Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cats at Chickadee Gardens


First bees, now cats! So many critters at Chickadee Gardens!
My goal is for everyone to get along and play nicely.

Not like this...bad kitty!

Aaah, that's more like it. Good kitty. Biscuit.


So how does it happen when cats, which are so often blamed for the demise of songbirds, are able to enjoy our garden? It happens for us with a lot of planning.

When I adopted Lucy and Hobbes (who are littermate brother and sister, by the way) as rescues, my heart was smitten immediately. The three of us lived on the sixth floor of an apartment, so no outside time for these two. Indoor only, which is not only better for the cat and increases their life-span, but also for wildlife.

I agree cats are predators. No mistake.

Solution? Cat fence.

Let me back up a bit before we go into details.

Back when my husband and I were dating, it was perfectly clear to me that he and I were two peas in a pod and would spend our lives together. What was not so clear was whether Lucy and Hobbes would remain indoor-only cats once our families merged into David's house, a lovely Spanish Colonial home with a backyard.

First of all, we are lucky the backyard is completely fenced, that helps. So after a week or so of letting the kitties adjust to their new surroundings, I tentatively let them both outside, supervised. They sniffed, poked, pawed and were in awe of this new wonderland. Mommy made sure to watch their every move.

Then Hobbes learned how to jump the fence. Yikes!

 Hobbes has no trouble with heights.

This big boy can jump 6 feet straight up from a dead stop, no joke.

After a couple of nervous cat-wrangling episodes in our neighbors' backyards, which sent Mommy into cardiac arrest, I vowed this escape artist's future attempts to bust out would be thwarted.

Enter CAT FENCE.
Hobbes enjoying some of his first outside time, this pic is probably 5 years old.

We needed a fence not only to keep them in, but to keep other critters (wandering cats) out. So David---my wonder man---went to work. First of all, we needed to gather materials - netting and posts to mount the netting. I found online some resources to aid in our home-made cat fence. I found a website from the Feral Cat Coalition here that describes how to build. I also found another site, Affordable Cat Fence , which is where we actually ordered the netting. David found the aluminum "posts" as scrap and bent them to about 20 degrees from vertical. He drilled holes and hex-bolted them to the existing fences:


He then drilled holes and attached the netting with tie straps.


Here's a shot of the length of the north side. It kind of blends in, and when underplanted with vines, the netting virtually disappears.

 Hard to see, as it's backlit, but it's there.



 Evergreen clematis covers the netting, which is difficult to see, it's visible on the right there. All in all, the netting cost us about $50, while the rest of the materials are recycled materials. We still have a ton of netting left if we need to make repairs. A great investment and well worth the trouble.



Here are some native grape vines, Vitis californica purchased at Echo Valley Natives in Oregon City, and also a jasmine vine. The grape vine will leaf out in a few weeks and completely cover the west end of the garden and fence.

How did it work? Well, the first time we let Hobbes outside after the fence was installed, he tried to scale the fence. He jumped straight up, and since the fence is bent inward, he was interrupted by the netting, hung on for dear life with his front paws, looked around for a few seconds like a dumbfounded fool and dropped to the ground. 

Hobbes tried that once more before he got the message. Lucy? She never even tried, let's just say she's the "smart" one. 
Lucy in the garden.

Now, they never attempt to jump the fence. So they are safe inside the enclosure, free to roam around and sniff flowers, watch bumblers buzz from blossom to blossom, chase flies and catch some sunshine. The rule in our house is no one goes outside alone, either David or I am constantly with them while they are outside. This definitely thwarts any bird-catching activities. So all in all, the birds are happy, the bumblers are happy, the hummingbirds laugh in jest at Hobbes as they are waaaay too fast for him and they both know it, and well, Mommy and Daddy have some peace of mind. So be it, we are a happy fenced-in family.



One last shot of Hobbes working on his Vitamin D intake. 

Do you have any cat fence solutions to share? Leave a comment and share the ideas.
Thank you for reading, until next week, happy gardening!!

9 comments :

  1. What a great solution that netting is. I laughed at your description of Hobbes as a "dumbfounded fool." They are both seriously beautiful cats, such gorgeous markings. I have one cat who goes out in our fenced back yard for mostly supervised jaunts (I garden while she wanders), but she has never tried to jump the fence. She doesn't seem to have any desire to see what is beyond the fence, but we do have about a third of an acre. For most of her life she was an indoor cat, till we moved here where we have a fenced yard for her to play in. I hope to see more of your kitties on your blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alison, I thought of you while writing this knowing you are a cat fan :)
      I will try to post more pics of the furry beasts, they do sneak into photos from time to time. Sounds like you have a kitty like our Lucy, not so interested in jumping fences especially if she's happy hanging out with mommy while you garden..nice! Hobbes...well, he often looks like a dumbfounded fool. But the most loving, sweet muffin-head of a fool. We love our kitties.

      Delete
  2. Those are a beautiful pair of kitties!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are something! Their goofiness often overshadows any beauty, though. We love 'em, they are our kids, really :) I know anyone with pets can relate.

      Delete
  3. fifi lafontaine8:58 AM PDT

    Your cattens are so pretty, I could stare at them all day. I've thought a lot about this fence scenario but we have large stretches of inadequate and nonexistent fencing we plan on *eventually* getting arpund to fixing. I'm thinking a patio catio would be easier to install in the interim.. Great job on your fence. I can see everyone is so happy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thankee, Fifi! Come over and visit with them any time, they will be your bestus buddy EVAR for a treat. The fence thing definitely has to have some things in place for it to work, a catio is an awesome solution, which is what we would probably have if the original wood fence weren't there. Everyone IS happy, I am really relaxed in the garden now and they definitely help with the gardening. Also, it should be mentioned the birds have never had any issues getting caught up in the netting. Squirrels, on the other hand, are pretty dumb and it tends to keep them out. Yay!

      Delete
  4. All cats are beauties, but yours are at the Lana Turner and Hedy Lamarr level.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooo, Ricki - how very sweet of you, but don't tell them, it will go to their big muffin-heads! Come by any time if you ever want to meet them! They'll be your best buddy for a salmon treat.

      Delete
  5. Tami, seriously, Ricki is right. Your cats are incredibly beautiful. The coloring and markings are so exotic.

    I am virtually hugging you right now because as a die hard cat person myself, I can see how much you love your babies. The care you're taking to ensure not only their safety but the well-being of the wildlife as well is commendable. Kudos to you and also to the hubster for his part in this. If every pet owner had your attitude there would be no need for shelters. BRAVO!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comments! I love hearing them, I will approve comments as soon as I can. Yay!