As the day approaches when Scrappy and her kittens are due to go back outside, we have been busy dog proofing the cat garden in preparation.
Dog Proofing the Cat Garden for Scrappy And Her Kittens
A Quick Recap on the Story So Far
Scrappy was taken ill and had to have major surgery.
She and her five kittens came to live in one of our back rooms while she was treated. They have enjoyed five star service with full room service and litter box changes four times per day. You can read all about it here.
I spoke to the vet today and made an appointment for Monday morning. We will take the whole family which should be a fun car ride. It will also be a long appointment by the time everything is done!
Scrappy will have her clips removed from her surgery and have a blood test as she still shows some symptoms of cystitis. She may need further antibiotics, we will have to wait and see. The kittens are now eight weeks old and so on Monday they will start their vaccinations. Then on Tuesday they will all be able to go out to live with their Mum in the cat garden.
What Is The Cat Garden?
One of my friends thought it was a great idea to have a cat garden where you could grow kittens.
Regular readers will know we live half way up a mountain in Central Italy and are surrounded by olive groves.
We have a lot of cats, including some that live outside (the outside cats – took a lot of thought to come up with that name LOL). There are lots of wild animals, so we created a ‘cat garden’ at the front of the house, a safe space (or so we thought) for our cats to sleep.
There is an area under the stairs with cat beds with snuggy blankets. That is actually where Scrappy chose to birth her kittens.
All the cats are fed in the cat garden, we have two tables that we feed them on and a chair in case someone needs help to jump up. There is constant shade provided in summer to protect them from the fierce Italian sun and the sleeping area is insulated against the cold in winter. Fresh water is always available for them.
We also have another not renovated room at the back at the house that is given over to cats. There are stalls for them to sleep in, cat beds and the luxury of an armchair.
Why Does It Need Dog Proofing?
Roaming Pack of Dogs
In the last year we have had a problem with a roaming pack of dogs. These would appear to be hunting dogs. Individual dogs have either been lost during a hunt or have escaped their cages (don’t get me started on how some of these dogs are kept). These individuals have got together to form a pack. We have seen as many as nine of them together but sometimes they break up into smaller groups.
Because these dogs are ex-hunting dogs they are used to people and they run away from us. They don’t seem to be dangerous for us. But they are hungry and that is where things start to get unpleasant.
The Compost Bin
The first thing we noticed was that the contents of our compost bin were disappearing in the night. The bins are just outside the cat garden. Remains of biodegradable bags and items of food were strewn on the grass. We realized that something was coming and eating the food. We thought it might be wild animals. Then we caught the dogs in the act.
I was really upset about this as the contents of the bin include coffee grounds which are poisonous to dogs and presumably the wild animals too. We immediately secured the lid of the bin with heavy weights and that seemed to be the end of that problem.
Dogs Got In The Cat Garden
But then the dogs started getting into the cat garden, obviously searching for food. They were able to jump over the fence surprisingly easy. I suppose being hunting dogs they are used to getting over obstacles. There is one blood hound that kept getting stuck trying to get out again, I have tried to catch it a couple of times but it panics when I approach and manages to find the necessary few inches to escape over the fence.
Cats started to go missing (yes, I am not saying it but you know what happened to them) and it was very distressing. We have lost three cats. The local Comune and dog catcher seemed unable to do anything as these dogs roam over a large area. We might see them two or three days running and then not again for several weeks or months as they are off scavenging in other areas.
A Quick Change In Our Habits
We quickly changed some habits when the dogs first started showing up.
While we still feed the cats in the cat garden we no longer leave food in there generally. We used to have a cat feeder full of dry food that the cats could access day or night and it was in the cat garden. That has now been dismantled and instead we leave small amounts in bowls on our porch – so far the dogs haven’t made it up there as they won’t come near us. The front door is a bit close for comfort and there is a security light that comes on that they don’t like.
We also made sure our water cannon were available at all times – these fire a jet of water that might be enough to deter a dog about to grab a cat and give the cat time to escape.
Planning and Saving For Dog Proofing Solutions
We resolved to dog proof the cat garden so at least the cats would be safe in there – or as safe as we can get them. That involved saving up for the necessary work to get some extensions to fencing and some additional fencing. All of that work was completed this week. The new metal work has been dipped in orange rust proofing so it is a bit of a shock to the senses but it will tone down once it is painted green to match the existing fencing.
We tested the area by putting our two dogs Ringo and Spud in there for a while. They couldn’t get out (and Spud really tried – his nickname is Houdini). I am hoping that means getting in would be just as tricky!
We are as ready as we can be for Scrappy and the kids to go outside on Tuesday.
I will worry myself stupid over it of course. Four weeks I have looked after them and I adore this little family. But they can’t live the rest of their lives in one small room and I already have four cats and two dogs in the house so adding six more is not remotely sensible. I keep telling myself that in the night when I can’t sleep! It is kitten season here (as elsewhere) and loads of people have kittens they are trying to find homes for. We will keep ours and they will be spayed and neutered when the time comes.
What else will I spend the proceeds of my art on if not feeding my little feline friends?
Article About Me
A lovely article of an interview with me has just been posted. In it I talk about how I got started blogging and my motivation for writing. You can read it here.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!