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November 12, 2004

In case you hadn't noticed ...

Our domestic hair factories might be the slightest bit ... well, shall we say ... spoiled?

Okay -- yeah, they're spoiled, at least to the extent any animal who's one of five can possibly be spoiled. They eat pretty much what they want, if not always as much as they want; we've gone out of our way to make the house cat- and/or dog-proof and safe.

And then, there's the run.

Yeah, we have a run out back for the cats and the dog, when he'll go out there. He's kind of clingy, though, so most of the time he won't stay unless we're out there. The cats, I probably need not tell you, have no such reservations.

Actually, we had discussed putting a run in long before the dog ever became an issue, when it was just Tink, Gord and Doodle (what kind of house do you live in, when you 'just' have three cats ... oh, well, never mind). Doodle, especially, always liked to go outside -- she learned to walk on a lead and harness so she could go, that's how much she liked it.

These images are of the back yard before we built the run. The blue tape around the window was from the measurements we made when we applied for the municipality permit to install it:



Our house is a 'true tri-level' -- there are three floors, all roughly equivalent in size, one half underground with a second floor above, and a front part that's halfway between the others vertically. There is no back door on the house, if we want to access the back yard, we have to go out either the front door or the garage door. This is the one real pain in the ass about the house -- we like just about everything else about it.

Anyway, we'd discussed and researched installing a protected outdoor space for the cats before we even had the dog or Squeek. Perennial procrastinators that we are, though, we didn't get around to doing it until the summer of '04. The rate we do some other unnecessary but desirable things, it's a wonder we got it done at all.

The best way for us to ensure we'll finish something is to go out and spend the money on the materials to do the job. Once the money's spent, we'll do it.

Here's 'Phase I' -- there aren't any pictures of the fun Saturday we spent (okay -- Tony spent) with the rental gas-powered post-hole digger, digging two-foot cores in the root-bound, rock-shot clay that comprises the entirety of the soil in this part of Ohio from about four inches down. It wasn't pretty, let's just leave it at that. This was after we'd installed many of the four-by-four outer support posts:



And some more from this part of the job:



We -- two fortyish desk-jockeys, mind you -- did all this ourselves. Tony did most of the heaviest lifting, and took over anything my hands eventually refused to do (I'm lucky I don't have carpal tunnel so bad, from all the typing I've done over the years, that I can't move half my fingers; I also have inherited osteoarthritis in my hands from both sides of my family).

Among other things, we used two-by-eight boards all around the perimeter, burying them about four inches below ground level (so the cats couldn't just dig under them and take off), and the four-by-four posts are buried two feet below ground level. We used coated two-by-three fencing to put a "skin" around the outside, and fiberglass netting for the "roof."

It's all fastened on with galvanized staples. And yeah, that was a royal pain in the ass, tedious and difficult. We wore out the first stapler to the point it wouldn't drive a staple straight into a block of American cheese, and probably went a long way toward destroying the second one, too. Really, though, it was a relatively inexpensive and relatively easy way of closing the thing in -- the city didn't want us to use anything that would qualify as "chicken wire," not that I'd have thought four healthy, reasonably young cats couldn't have figured out a way to get through chicken wire.

This is the only shot of the finished run that shows anything, and it doesn't really show a whole lot -- we'll probably take some pictures in the spring, once the grass has recovered.


Also, I've planted some tulips near the door, around the corner from it, that I hope will come up in the spring. They're outside, so the cats shouldn't be able to get at them, but at the same time, I can always shove one of them out there to scare off any rabbits who might decide they look like good eating, once they start to sprout in the spring.

Needless to say, the cats love the thing. We put in a canopied swing, which we did sit in a few times before the weather got cold, and a PVC shelving unit the cats like to sit on. There's also a self-filling watering bowl, intended for the dog, but I doubt very much he'll want to spend much time out there unless we're there.

More later about the 'adventures of small critters inadvertently finding themselves in the cat run.' There are a few already, and they've only had access to the thing for just over three months.

Posted by Melinda at November 12, 2004 11:28 PM


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