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A new lease on life: On cat adoptions and outdoor enclosures

Posted Mar 12 2010 10:00pm

Since his toddler years, my son has suffered chronic upper respiratory symptoms whenever cats were around. Hence, felines have not starred on our household’s pet playlist since the last millennia. Nevertheless, it hasn’t stopped me from pining away every time our hospital plays host to kittens and other miscellaneous strays. One day, I say, one day...

But now it seems as if one day is coming up sooner than I thought. All because I don’t know what else to do with this geriatric kitty that got plunked into my lap after being stuck in a trap for five days without food and water.

Now, truth be told, this isn’t exactly the kitty of my dreams. I know it sounds almost cruel to say so but let me be frank: Thomasina is no poster child for adoptability. She’s old...maybe 14-15? She’s sick...though now that I’ve extracted all her molars her stomatitis seems to be improving. And she’s not exactly the most solicitously sweet thing in the world...though she is a placid girl who deserves a final home no less than any other docile stray.

But she can’t live indoors. Lord, no! Last time we kept a cat indoors (for just a very brief stint), my son’s breathing tests dropped sharply off. That’s something we can’t live with. But we CAN perhaps live cozily with an outdoor kitty. That is, as long as she’s got an outdoor enclosure to keep her safe and limit her potential predation of my porch’s wildlife.

An explanation is perhaps in order: In case you don’t know this about me, I’m protective of my area’s native wildlife. Even the not-so-native lizards and frogs don’t deserve a sound munching just because “thats what cats do.” Which, apart from keeping kitties safe and contained, is the biggest reason I’m a huge advocate of keeping cats indoors.

All of this explains why posts like this  one are among my favorite Dolittler offerings. In response to this and other outdoor cat enclosure entries, some of you have written to offer your suggestions and display your favorite designs. Others among you claimed to receive inspiration from these outdoor approaches to safe feline living.

One of my clients even brought me pictures of her cat’s new enclosure along with flowers, “for saving my cat’s life.” In this case (a severe urine spraying problem), she’d had to choose between the contained outdoors or the business end of a euthanasia syringe. Good thing she was handy with a band saw and knew her way around chicken wire. Her enclosure looks something like this one: 

Mine? It won't be anything so elaborate. After all, my old kitty hardly moves. So instead, I'll be offering her a spot in a chicken-wire-enclosed area of my porch (where we barbecue and dine) with a simple three-sided roof over her head. All I need now is a little pressure treated wood and some Sunbrella fabric I'll purchase at the fabric store. There might be better ways to spend your golden years but this'll have to do. Compared to death in a trap or life on the streets, even a simple porch is a great alternative, right?




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