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

 

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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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Cisco’s progression

I am so happy that it is March and warm sunny weather will be more frequent. Unfortunately March has been very cool, rainy and windy.  March definitely came in like a lion and hopefully will exit as a lamb! The forecast for the next few days is very cold.  Daytime highs will only be in the 30’s and night time lows in the mid teens.  Brrrrrrrr.  It has not been this cold since early February.  The outside boys have not been using their heated houses every night, but I do believe they will need to snuggle for the next few nights.

Cisco has been doing so well.  He is such a sweet, docile boy.  All of our pets have many nicknames so it was only right for Cisco to follow suit.  We call him Big Boy or Buddy.  He now really enjoys looking outside and watching the birds and squirrels.  He has an “apartment” both upstairs in his room and also one on the first floor in the den. Two weeks ago my wonderful husband and son built Cisco an apartment of his own for his room upstairs.

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He loves to play with the da bird toy, feather wand or a simple string.  Yet mostly he prefers just lounging and getting pets.  My husband does most of Cisco’s feedings.  This has really started to pay off.  Cisco is now beginning to wait for his meals out in the open instead of hiding under the table.  He also is used to hearing my husband’s voice and footsteps.  Unfortunately he is very leery of unfamiliar people.  Our son was home from college and Cisco had a difficult time warming up to him.  Also when he looks out the window and sees a human, he will jump down and hide.  Marvin was very much like this too when he first came into the house.  He may always hide when people come to the house, but that is just fine with me.  He is warm and safe inside our home.

While my son was home, he was able to help me a lot with the cats and their integration.  Jake, our very first kitty has always been “the boy’s cat”.  So it was nice to have some help with Jake.  Working with 3 cats alone was somewhat difficult so having an extra hand was very much welcomed.  Jake was able to get some great attention and see that Cisco was not a threat.  Jake had a very difficult time when Marvin came into the house.  This time around it is much much smoother.  It helps that Cisco is very mellow and not at all threatening.  Jake must realize that he can keep his title, “King of the House”!

Last week we started by allowing Cisco more time out of his room and time to explore the first floor as well as the bedrooms upstairs.  I did not keep any rooms closed or any gates up.  We did this for short bursts once or twice a day.  At first I we kept a very close eye on all of the cats as well as our dog.  All of the encounters went fairly well.  We had some great play sessions in the evenings with plenty of plain cooked chicken as rewards!

This week I have allowed Cisco time out of his room for a total of 5-6 hours each day.  He prefers the den, but has ventured all over and even found the downstairs litter box.  He is getting more and more comfortable each day.  Here are a few pictures of him out and about.

Also one with Jake and another hanging out with Jake and Misty.

I am so hopeful that as the weeks go by that he will be fully integrated into our home and feel comfortable to be out of his room and engage with Jake and Marvin.  Misty our large Samoyed, is doing just wonderful with him.  She has always done well with the cats, but when Marvin came inside, she wanted to sniff him all over and was very unsure of what he might do.  With Cisco she just gently sniffs him and then walks away.  He is not very afraid of her which helps too.  It makes it much easier as she always wants to be included in all of the cat activities.

Lastly I want to update Cisco’s tail.  When he first came inside on December 26, 2016, his tail was very angry looking.  It took quite awhile for the tail to stop bothering him.  Now it has completely healed and almost all of the fur has regrown.  You would never know it was injured.

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Mid Winter Updates

Here we are the middle of February and so far our winter has been an easy one.  We had a few cold nights in mid December and early January, but since then it has been mild and dry.  Our snowfall total for the season is under 10″.  This weekend and for the next 7 days, the temperatures are to be in the 60’s with no rain!  I have had the daffodil stalks up from the ground for over a month and just today I saw some with flower buds.  This morning while feeding the cats, the birds were singing!  I just hope that old man winter doesn’t decide to rear his head in March.

Of course with this nice weather, the outside boys are very happy.  They have been out and about a lot at night and they prefer to use the magic boxes instead of the heated houses during the night.  After breakfast they have been so tired that they all retreat to the heated houses and sleep for hours.  Today with the sunshine and temperatures near 60, I am sure they will prefer the warm sun on the deck.

I have been trying to bring them into the laundry room a few times each week.  I did this mostly when the temperatures were cold or when the wind was really blowing.  Even though I had to leave the door cracked, it was so much warmer for me.  Hampton is always the first inside.  He loves to snuggle up against me and is even starting to allow me to place him in my lap.  Stellar also loves to come inside too.  Shadow has been quite ambivalent.  The space is not large and it might feel too cramped for him with me and two other cats.  He will often come inside when the others are not around.  Hampton and Stellar have been enjoying some playtime inside too.  They love when I hide the feather wand under a towel.  Both will pounce on it, bite it and dig.  Here is a picture of the two of them:

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Hampton and Stellar

Cisco continues to progress.  For the past week, I have been bringing him downstairs to the den for an hour or more at a time.  I first had tried allowing him time in the family room, but the open floor plan was just too overwhelming for him.  He needed to start small!  The den is the perfect size and has a wall of windows for him to look outside.  I am able to work on the computer or read for a bit while he is in the room.  Jake and Marvin rarely know he is even downstairs.  Cisco is also starting to do better with my husband.  It’s small baby steps, but at least he is moving in the right direction!

When we adopted Jake, our first cat, my husband and son built Jake what they coined “the apartment”.  It is a homemade cat tree that is on the shorter side, but also on the wider side.  It has  top, middle and bottom levels that are interconnected by holes.  Jake loved this as a kitten.  He would flip and flop from top to bottom.  As he grew, he wanted up higher so we purchased a few cat trees for him.  When Marvin came along, he was definitely a bush dweller and does not jump high or want up high at all.  It was in his room when he first came inside and then we moved it to the den for him to enjoy.  He sits on it each morning to watch the birds and squirrels and cats in the back yard.  Jake and Marvin will still play in it a few times each month.  Now Cisco has taken a liking to it!  When in the den with me, he will sit on top and look outside.  Then I hear a bump and he has gone down the top hole to the middle level.  He also enjoys hiding when he hears a loud noise in the bottom level.  I do think another “apartment” will join the household soon!  It would be perfect for Cisco’s room. Here is Cisco enjoying all 3 levels!

This winter, the wildlife has been steady.  My favorite deer group of Gimpy, Big Mama and Weeble and Wobble do not come as often.  I do see them about once a week.  Each night I have between 5-8 bucks come through the yard.  When it is cold at night I leave a bit of corn out for them.  Most mornings it is gone.  I also have two heated bird baths in the yard which all of the wildlife drink from.  I have to fill both each morning.  Here is a clip of the bucks participating in “reindeer games”!

 

The bluebirds arrived again this winter.  I saw the first one in mid December and now have between 5-8 that come multiple times each day.  They love the mealworms and the suet ball.  They are my absolute favorite bird and remind me of my dear friend, Bob each time I see them.

 

We also have a few fox that frequent the yard.  They often come through the yard during the day stopping to get a drink of water.  They are not a threat to my cats as they prefer to eat small rodents and birds.  I did have one come up onto the deck, but Stellar hissed and the fox went running.

Hopefully my next post will have more great updates and continued warm weather!

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Introduction Time

Last week I did a few room swaps and decided it was time for some between the gate face to face time.  I kept the interactions short and sweet with lots of fresh cooked chicken for all!  So far it has been going fairly well.  It took 3 days for the first hiss and that was from Jake.  I also started opening the door (with a barrier to keep him safely inside his room) to Cisco’s room so he could start to hear, see and smell the comings and goings of our house.

The room swaps quickly got boring.  Jake was the only one who really wanted to be in Cisco’s room as Marvin really didn’t care.  Cisco was unsure about my bedroom and I wasn’t ready for him to come downstairs yet.  So I decided to move to sight visits.  I have two gates separating Cisco from his room and the hallway.  Fortunately they are pet walk through gates so I don’t have to climb over them!  By having two it makes it easier to keep Cisco away from the door as well as allowing the cats time to visit without getting too close.  I started with both gates closed, but quickly moved to allowing Jake and Marvin inside the first gate.  I gave lots of plain cooked chicken to all.  There has been lots of sniffing between the three of them.  Jake did get a bit hissy, but at first it was directed at Marvin since he stole Jake’s piece of chicken!  Jake will be the hardest to accept Cisco.  It took him over a year to accept Marvin.  Fortunately Cisco is very docile and mellow.  Marvin was much for skittish and aggressive.  Here are a few pictures of their interactions.

When I introduced Jake and Marvin, I used the gates as well, but I also used a screen door.  We did not want to deface our current door so I bought a cheap wooden screen door from Lowes and would rest it against the door frame and secure with tension rods.  A gate was still in the door way for extra protection.  I only used this set up when I was home to supervise.  It was great for Marvin, but it was cumbersome to take up and down and it freaked Marvin out each time. Here is a picture of my screen door set up.

I really wanted something easier to set up, yet high enough so the cats couldn’t jump it.  My current walk through gates are 30″ high so not quite tall enough.  I scoured the internet and came up with something I thought might work.  You basically use 4-6′ in length wire shelving units and attach them together with zip ties.  Here is the article where I found this idea https://pethelpful.com/cats/Build-a-free-standing-cat-dog-pet-gate-with-virtually-no-tools.  It is a brilliant idea that works well as long as the cats are supervised.  We first started with the 6′ tall panels, but it was hard to maneuver and taller than I needed.  These were returned and instead one 12′ piece was cut into 3 pieces.  Zip ties are used to keep them together.  It is very easy to set up and easy to move around too.

 

I also had the idea that this would work well for my outside boys.  I have been bringing them inside the laundry room for some time with me when it’s been so cold outside.  I have to leave the door cracked for them, but they love it.  Jake and Marvin have been on  the other side of the inside door.  I have been giving treats to all and managing to slip a few under the door for Jake and Marvin.  Right off my laundry room is the den.  This would be another safe place for the outside boys.  I decided to give it a try and see how it worked.

I positioned the new barrier in my hallway keeping Jake, Marvin and Misty our dog out of the way.  I opened the doors and called to see who would come.  Stellar or Hampton are usually first.  They were a bit shocked to see the doorway into the house open.  Hampton ran right back outside before trying again.  Stellar decided to be brave and found his way into the den.  Of course Jake was on the other side of the barrier and Marvin soon followed.  No one sniffed, just lots of watching.  Of course all of the outside boys have seen Jake and Marvin through the screen door for years.  So this new barrier will have many uses.  Here is a picture of the barrier in the hallway and a few of the kitties.

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As January Comes to a Close

One more winter month is almost complete which takes us one step closer to spring! Our January has had its ups and downs weather wise.  We had some very cold temperatures and some very mild temperatures.  Yet very little snow.  We did have quite a bit of rain, but I will take rain over snow any day! It does seem now that we are settling into a colder weather pattern for the next few weeks.  I am at least hoping for some sunshine as January was quite gray.

Cisco has been inside for 5 weeks today!  He continues to progress, yet the progress seems slow.  I decided to completely hold off on any introductions until Cisco was done with all vaccines.  He went back to the vet last Thursday and received his second dose of FVRCP.  I had thought about switching and getting an injection, but decided to stick with the intra nasal type as I thought it was important moving forward to know if his reaction continued.  He did very well at the vet and so far no reaction to the vaccine. His tail is completely healed and 85-90% of the hair has grown back.  He is no longer limping at all!  He received a microchip and I also did a blood test that would determine if the antibodies present for FIV were from a vaccine or not.  Unfortunately his FIV positive was not from a vaccine.  I am just glad I know for sure.  It changes nothing for me and we will progress with introductions.

I had been doing scent swapping for a few weeks as well as using a cat brush and taking turns brushing all 3.  None of the cats were upset at all.  Today I decided to do a room swap.  My bedroom seems to be a place where there are the scent of all the animals.  I decided to take Cisco there and then allow Jake and Marvin time inside Cisco’s room.  Cisco did very well.  He sniffed around a bit and then settled on my bed.  He did better than I expected.  While he was lounging on the bed, I went and retrieved Jake and Marvin.  Jake went right to work sniffing and jumping up onto furniture.  Marvin was very cautious and not at all comfortable.  When I opened the door back up, Marvin ran right now while Jake wanted to remain!  I hope to continue this daily this week before moving to visually seeing each other between the gates.  Here are a few pictures:

The outside cats seem to be doing well.  Shadow steered clear of any vomiting or diarrhea and Stellar’s wound is almost healed.  I did find out that the wound was a scratch from a cat.  I found piles of black and orange fur on the side of my house.  There was lots of Stellar fur (black) and only a small amount of orange fur.  I do feel that the wound was a scratch and not a puncture from a bite.  The only issue seems to be that some of the fur that was sticky from puss has matted on top of the wound.  Stellar would not allow me to clip any more fur off or try to clean it any more.  I may try to put some Vaseline petroleum jelly on it to soften the fur.  Yet, I believe it’s more cosmetic than anything and nothing to worry about.

I am hopeful that February will be a peaceful month both inside and outside.  I have a lot of work to with Jake, Marvin and Cisco.  I also have to find the time to spend with the outside boys.  When the weather is cold, it’s very hard for me to sit outside with them for very long.

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