Many of our cats have come to the Sanctuary as untamed ferals, and the experience of being caged is very uncomfortable for them – necessary, initially, because we need to take time to assess them and have the Kitty Comforters work with them – but often not something that can be sustained.
These are the cats who, in other circumstances, would be deemed unadoptable, and euthanized; they don’t want anything to do with us, and in the buildings, they try to stay high up and out of the way, or hidden behind a drape. In the gardens they can find hiding places in the greenery.
|Chirpy supervising planting (KN)|
|Lindor helping with choices (KN)|
The Sanctuary is truly a sanctuary for them, because there are so many places they can hide, especially if they are back-courtyard cats. We have several volunteers who are gardeners, and much work has gone into filling flower beds, so that they can also be safe cat-beds.
|Leonardo diCatprio (KN)|
Preparing the garden to do some new planting always brings a few feline helpers, and planting needs to be done quickly to avoid too many deposits in the fresh soil.
Some plants, like lilies, are not good for cats to be around, and they have been carefully eradicated; roses rather than lilies have gone into the beds, as well as splashes of colour with red runner beans (tasty for humans) and nasturtiums. Summer interns have seen to the regular watering of both front and back gardens, and emptied water-bowls keep things moist.
|Charlotte staying out of reach (KN)|
There is netting all around the Sanctuary to keep the cats in and the coyotes out – but the mesh is hidden for the most part by shrubbery, which offers shy cats all kinds of place to hide. Japanese knotweed springs up very quickly around the edges, and needs constant cutting back – but the cats in the north pens like it for shade and sleeping places.
Some of the pens are grassed, and it’s often allowed to grow to give comfy corners for snoozing; maintaining it is hard, though, since the little feline “gifts” in the grass make a standard mower impractical, and the weed-whacker is pretty noisy.
|Potted Holland (KN)|
In the pens that are largely paved, greenery is provided with potted plants, and climbing plants. And if the pots are large enough, they provide another comfy place for resting.
Pen 6 has both real and artificial grass – but many of the inhabitants like to be up on the waist-level walkway where they can have shade and hiding places in overhanging plants, or sitting on the window-ledge of their play-hut.
|Sandy goes climbing (KN)|
Trees have their place too – both to provide leafy hiding places, and to allow for some height. We were all concerned when feral Sandy needed a back leg amputation to rid her of a cancer; it’s good to see that it hasn’t slowed her down much, and she’s even trying a little tree-climbing.
Even Ollie will abandon his bed on the clean laundry to go out and enjoy a little sunshine and smell the flowers – and Alfred will take time out from bugging other cats to enjoy the garden world.