears to have had just one, but both of her fawns from last year also gave birth.  This is a bit unusual as they were so young.  Yet they were both large and born fairly early in the season last year.  I have seen all 3 of them together with their fawns.  I look forward to late summer/early fall when the group will all be back together.  Here are a few pictures.

Gimpy and twins June 28 2017

Gimpy and her twins

fawn June 2017

Fawn July 2017

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Cisco’s Recovery and a Few Updates

Cisco is nearing the 100% healed mark!!  It was a long two plus weeks.  We had 3 additional trips to MedVet after the surgery which all led to a few set backs.  The 20-25 minute drive each way was not easy.  On the way, he would cry and thrash around trying to find a way out and also trying to find a way to get the cone off.  He did well at each visit and was exhausted after so the ride home was usually peaceful.

It seems that the past two weeks are somewhat of a blur.  It was a full time job keeping a close eye on him.  He did find a way to get the cone off so constant monitoring was necessary.  Thank goodness I had a camera in his room to watch him.  While he was on the gabapentin, he was very sleepy.  This was good as it allowed him to stay calm and rest.  Yet after many days, this drug caused diarrhea.  The litter he had to use (Yesterday’s News) was just awful.  I felt that all I was doing was completely emptying the litter box each time he went.  Cisco also did not like it and last week he began holding his urine for 26-28 hours.  I decided to sprinkle some of his regular litter into the box with the Yesterday’s News.  He was literally in the box within 10 seconds!  Fortunately he is now urinating 2-3 times each day.

Last Friday he had his final check up.  He had one stitch that had not dissolved yet so the cone needed to remain on for a few more days.  We decided that it was time he came out of his room.  I had been allowing Jake and Marvin time in his room for visits.  Jake was freaked by the cone and had many hisses, but Marvin seemed ok.  Cisco was so much happier when he was allowed out of his room.  Once out of his room we kept him in our bedroom with the door closed at night so we could keep an eye on him.

On Monday, I started allowing him time without the cone as long as I could watch him.  At first, he would immediately start licking.  I was told that he could do regular grooming, but nothing excessive or the cone would need to go back on.  It took him a few times to understand.  I gave him 3 strikes and the cone goes back on!  Then on Tuesday I decided to give it a try and see how he did without it and without constant monitoring.  He seemed to do fine.  I checked the incision at the end of the day and it was not red at all.  He was then allowed to go cone free for the night!  I am hopeful the dreaded cone does not have to go back on.

During all of this, I would not have been able to get through it all without all of the support from my husband.  He went above and beyond to help me with Cisco.  The best was that he slept in Cisco’s room on an old mattress for 8 or 9 ( I lost count) nights.  When I was in the room with him, I woke up constantly and Cisco was more on edge.  With my husband, Cisco would just sleep.  I cannot begin to thank him enough for his love, support and caring during this time.  He is one in a million!

My outside boys have been doing well.  They love the warm weather.  Our nights have still been cool so I have 2 heat pads out.  They just love them during the night and in the early mornings.  My biggest problem is that all 3 of them seem to be out and about so much at night.  Stellar has always been the one to be out and about in the summer.  Yet Shadow and Hampton were always home bodies.  Now they are all 3 out.  This is such a worry.  The past 3 out of 4 nights, the coyotes have been in the yard.  This is very unusual.  I usually only see them about once a year.  Two nights ago, one was running through with what looked like a bunny in its mouth.  This morning two were in the yard at 6:15 am.  It just scares me so.  Shadow and Hampton were on the deck this morning and both shot up and were quite shaken.  Stellar was who knows where.  When I got up this morning, Stellar was not here.  I was worried and went looking.  I found him next door just lounging in some tall grass.  Ugh.  I need a protective barrier around my property.

Here is the video of the coyotes this morning.

 

Shadow and Stellar love the warm weather.  When both are present, they can usually be found right beside each other.  Their favorite time of the day is early evening when they curl up together on a love seat.  Hampton will occasionally join them, but not for a snuggle.

Here they are snuggled together

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Cisco’s Surgery

Cisco’s transition to inside life had been going so smoothly.  He was fully integrated with Jake and Marvin and had been out of his “safe” room for almost 2 months.  In fact, we were just getting ready to put the “safe” room back to a guest room!  Things can happen very suddenly that change the course.  This is a very long account.  I decided to write it out mostly for my records.  Feel free to pass over this very long post.

Last Thursday night, May 11, 2017, Cisco came into our room for bed time.  As I was brushing my teeth, he came in to use the litter box.  Once I was finished, I noticed he was still in there.  I kept an eye on him and finally after nearly 10 minutes he came out.  I checked to see and there was indeed both urine and stool in the box.  I wondered if he was a bit constipated.

Friday morning emerged and Cisco seemed fine.  Yet later that day I noticed he was in and out of the litter box more than normal.  By early afternoon, he was going into the litter box and then he was crying.  I still wondered if he was constipated.  I had recently begun introducing home cooked cat food into his diet.  A change in diet can definitely cause constipation.  I kept an eye on him and started to worry.  We were headed out of town the next morning.  At 4 pm, I called the vet and she was concerned.  It sounded like a possible urinary blockage.  She suggested I take him right to MedVet since if it was a blockage, he would end up there any way.  Ugh.  It’s now after 4 pm on a Friday and a trip to MedVet at rush hour is not fun.

We arrived near 5:30 and Cisco was taken back for a check immediately.  It wasn’t long before we were told, it was a urinary blockage and he would need to have a procedure done.  Male cats tend to develop this condition due to anatomically having a very narrow urethra.  They put him under anesthesia and inserted a catheter to break up the blockage.  Then the bladder is irrigated to help remove any other toxins or tissue build up.  The catheter remains in place for 24-48 hours.  We were sent home knowing he would remain until Sunday evening or Monday morning.  We also went ahead and continued our weekend out of town plans.

Cisco did well with the procedure.  The blockage was a collection of struvite crystals.  When they viewed the urine sample, they found 50+ crystals and some blood.  It was then determined an ultrasound was necessary to check for any stones in the bladder.  Fortunately the bladder and urethra were free of stones.  This was good news. Cisco was monitored throughout the day and night on Saturday and was doing well.  The only complication was that he was not eating.

On Sunday morning, the catheter was removed and we waited to hear if/when he urinated on his own.  As long as he was urinating on his own, he would be allowed to come home Sunday evening.  I heard a few hours later that he had indeed urinated on his own!  I was so happy.  We made plans to pick him up early evening.

Unfortunately just a few hours later, I received another call saying that he could not urinate on his own.  There was no physical blockage, but his bladder was contracting, but no urine would come out.  They gave him a few more hours to see if the medication would help.  It did not.  The internal medicine vet did not feel that doing a recatheterization was a good idea.  With all of the spasms he would most likely do fine with the catheter, but then block again without the catheter.  It also is not a good idea to recatheter often as the urethra can then develop small tears.  They decided to manually express the bladder overnight and make a decision Monday morning.

Overnight he did well with the bladder expression, but my morning he was grouchy and in pain.  His bladder was growing hard again.  We had the option to recatheter or move forward with a surgical option.  We decided on the surgical approach as we did not want him to continue in so much pain.

The only other option was a PU surgery (Perineal urethrostomy).  During the procedure, the penis is removed and the larger diameter urethra that is closer to the bladder is sutured to the skin between the anus and the scrotum. This provides a new opening through which the cat can urinate.  I was told that even though this procedure sounds complicated, it is a very straight forward surgery.

The surgery was performed Monday afternoon.  He did very well and was resting comfortably.  Now we had to wait for him to urinate on his own.  The plan was to pick him up late day Tuesday.  He did well overnight Monday and urinated on his own.  When the surgeon went to check on him Tuesday morning, his bladder was still having spasms.  He would urinate only small dribbles unless a bit of pressure was applied to the bladder.  The surgeon felt, once the inflammation reduced and the spasms stopped, he would be fine.  We decided to go get him as he was very stressed and still was not eating.  Once home, he might settle.

When we arrived to pick him up, he had urinated on his own without any pressure applied to the bladder.  This was good news and made us feel better about taking him home.  He was happy to see us.  The instructions and medication list were both long.  I was a bit unprepared for how much of his fur was shaved.  Each paw had something shaved for a needle and his entire back end and part of his abdomen were also shaved.  He was also so very skinny.

Fortunately we still had the “safe” room ready.  We did a bit more clearing out.  I also had to get some special litter made out of paper called Yesterday’s News.  It was the strangest litter I had ever used.  It needed to be non clumping so it did not stick to the incision.  I also bought him an inflatable cone that I thought might be more comfortable than the plastic one.  In the long run, this cone was more comfortable, but he could reach back much further.  I decided to just stick with the plastic cone.

Cisco was not happy to be shut in his room.  He so wanted out.  It took awhile to calm him down.  He did manage to eat a small bit, but he kept pacing and running into every wall with the cone.  He was a bit frantic.  It was only 30 minutes or so home that he tried the litter box.  It was awful to once again see him in there for long periods with no urine production.  He did this over and over a few times before getting really tired.  We watched him closely as we did not want the cone to fall off.  The incision was swollen and red and he was not to lick it at all.  At bed time, I went to give a bit more food and medicine.  He takes his medicine like a champ!  Yet the litter box issues started again.  He did not cry, but he was definitely straining.  He had a small blood clot that feel off from straining.  So then there was a bit of blood.  I felt a call was needed to the vet.

After hearing the situation, we had to take Cisco back to MedVet that night.  Of course it was nearing 10 pm.  Once there, it was determined that thankfully he was not blocked, but the continued spasms and then some mental aspect might be causing the issue.  His bladder was very small and soft.  We had a wonderful emergency vet.  At first she wanted to try an “off label” antidepressant to see if that would calm him.  Yet while discussing the situation, she thought of trying gabapentin for the nerve pain as well as the sedating properties.  This drug is often used to calm cats that are terrified of vet visits.  It also is approved for use in cats.  We decided to try the gabapentin as well as some sub q fluids.  We were back home around 1:30 am.

I decided it was best to sleep in the room with Cisco.  I really needed to keep an eye on him.  I slept fitfully as I was concerned about him.  He got up around 3 am and once again attempted the litter box. Of course once again nothing came out.  He then became frantic and was trying to get out of the room.  He kept banging his head against the gate and then attempted to jump it.  He would not calm down at all.  I had to get my husband to help.  I tried placing Cisco in a large dog crate, but he got his paw stuck.  We then put him in the large carrier we use for him as he couldn’t move too much.  My husband said he would stay with Cisco as I was as frantic as Cisco.  He needed calm and I was definitely not calm.

Once I left the room, Cisco calmed within 20 minutes.  He was then allowed out of the carrier.  He settled under the bed side table before getting up around 4 am and finally urinating!  He did well the rest of the night.  I arrived with breakfast around 7 am.  He was happy to see me and was able to eat.  After breakfast it was time for medicine.  He then went pee again!! After all of that he was ready for a nap.  We continued to watch him throughout the day.  The surgeon called and wanted us to bring him back in so she could have a look.  I told her it would be very stressful for him.  She agreed that I could email her pictures and we would talk later.  After looking at the pictures, she thought he was a bit swollen, but agreed if he was eating and urinating fine we could talk again on late Thursday or early Friday. My husband and I either took turns in the room with him or watched him from the wireless ip camera we set up.  He did really well until 6 pm when the gabapentin must have worn off.  He was once again agitated and trying to get out of the room and trying to get the cone off.  It took almost an hour for him to calm down.  Fortunately he stayed calm the remainder of the evening.  At bed time, he was given the rest of his medication.  My husband slept in the room with him again.  Cisco did great.  He slept all night getting up only once to pee and poop!

Today he is having a pretty good day too.  He is eating like a champ and having no issues in the litter box.  So far all day, he sleeps for 2+ hours and then is awake for 15-30 minutes.  He is very cuddly today which is good to see.  He so wants out of the room and will cry at the gate.  The cone makes him quite agitated.  He tries very hard to get it off.  I am concerned about the damage he could do if the cone did come off.  Marvin and Jake have seen him through the gate and both are a bit freaked out.  Hopefully next week they can have a visit in Cisco’s room.

This is all a day by day process.  I have read many accounts about this surgery.  Each day that passes is progress, but we are not out of the woods yet.  I was so hoping he would not need any more trips back to MedVet until the recheck on May 26.  Unfortunately the surgeon emailed me today that she really wants to see him tomorrow.  She will be unavailable all weekend and would feel better seeing him in person.  We will definitely make the trip.

Here he is with his dreaded cone. Note the unhappy facial expression.

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The Apartment

I wanted to make a special post just about “The Apartment” that we use as a small cat condo.  The original Apartment was built for Jake when he was just a kitten.  My husband and son built it to use in my son’s room so Jake would have a place to look out the window and play. Since it was smaller than a cat condo, the name The Apartment was coined. Jake just loved it and used it for many years.  He would often sit on top and then flip and flop between the levels.  Throughout the years, we also purchased full size cat trees that Jake really preferred.  When Marvin came along, we moved the apartment into his room.  He loved it so much.  He would sit on top and look outside during the day and night.  When afraid, he would hide in the bottom level.  During play time, he too would flip and flop from level to level.  Once Marvin left his “safe room” we moved The Apartment to our den.  There was not a day that went by that it did not get used.

When Cisco came along, I placed a small perch in his room.  He seemed ok with it, but when I brought him downstairs and into the den, he loved The Apartment.  While our son was home from college on break, a new Apartment was made to go in Cisco’s room.  It was a hit from day one.  Not only did Cisco enjoy sitting and looking outside, but Marvin and Jake would venture into the room for play time.  Marvin relived his days of playing with the da bird toy or a feather wand and flipping and flopping between levels.  Jake would perch himself on top and watch as the other two played in the room.

The design was made by my husband and son to fit in a small space.  It can easily fit into a corner and is the perfect height for outside viewing.  It is also large enough that two cats can easily sit on top as well as another cat on one of the other levels.  When it was first designed, it had a curved perch.  Jake was quite small and he loved nestling in the curve.  Yet as he grew, he just didn’t fit.  That part was later removed.

Here is tiny Jake

Baby Jake

 

Photo 37

Here are Cisco and Marvin with the original Apartment

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Here are a few of the new apartment in Cisco’s room

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All three in the new Apartment in Cisco’s room

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The Apartment can easily be assembled in just a few hours.  I can post directions on how to build it as well.

Lastly, I will post a video of Cisco and Marvin playing in it.

 

Edited July 7, 2017 to add the plans for making “The Apartment”.  I now have the plans drawn so that anyone who wishes can make one of their own.  See below for details.

Apartment 1

 

 

Apartment 2

– I use 0.5” MDF or Particle Board
– One 4×8’ sheet should be just right for one apartment
– Cut pieces to the dimensions shown below.  The square cut-out in the Top can be offset 1.5-2” from the edges.
– The sides are designed to overlap the top/shelf/bottom and the back so you can screw to join the levels
– I typically attach the carpet first, but you might find it helpful to attach the sides, top and bottom first and work around inside.
– I use spare, semi-plush carpet for the lining.  I line every surface except for the backside of the back and the bottom side of the bottom.
– I keep 1/2 inch gaps from the carpet where the boards will be joined.
– Secure the carpet prior to attaching the sides.  I have used both a staple gun with 1/4-3/8” staples and an electric glue gun.  The glue takes longer, but I feel it is a better adhesion and safer for the cats.
– Don’t forget to carpet the edges!
– Once the boards are carpeted, secure each board together.  I typically use approx 1 1/2” fine drywall screws.  It can be tricky to line the boards up on the 1/2” side, and it might take a few tries.
– Refer to the completed pictures for orientation.
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Spring has Sprung

We finally have been having some nice spring weather.  March came in like a lion and also went out like a lion.  Yet April has brought warmer temperatures and also some spring rain.  The grass is so green, the flowering trees are in full bloom, the tulips are opening and the birds are singing their early morning songs.  The outside boys are very happy that winter is over.  They have already started their warmer weather routine.

During the colder months of the year, the cats are on the deck most of the day and night.  Yet once the warmer weather arrives, they are out and about in the yard more.  Their nights are spent circling the house and playing in the yard and their days are mostly spent sleeping.  Stellar leaves every morning after breakfast and often does not come back until early evening.  He likes to spend some time alone.  Shadow and Hampton are always on or under the deck, never venturing far. When Stellar does come back in the evening, he and Shadow usually will snuggle up together.  Shadow always finds Stellar to need a good grooming!

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With the warmer weather, it is time to think about removing the winter shelters.  Last year, we took the heated houses and tent shelter down in late April.  I am watching the weather to see if that might be possible again this year.  I will leave out the magic boxes and they will have the canopy that covers part of the deck to stay dry when it rains.  It is this time of year that I get the itch to have some what of a normal looking deck!

The wild life in the yard is still plentiful.  This time of year we see the skunks each night as well as the possum and raccoon. For awhile the fox was trotting through each day, but with the warmer weather they are not around as much.  The deer come through a few times each week.  It won’t be long before the female deer will have their fawns.

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Last week, there was a bit of commotion on the deck around 8 am.  My husband heard running and things knocking over.  He thought it was another cat on the deck, but when he got closer, it was the fox.  Shadow and Hampton were sleeping in either a heated house or magic box.  The fox came up onto the deck and it was chaos.  It appears Hampton chased it away.  By the time I got to the door, Shadow and Hampton were both completely puffed out, hair sticking out on end.  The fox is usually not a threat to the cats.  Fox prefer birds, chipmunks and other rodents.  A cat is just too big.  The body of a fox is not that large, it is just the long bushy tail that makes it appear so much larger.  I don’t mind seeing the fox in the yard, but on the deck is a bit too close for comfort.

The inside group is doing very well.  Cisco is out of his room full time now!!! He still chooses to be in there a few times each day, but the gates are wide open for him to come and go.  All three have learned to coexist with each other.  Cisco and Marvin will chase and play in the apartment ( small cat condo), but Jake just wants to be left alone.  During the night, Cisco is often sleeping on our bed or on a chair in our room.  Marvin is not too happy about sharing the bed and has slept in my son’s room for the past four nights.  It is still all an adjustment.  Cisco has fit in just wonderfully!  We are so happy to have him!!!

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We Just Keep Moving Forward

Cisco is doing so well in the house.  He is out and about in the house all day.  He spends most of his day in the den looking out the window or catching some sunshine!  Jake and Marvin mostly ignore him and he mostly ignores them.  We have even left the house and allowed Cisco to stay out of his room.  The next step will be keeping his door open over night.  That may just happen later this week.  I could not be happier with all of this great progress from all three inside kitties.   Here is Cisco in the den on a sunny day.

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Cisco has learned many of our daily routines.  He knows that my husband keeps treats in his office and is starting to go in for a visit.  He knows that before our dinner, Misty gets a kong and the cats get a piece of dehydrated chicken cat treat.  He also knows that after our dinner, everyone gets a few bites of plain cooked chicken.  When it comes to food, he is learning fast!  Here they all are after dinner waiting for some chicken!

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Most nights after dinner, it is playtime for the cats.  I usually take them up to Cisco’s room and we play with the Cat dancer, string under a blanket or feather wand.  My husband will then join me or take over once Misty is settled. Marvin just loves playing with the feather wand in the apartment.  Cisco really likes the Cat dancer or string under a blanket.  Jake likes to perch himself on top of the apartment so that Marvin and Cisco remember he is “King”.  Here is Jake and Cisco during a play session:

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Sometimes during the evening, I will find all 3 on the back stair case.

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The outside boys are so ready for warmer weather.  March has been very chilly.  We have yet to hit 60.  Many days are cloudy and down right cold.  The March wind has made its presence known.  Checking the forecast, I do see warmer weather arriving for the weekend!

Each day that the sun is out, Shadow, Stellar and Hampton can be found lounging in the rays.  It can be quite cold, but as long as their is sunshine, they are happy.  Shadow caught his first chipmunk the other day.  As usual, he played with it for a bit and then it got away.  He just likes to hunt them!

Stellar has had a bad case of tapeworm.  I have wormed with 3 times since January and I still am finding them.  With his black fur, they are easy to spot.  I washed all of the bedding earlier this week.  I may have to breakdown and apply Revolution to him.

Hampton just loves living on the deck!  He watches the birds, squirrels and chipmunks, but he is definitely not a hunter.  He loves the sunshine and even on very cold days, he might sleep in the sun for a bit.  He has done very well sharing space with Shadow and Stellar this winter.  The bond between the 3 of them has continued to grow.  Hampton is no longer the odd man out as Shadow and Stellar have learned to accept him.  Here are a few pictures from this past week.

Stellar and Shadow

Shadow grooming Stellar!

Hampton

Hampton taking a dirt bath!

 

 

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