Dear John: In 2022, we purchased three outdoor houses for our three outdoor cats. One on the front porch and the other in the backyard. The houses are exposed but under the porch roof and barn roof.
The front porch cat is a female, while the backyard has two male cats, and they don’t get along. The cats initially slept in these small houses, especially when the weather was cold, but now none of the three sleep inside these structures.
We have cleaned the beds and kept them free of debris. We are looking for an answer to why three cats refuse to sleep in these three structures, especially now that the weather is getting colder.
– Patrick and Mary Taylor, San Jose
Dear Patrick and Mary: Cats can be very finicky and picky when it comes to sleeping choices, but I guess some other creature comes sniffing around houses, maybe even snoozes inside, and Now cats don’t feel safe. When you’re an outdoor cat, you’re probably most vulnerable when you’re sleeping.
My suggestion is to remove the beds from the ground and place them in secluded areas. Narrow entrances and cut emergency escape holes in homes. Cats feel safer in tight, enclosed spaces.
For warmth, line the houses with bubble wrap, then add lots of straw. It not only makes beds comfortable, but also provides insulation against falling temperatures. Straw will stay drier than cloth bedding.
Dear John: For many years, I was able to grow wonderful tomatoes through baskets. Then about 4 years ago mice and squirrels took over. They lie in wait until the tomatoes are almost ripe and then finish the crop. I’ve been lucky enough to get a half dozen, partially ripe tomatoes for myself.
Last year, I built a frame around my raised bed, but all I had was chicken wire and the holes were too big to keep mice out.
I’m marshaling the forces for next year. I plan to replace the chicken wire with ¼-inch wire mesh, hopefully that will do the trick. Does this sound like a solution?
– Dave, Los Altos
Dear Dave: Oh no they didn’t! Our tomato crops are sacred and will only be shared with a select few. Permission cannot be granted without permission.
As you may have discovered, chicken wire is not the right choice when it comes to keeping mice and squirrels out. I think it’s good for keeping chickens corralled, but not much. The holes are no obstacle to mice, and the wire is so weak that any creature with a decent set of choppers can easily cut through it.
My recommendation is hardware cloth. It has quarter-inch holes and is usually made of steel. Unless the rat has superpowers, he won’t get in.
You want to completely enclose the tomatoes and bury the hardware cloth a few feet down to discourage tunneling.
Dear Readers: Just a note of thanks to you, my loyal readers and friends, on this Christmas day. I greatly appreciate your questions, suggestions and conversations as we learn together how to best live with our animal brothers and sisters. I wish you many blessings of the season.
Animal life runs on Mondays. Reach Joan Morris at AskJoanMorris@gmail.com