Well, strictly speaking, it wasn’t an escape (or it was one carefully planned by the staff.) But the cats think it was an escape.
|Mitzi musing on the outdoor experience (KN)
Visitors to the Double-Wide will find there are several barriers to access. The main door is quite heavy – but there’s a cat-door carefully situated there for the times when there’s no human to be butler. The door between the laundry room and the main room is very light, and there’s a cutout in the frame at the bottom. Many cats have learned how to open the door from either side, and the cutout prevents any tails from getting caught. And then between the main room and the deck, there’s another door – and once again, a cat-flap allows access.
For years the cats who have gravitated to the back deck have been the shyest ones, the ones who are wary of humans, even when out of reach. In this safe space, some of them have learned that we’re not so bad – but they are still wary about moving out of their space and braving what must look like an obstacle course. And to be honest, that’s what it is – the laundry room door in particular is a real barrier to a very shy or feral cat, and often that’s a good thing, since the cat spends more time where we can keep an eye on it.
|Ringo hovering by the deck door (BC)
Ringo is typical of this sort of cat. He spent most of his first year tucked into a Back Deck corner as high up and out of the way as he could manage. He froze around humans, and floor level was not comfortable for him. Then gradually we found he was making his way into the main room, mostly at times when there were very few people around. He was learning that not only humans, but also other cats meant him no harm. Eventually he made his way through the building, probably managing the laundry room door when another cat went through. He established himself outside the DoubleWide door, making little forays to explore. These days he spends most of his time out in the back pens, either sleeping in the gardens or following his buddy Zivko around.
|Ringo relaxed in the garden (MW)
However, very few of the other Deck cats seemed to want to follow him. Finally this summer it was decided that we needed another cat-door, and one was cut into the emergency exit that opens onto the passageway by Pen 1. It didn’t take much to have a general exodus. There were a couple of early panics when someone made their way into Pen 1 and then couldn’t find the gate to return – but once that was solved, there was quite a lot of visiting.
|Hickory returning from an exploration (KN)
Hickory was the most ready to explore beyond the immediate vicinity. But he also appreciated a comfy bed at the top of the stairs.
|Hickory just outside the cat-door (KN)
Bubbles prefers to stay fairly close to the door for now – but he enjoys being a sun-worshipper.
Denzel too is not venturing far yet – but you can see from his happy tail that he’s good with the change.
Ziggy took her time – but a nice comfy chair was too good to pass up!
Ursula is remembering her outside life as a feral kitten – and we hope she’s preferring what she has now.
And, astonishingly, Kin, who prefers to hide, (see the blog of two weeks ago) also braved the cat-door and found a little patch of green where he could sit and think.
|Kin, out in the big wide world (KN)
There are still a few who’ve not poked their heads through the door – but we all know about curiosity and cats – and there’s lots in the back courtyard for them to be curious about! Watch for updates…
Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Karen Nicholson & Michele Wright