Deidre says: you may not shower until I am done lying on the bath mat.

Deidre says: you may not shower until I am done lying on the bath mat.

So in my ever-expanding quest to catify the apartment to a) make them happy and b) help ease tensions, I re-did a corner of the living room again, all new and kitteh-like.  I moved the stairstep scratcher into the bedroom (its intended purchase was to provide steps to go up to the bed, though it has never been used that way), moved a litter box into that corner, added another wall shelf, cut the Cardboard House of Awesome in half, and added a sky chair.

Wait, why did I cut the Cardboard House of Awesome in half?  It has four stories inside made of super industrial cardboard.  Well, one of those stories went bye-bye after it was peed upon.  Two more have buckled and been clawed to death (btw, yes – considering I’ve had the House for I think a couple of years, that’s durable for them to have lasted this long).  They could no longer hop through all the stories up to the rooftop.  So I took the inner floor that was still intact and one of the buckling ones that was the least damaged (it wouldn’t matter if it was buckling if it was upside down and on the ground level), and made it a two-story House of Awesome instead.  I added a basket with the warming blanket I made them on top, and now they have a salvaged Cardboard House of Awesome!

I first tried making new levels out of the giant box my massage table came in.  Since they weren't strong enough, it was a wash, but Yuan had a good time helping me.

I first tried making new levels out of the giant box my massage table came in. Since they weren’t strong enough, it was a wash, but Yuan had a good time helping me.

Now, the sky chair.  Have you ever seen those beds that are pillows hung from the ceiling with cloth, like this?  I’ve long wanted to get one for my kitties, but I am, alas, but a poor blogger and funds are tight.  So, I made a makeshift one of my own!

All I did really was take one of their pillows that my grandmother had made them years ago, and suspended it in a macrame plant hanger.  Voilà!  Instant kitty sky chair!

So this is what the new-and-improved cat corner looks like:

Yuan really likes those Ruth Thompson prints (he paws and meows at them), so I'm imagining him chilling in the sky chair looking up at his favorite artwork.

Yuan really likes those Ruth Thompson prints (he paws and meows at them), so I’m imagining him chilling in the sky chair looking up at his favorite artwork.

I hope they like the changes.  Yuan has already been in the cup on the stairstep scratcher in the bedroom (I’m hoping its proximity to my pillows will facilitate two – or three – cats sharing bedtime with me with less of an issue, though it has been getting better already anyway).  But so far the corner has not been claimed (I just put up the sky chair this afternoon, and was modifying the Cardboard House of Awesome at about three this morning).  Maybe I’ll put out some catnip to signal that construction is complete.

Now if only I could mount a sky chair for *me* from the ceiling…

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I finally made a video on YouTube explaining how to make kitty shelves like I have.  Please check it out and share pictures if you make some! 🙂

Shifts and Changes

15/05/2012

Just a quick post – so sorry that hasn’t been very frequent as of late – to say WOW my kitties amaze me. 🙂

Both Maggie and Deidre, in addition to Yuan, have started to enjoy balcony time.  I caught Deidre’s first foray onto the balcony on video, even… I was vlogging every day in April (that’s a thing – VEDA – vlog every day in April) and so had my iPod (yep, that’s what I was vlogging with!) on hand when she ventured forth.  We’ve lived in this apartment for 4 1/2 YEARS and this was the first time she’s ever been out on the balcony.  Now she very much likes it.  Here’s the video, if you’re interested:

Yuan had his 4th birthday, when he told me that he’d like a special planter box as part of my balcony garden of good kitty plants to play in.  He kept trying to lie down in the still-dirt pots, when it finally got through that he needed a little piece of nature to be free in.  So, I designated a big pot just for kitties that I will plant (now I should be able to actually plant it, since we’re past Mother’s Day, which is the usual Colorado last frost date for gardeners) with cat grass, catnip, and marigolds (which I found out are safe for kitties).  He has already taken to lying in the dirt in it and it’s his new favorite bed.  I got that on video during the vlogs, too:

Also, the kitties have been dancing (and sleeping, and eating) ever closer to each other without fights.  Not only have there been less potty accidents (they were getting pretty prevalent for a while, there), but, for instance, Maggie has joined Deidre on the bed, Yuan has joined Deidre on the bed, and Deidre has joined Yuan on the bed (that’s the real amazement – that she made the move to join him!), whether I’m on the bed or not.  I’ve also caught two of them at a time under the bed (normally I store a bunch of stuff under my bed, but since I’ve been cleaning the carpet in sections and moving furniture around, it’s been empty under there – so no walls between them of stuff), and one on top of a chair and one underneath it.  They’ve shifted territories more times than I can count just in the past couple of months, with both of the girls expanding their territory once again and Yuan taking it very much in stride.  They’ve even switched litter boxes!  Deidre has reclaimed her cubby on the floor-to-ceiling scratcher too – yay!  I also caught Yuan and Deidre giving each other blink-kisses a while back – amazing!  I’m still expecting Maggie to chase him around at any moment… she has already reached the “I don’t take his crap” stage… just waiting for the playful chasing stage…

Maggie had a little scare that prompted a vet visit at the beginning of April, but she’s OK and was proscribed a canned-only diet for a while (and possibly doing it permanently).  She seems to be doing really well on it, and has more energy.  This, of course, makes the other two ask constantly why Maggie gets canned noms more often than they do…

Yuan, always the purveyor of fine headbonks, seems to be really communicating with me more when he does it now.  Our sessions seem to be fewer in frequency but greater in love-sharing.  His purr just melts my heart.  To fully appreciate his art of headbonking, I have been trained to take off my glasses and get into it.  Sometimes we’ll just bonk heads and stay there for a while, and I feel like our hearts are touching.  He’s my sweet teacher-man.

And finally, Yuan really appreciates the new furniture arrangement so far.  I’ve got a stool and the brown scratcher beneath the shelves on the wall now, and he loves the new jungle-gym-esque multi-level action going on.  Also, I’ve got the green scratcher in a corner with two Ruth Thompson prints above it on either side, of The Druid and The Priestess.  He LOVES those prints.  He talks to them and rubs his paws (no claws) on them all the time.  He’s a high priest, that Yuan.

Well, that’s about it for now.  There was pretty much daily footage of the kitties through April on those vlogs if you care to go take a peek at them, but of course also lots of my human self yammering on and whatnot as well. 😉  Thanks for reading!

A Yuletide miracle

12/12/2011

Alright, you can sit next to me... but I'm watching you

Just a little update for today, with some happy news on the progress front.  Above you see the very first time in over three years that Maggie and Deidre have sat next to each other on the scratcher – and they even stayed put for a while!

What prompted this show of tolerance and peace?  The big, scary, noisy, yellow thing, AKA the vacuum.  Deidre had already taken refuge in the cubby, and Maggie hopped up to the other shelf when the vacuum came too close.  At first, I don’t think she even realized Deidre was there, or perhaps she was just the lesser of two scary things right then, as both the girls seem to agree that the vacuum is a demon from the seventh circle of hell.  There were some growls at first, but then they calmed down and settled in to weather out the invasion of the noise-making monster.  No swats, no fights.  It brought a tear to my eye.

 

Then just last night, all three kitties seemed to get a case of the midnight crazies all at the same time.  As Yuan is the more energetic of the three, I’m used to him having a moment of pent-up kitten-like energy and zooming around or trying to get into things he shouldn’t (the boy could rob museums he’s so ninja, is what I’m saying).  Maggie’s bouts of midnight crazies, on the other hand, are so rare as to be shockingly notable – but she’s had three frisky moments in the past week!  Last night was even more notable as she was playing with a couple of toys on the ground.  So, she’s playing with toys, you might say.  That’s not notable.

Except that toys, with rare exception, have historically either fallen into the “EVIL!  RAWR!  HISS!” category of unhappy Maggie sounds, or the “…and?” category of cat apathy.  She’ll lick a few, and chase a laser, but other than that, she’s never really batted them around or otherwise seemed amused by their presence.  But last night, she not only played with the Stinky toy from our furriend M-chan, but she also attacked a tribble!  I was delighted, to say the least.  She’s been opening up so much lately, it makes a mom proud.

Then Miss Deidre, who hasn’t been too playful as of late either, had a crazed session with a fur mouse the other day, and last night decided that the marker/magnet board that is mounted on the wall above my bed that she has ignored for months was suddenly *too* tempting to resist.  Deidre is like that – feign nonchalance at something for a long time, and then, after a year and a half, eats my betta fish (true story).  Well last night the siren song of dangling markers and paper held in place by magnets finally was too much to ignore.  As I was trying to sleep, I was laughing my butt off as she batted at dangling objects above my head.  I woke up and plucked magnets, markers, and paper from my pillow (remarkably, nothing clobbered me).

I love frisky kitties.

In 2.5 seconds after this photo, Deidre will: a) nap b) pounce the camera c) snuggle you. Choose wisely.

Hello everyone!

I wanted to apologize for not blogging in a while, but don’t worry, the kittehs are fine!  In fact, they have been doing quite well, I think.  Maggie has been super brave, for one – she’s joined me and Deidre on the bed, she goes all over the main part of the apartment instead of limiting her range to just one tiny section, and she doesn’t panic so much when one of her siblings does something intimidating.  In fact, Yuan has taken to doing this cross between an intimidating thing and a playful thing, or I’m not sure which it is because I am a mere human and they are much better at speaking my language than I am at theirs.  Maggie will be on the floor, and he’ll come rushing at her, but in this cute, hopping motion.  It’s a cross between “I’m making myself look big and intimidating” and what I call the “ferret U-jump”.  He’s literally hop-jumping at an angle toward her with his back arched like a ferret.  He never attacks or hisses or growls or pounces or claws or anything though, and her reaction is slowly changing from “AAAAHHH!” to “WTF, dude?”  I am pretty well convinced at this point that if she ever ran back after him when he did it, they could have a play session chasing around the apartment.  I know the back-arch is often a kitty intimidating pose, but every other thing about his hop-skip-jump just seems so playful to me, I think it’s more of a “Let’s play!  I want to wrestle!!” type maneuver.  We shall see as time goes on.

Miss Deidre has been making me proud in that she has become rather accommodating to her siblings having a little cuddle time with me on the bed (the bed is Deidre territory), and also that she is taking less time to adjust to people being over in the apartment (she normally hides when I have company).  Not only did she make special friends with my recent house guest, but she came out to say hi when I had people over just hanging out for the evening after a few hours, instead of staying in her kitty black hole of ninja hiding the whole time like she normally would.  She is sloooooowly re-expanding her territory… at one point she was limiting herself to just the immediate area around the bed, and as of late she’ll have run of the entire living room, and has re-claimed the brown cat tree near the sliding glass doors.  At this point, Maggie has a wider range than Deidre does, though, which is quite the reversal.  I’m hoping that as time goes on, Deidre will feel comfortable in more places too, and is just taking the slow-and-steady route.

Ah, kitteh negotiating timetables.  I can’t wait for the day I catch them giving each other a snuggle or a bath.

Yuan is as ever my playful, headbonking man.  He is the reason I’m making a concerted effort to keep the bathroom door shut because otherwise he tears through the toilet paper.  I also need to buy some baby-safe cabinet latches, because he loves to climb in just about every cupboard he can get to.  That’s his way of telling me that he wants more cubbies.  So I’m going to have to build him more cubbies!

Also, he loves the snow. And balcony time in general.

I have said before that I wish I had a little more space for the kittehs so they wouldn’t feel like they’re in each others’ faces quite so much, but I have made some strides in this area by incorporating vertical space in my apartment.  For cats, vertical space is more important than horizontal space.  They like to survey from on high, hide away in cubbies, and explore.  So today we’ll talk about our cat furniture!

I have three cat trees, the cardboard house of awesome, and shelves that I built on the wall (that I intend on adding to).  I’m thinking of making a how-to for making the shelves, as I’ve had people ask me.  They’re simple enough, and since I’m going to add to them anyway, why not?

Staggered for your climbing pleasure

All balled up like that she simultaneously looks adorable and extra-fluffy

All of the kittehs have partaken in the wall shelves at various stages; right now they are Deidre territory, prior to that they were Yuan territory, prior to that they were Maggie territory.  It’s amazing the recycling of territories my cats do.

The cardboard house of awesome is four levels on the inside, five if you count the top of the roof, with lots of windows and peek-a-boo holes for kittehs to observe and play in.  It was at first Deidre territory, and now it’s Yuan territory.  Maggie is claustrophobic I think, as even with catnip and treats, she’d at most jump in to get the treat and then run right back out.  She hates carriers too for the same reason.  She also won’t go in a litter box that is too sheltered – no covered boxes for her!

The Cardboard House of Awesome

Our very first cat tree, the brown one, has gotten lots of love over the years and is still going strong (Doctors Foster and Smith FTW!).  Side note: I do not have any endorsement deals with them, I just love their products. 🙂

Here's Yuan happily perched on top of the cubby

See? It's loved.

Our second cat tree, also from Drs. Foster & Smith, is the floor-to-ceiling one that Yuan is fond of launching on and off of at high speeds.  Able to make it on top of the cubby in a single bound!  It’s… Suuuuuuuper Yuan!

When I first installed it

Below is a picture of my neighbor’s cat having fun climbing the cat tree all the way to the ceiling.  She was actually the first kitty to do so!  Now Yuan does it all the time.  Deidre stops at the cubby, and Maggie stops at the shelves.  If I could add anything to this cat tree, it would be a shelf near the top.  I suppose I could try re-arranging the setup and see if it works, but it took three tries (and re-ordering of missing/broken parts) to put it together the first time, so I am loathe to undo it again. 😉

Cleo the Brave

But don’t worry, my kittehs love this cat tree too (and for the record, at first Deidre and Maggie had it divided in half: Deidre had the cubby and the lower scratching post, Maggie had the two shelves; then Yuan came into the family and staked his claim on the whole thing; now Yuan is still all over it but Maggie has reasserted her right to chill on the shelves.  I haven’t seen Deidre on it in a while).

Deidre looooooves it... so hopefully she'll be back on it soon

Finally we have the stair-stepper green cat tree, which I bought with the idea in mind that Deidre has a bit of a time jumping onto my bed; it’s as high as it will go on the frame, and she is twelve years old.  She can do it, but she lands on the corner and then scrambles the rest of the way up.  I bought this one for the spiral stairs aspect, figuring that she could climb up the stairs to get onto the bed instead of making that leap all the time.  At first, she would chill in the cup at the top but didn’t use the stairs to get onto the bed at all.  Then Yuan started sharing use of the cup, then I did a bit of rearranging and now it sits right in front of the homemade wall shelves, and viola!  Deidre uses the stairs (and one of the wall shelves) to climb on the bed now.  So does Maggie.  But it’s mostly Deidre on it now, both in the cup, on the stairs, and hiding under the stairs when I’ve got company or her brother is too close for comfort.

"What is that boy doing now?"

All of this cat furniture has allowed my trio to stake their (ever-changing) claims on territory and have a little more space, more places to nap, hide, play, scratch… oh yeah, and scratching?  They don’t claw my furniture, either (not that I have nice furniture).  But they’ve got scratchers everywhere (plus a few horizontal cardboard scratchers and one horizontal sisal scratcher), so they pretty much leave my other furniture alone (the one exception is that if it’s exposed, i.e., no sheets on it, Deidre looooves to scratch on my bed mattress.  Which is no big deal, as it’s not expensive either).  The other bonus to this is I don’t have to trim their claws because they take care of it themselves (I do find shed sheaths here and there periodically), except Maggie did get her back claws trimmed at her recent groomer trip (she’s my declawed one, remember, so it’s not so easy for her).

You may be thinking that you don’t have space for all this cat furniture.  I don’t have much in the way of space either – my one-bedroom apartment is somewhere around 630 square feet, which while more space than some of you probably have, isn’t as big as a lot of people’s living spaces (I have the smallest home of any of my family or friends).  First, I go on the thought that this is the kittehs’ home too.  This is not my home and they are just guests; this is our home and they are family; they deserve to have their needs taken care of, and that means their own spaces.  I don’t need every inch of space devoted to me and my needs.  Second, there are plenty of small-space options, such as the wall shelves (you can also buy pre-made wall shelves and window perches and the like if you’re not crafty).  Plus when mounting to walls, as long as you give them a path up, you can do catwalks near the ceiling and then it hardly is taking up any human-level wall space at all (I want to do this some day.  Small steps!  Wider shelves to accommodate fluffy kitties and sprawling out, as well as more cubbies for Yuan (he LOVES cubbies – the yang to Maggie’s yin) come first).  And finally, if you can only fit one cat tree, I recommend a floor-to-ceiling (or something close) number like the cream-colored one I have, so that you get more levels and cubbies for your square footage allowance.  They are built to accommodate varying ceiling heights, and if you’ve got really high ceilings, you can get additional scratcher poles to make it even taller (my ceilings are pretty darn low, so I actually had to get the pole that comes out the top to brace it against the ceiling cut.  It was no big deal, I went to Ace Hardware down the block and they took care of it nicely!).