Moving House, Taking The Colony With Me.

Norachan

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Hello,

I'm going to be moving house in about two months time and I want to take as many of the colony with me as I can. I have a lot of questions, if you have any advice or suggestions about any of the following I would appreciate it.

SPACE. The house has one big open plan living-dining-kitchen area and an upstairs loft area, then another large downstairs room. (The only room that can be shut off from the rest of the house.) The garden is about 1000 square meters. There is a big wooden deck with space underneath for three or four large cat shelters, We're also going to put up a shed that will have a cat tree, bed, toilet etc. Is this going to be enough space for around 23 cats? They all get on very well with each other with one exception. (More about her later) She's going to get the downstairs room to herself.

GARDEN. At the moment the garden is just grass with a couple of large trees and some wild flowers growing. I'm going to plant lots of cat nip. Is there anything else that would be good for cats to have in their garden? I'm going to have my own little plot at the front for flowers that will be fenced off from their area.

TOILETS. As well as litter boxes in the house will they need an outdoor toilet? I could put a couple of litter boxes under the deck, but I wanted to put shelters there and I don't think it's a good idea to have them close together. Will cleaning up the garden every day be enough? What's the best way to make an outdoor toilet area for them?

FENCE. We're going to be in a very isolated area with no neighbours or roads, but I don't want them wandering off as it's bear country. There aren't any companies that specialise in cat proof fencing in Japan, but we've asked a fencing company to make one to our own specifications. It's going to be 2 meter high stakes driven into the ground at 2 meter intervals. Planks of wood nailed horizontally close to the ground, half way up and at the top. 50 cm lengths of wood coming in from the top at a 45 degree angle. Chicken wire nailed to the planks, covering the lot. Does this sound OK? Should the chicken wire be nailed to the planks coming in at a 45 degree angle be a bit slack?

GETTING THEM ADJUSTED. I'm going to have plenty of Feliway and hopefully the fact that most of the furniture and bedding form our present house is moving with us will make them feel more at home. Once the fence is finished, would it be OK to let them out? I know most people say two to three weeks to get them used to a new home, but if they can't go further that the fence would two or three days be long enough?

Most of these cats are used to coming indoors when the weather is bad, so a few days in the house shouldn't stress them out too much. The only exceptions are Kumori, who has lived outside for all of her four years. The shed is going to be for her. She needs to have a lot of her matted fur shaved off so I'm only going to let her out when the weather is warm until it has grown back. She'll let me pick her up, so getting her back into her shed at night shouldn't be a problem.

The other exception is Mia, who in spite of being with me since she was a kitten HATES being indoors and doesn't like the other cats either. She will get her own room and hopefully will learn to share the garden with the others. Most of them seem scared of her, because she hisses and growls at them. I'm considering fencing off one corner of the garden just for her, if things don't work out.

Do you think I need to go through the introduction process with them again once we've moved? Will being separated from the others in a shed and her own room mean that the others forget Kumori and Mia after a few days?

THE ONES I HAVE TO LEAVE BEHIND. 
 There are three female and two male cats in my neighbourhood that I can't touch. They were all here when I moved in four years ago, and mainly get fed by my neighbour. (Although they will come around for food if she isn't home.) I can't take them with me as I'd have to trap them all again and they don't get on very well with "my" colony, but as they get fed daily and hunt as well I think they'll be OK. They've all been TNR'd except for one of the female cats. I've been trying to trap her since last June. I think the only thing I can do is keep trying to trap her between now and when I move and if I don't succeed hope that my neighbour manages to trap her. (She's been trying too.)

Will taking so many cats out of the neighbourhood create a vacuum? The amount of food available won't change, as my neighbour is just going to keep feeding "her" five, but the amount of prey and space available will.

Thank you for taking the time to read through such a long post. I'm going to post some pictures as soon as the deeds are signed and we start on the fence.

Any advice or suggestions gratefully received.

 
 

ondine

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Congratulations on this move!  Good for you to be taking the cats - you are their lifesaver.

I have only a few thoughts.  First of all, make sure the fence is indeed "cat-proof" before you release anyone.  The chicken wire is a good plan and leaving it a bit slack will keep the cats from thinking they have a good toehold, thus making them hesitant to climb.

Potties - although I have an inside box for my outside cats, I have also constructed an outside litter box for them.  I used the brackets for a raised garden and made it 12" deep.  I filled the bottom with landscaping rocks (two sizes, larger on the bottom, a little smaller next - about six inches), then gravel (another inch or so) and then play sand.  I scoop it just like a litter box, although of course the pee trickles down.  So far, so good, so maybe something similar for your guys would augment the inside boxes.

Plants - any mint is good, as it will keep raccoons away.  Also plant some basil (it is seasonal where I am, so I have to by new every year).  But I am amazed at how it keep flies away from my compound.

If the yard is big enough, separate places for Kimora and Mia shouldn't be hard - maybe a large dog kennel placed at opposite ends of the yard, each with it's own house/feeding station and potty area.  Not perfect but better than life on the streets.  It will also allow them to interact with the other cats without being able to actually have contact with them.  Plantings around each kennel will help make them less intrusive looking.

Can you use the downstairs of your house as the cats' inside space?  Maybe set it up as a cat room and give them access from the yard via a cat door?  There are collars for the cats (if they'll wear them) that have chips in them that will allow only certain cats in through the door.  (Also keep raccoons and other critters outside where they belong.)

This sounds like such a great set-up!  Thank you for helping them.  Fingers crossed that your neighbor will be able to trap the mommy, so there won't be more kitties!  There will be a sort of vacuum effect but if she keeps only enough food for the five remaining, it hopefully will work out.
 
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Norachan

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Thank you Ondine,

Some good ideas here. I'm going to let them all have the run of the house but I thought some outdoor shelters would be a good idea as some of them have only ever spent a couple of nights indoors when there have been blizzards. They'll have the whole summer to get used to the idea of coming into the house, shelters for the nights they prefer to say out and of course a cat door.

(Just think of all the spare time I'll have when I no longer have to open the door for them 30,000 times a day. 
)

I work from home so I'm going to be in Mia's room most of the day and I'll fence of an area right outside of her window so she'll have her own private garden. Kumori gets on pretty well with the others. I wanted her to have her own shed while her fur grows back. She needs to have a lot of mats shaved off and it's too cold for her to stay out at night if she's half bald. I thought somewhere quiet, away from all the chaos of moving would be better than trying to keep her in the house. Hopefully they'll all be happy to spend at least the nights indoors by next winter.

There are some really pretty flowering mint plants that grow wild around here, I'll plant lots of those. And Basil! I love basil, I'll put lots of that out too.

Signing the deeds on the 7th and the fence is going up on the 10th. 


I can't wait.
 

catwoman707

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What a wonderful well thought out plan you have!!

A few things came to mind as I read through, Ondine also hit on a couple of them.

First of all I think you will have plenty of space for them, I didn't get the cramped feeling at all.

They will all take on a comraderie in sort of a way because they are all in the same boat basically, everything will be all new except one another, so anyone who has issues with the others will likely put them aside, at least until they get security again and start being their old selves again.

The litterbox outside should be a simple design, basically just making a frame out of 2x6" wood, and either putting peat gravel in it or sand.

However you will want to keep the weather out in the wintertime, so a low cover type thing would be in order.

Then it can be scooped daily like a giant litterbox.

Basically the other thing that hit me is the fence, if you are not going to contain them for a longer acclimation period, just be very, very sure there is no way of escaping. 

Think like cat :)  
 
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Norachan

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Thank you Catwoman,

Yes, the fence is the part that worries me the most too. I'm going to e-mail a US company that specialise in cat proof fencing to see if they can ship stuff out to Japan. I think the biggest problem will be that we get around 2 meters of snow in the winter, I'm not sure the soft "collapsible type" cat fences would stand up to that.

 

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Norachan, you are AMAZING, AWESOME, GREAT! There aren't enough superlatives. How wonderful of you to take these guys with you and give so much thought to their comfort and well-being. It really is plenty of space, especially when you add in vertical shelves and trees.

The longer you can keep them confined, the more comfortable they'll become in their new surroundings, and the less inclined they will be to try to find a way out of the fence. With that many cats it is very likely that someone will succeed in finding a way out. Then they're like monkeys; monkey see, monkey do. In our experience, the angled-in chicken wire you mentioned (ours is 3"x4" welded wire, but chicken wire would be better) at the top of the fence is more effective when it's a little slack, so the cats feel like it won't support their weight. (But even so, there's always one!) The bottom photo Ondine shared looks like some of that plastic bird netting stuff. That would probably work very well.

To give them an outdoor area while your getting them settled in after the move, could you temporarily enclose the area under the deck with chicken wire and/or lattice and make it escape proof? Over here we have some green, plastic chicken wire looking stuff that is super strong and doesn't have any sharp wires like the regular chicken wire sometimes has. It's hard for humans to see through, but the cats don't seem to mind, and some of them really like to climb it. No damage to them or the plastic.

The potty pits we've made are easy to make, very clean and easy to maintain. Given the option, though, most of the cats prefer using dirt or the regular litter boxes.

I really doubt any reintroductions will be necessary, especially if there could still be some visual contact.
 
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Norachan

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They also have fencing toppers too, like this one:

http://catfence.com/pictures.htm

or this one:



Finally, this one looks like you could do it yourself:

They look like a much better idea. I really don't think the soft collapsible fencing will last the winters here so I'm going to go for sturdier wood post and chicken wire with some of those fence toppers. Thanks for the link.

 
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Norachan

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Norachan, you are AMAZING, AWESOME, GREAT! There aren't enough superlatives. How wonderful of you to take these guys with you and give so much thought to their comfort and well-being. It really is plenty of space, especially when you add in vertical shelves and trees.

The longer you can keep them confined, the more comfortable they'll become in their new surroundings, and the less inclined they will be to try to find a way out of the fence. With that many cats it is very likely that someone will succeed in finding a way out. Then they're like monkeys; monkey see, monkey do. In our experience, the angled-in chicken wire you mentioned (ours is 3"x4" welded wire, but chicken wire would be better) at the top of the fence is more effective when it's a little slack, so the cats feel like it won't support their weight. (But even so, there's always one!) The bottom photo Ondine shared looks like some of that plastic bird netting stuff. That would probably work very well.

To give them an outdoor area while your getting them settled in after the move, could you temporarily enclose the area under the deck with chicken wire and/or lattice and make it escape proof? Over here we have some green, plastic chicken wire looking stuff that is super strong and doesn't have any sharp wires like the regular chicken wire sometimes has. It's hard for humans to see through, but the cats don't seem to mind, and some of them really like to climb it. No damage to them or the plastic.

The potty pits we've made are easy to make, very clean and easy to maintain. Given the option, though, most of the cats prefer using dirt or the regular litter boxes.

I really doubt any reintroductions will be necessary, especially if there could still be some visual contact.
Susan your potty pits are great! I really like the idea of having a lid with hinges, it will make it much easier to clean.

Thanks for the tip, I'm, really looking forward to building and making stuff for them.

 

red top rescue

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There are a couple of interesting fence designs I've seen, plus one that an engineer friend helped me build which was not unlike the second picture sent by @ondine.  I still have the directions for that on my other computer if you should want it.  If you have a problem with branches falling in the winter that might damage chicken wire (we used the heavier wire with 1" x 2" rectangular openings), there is a new one a friend shared, made in Australia, that is just an odd triangular spinning rod that you attach to the top of their particular fence product (Oscillot) and prevents them from getting a grip to climb over, but the link I had from her no longer works.  Still, it is one of the many shown in the following link:

http://www.catsofaustralia.com/cat-enclosures.htm
 
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Norachan

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Wow, there are some beautiful cat enclosures on that site. I love the one with the goldfish pond and waterfalls, I wouldn't mind living in there myself.

I've found a Japanese company that make a flexible plastic mesh that is reinforced with steel wire inside the plastic. Supposedly unbreakable. (We'll have to put that to the test.) They also sell two meter high steel posts with an angled-in section at the top. I'm wondering if that would work. You can buy the mesh by the meter and the posts individually, which works out cheaper that the kits I've seen.



I have lots of ideas now, can't wait to get started.
 
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Norachan

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ondine

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What a lovely, tranquil place.  I can feel the peace all the way over here, across an ocean and a continent!

What lucky, lucky kitties and what a beautiful person they've found in you.
 
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Norachan

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Thank you guys.

The first part of the fence is going up next week. I'll keep you posted.

 
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Norachan

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Hi, 
I'm just pegging the bottom down with metal spikes and banking earth up so as the cats don't try to dig their way under it.


If you look closely you can see the house in the top centre of the picture.


 We took Mia, our most difficult cat up on Thursday so she would have a few days to settle in by herself. I'm using a Feliway diffuser and it's working miracles. Mia usually screams and shreds the curtain if she's kept indoors, but she's the happiest I've ever seen her.


 Mia doesn't like the other cats so she is going to have her own room and garden. This is just a small corner of it.


The other thing I've put in is a big ceramic pot to collect rain water for them to drink.


We're planning to move another two cats up on Tuesday and then two more on Thursday. Should have them all moved up by the end of the month. I want to keep them in for a minimum of 7 days before they are allowed out to test the fence.

Got to cat proof the trees too!

Does it look OK to you guys?
 
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jcat

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It looks like a paradise! You're going to have your work cut out for you trimming branches so they don't extend too near the fence.
 
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