Sheila has 11 cats, 3 dogs and a giant heart. While her home is large, she had also opened her garage to her cats, and created a cool pen off the garage so that predators cannot get to her cats in her hillside home in Encinitas, Ca.
Even with all this space, numerous cats were peeing in the home, destroying her lovely things. Sheila had shut them out primarily in the garage. At least one cat a day peed in her office and several in her living room. It was hard to know even who was doing it with this large herd of cats.
On the one hand, these cats had a home. On the other hand, these cats simply had a home and very little engagement. All 11 of these cats at various times felt disconnection. This was beyond giving each one of them a purpose because who would even acknowledge it!
Deep down, Sheila could feel like "hey I do all of this for the cats..." yet, in the end, her guilt and feeling badly about the fact that she didn't have time resulted in the cats getting away with peeing wherever they felt like it.
When we talked, I suggested just spending intervals of 5 minutes a day a couple times a day walking through the garage with a string or something to activate play and engage the cats.
Knowing that Sheila didn't have the time to spend with each and every cat every day, she came up with a much better idea. She built a catrium. The catrium is full of hiding spots, a jungle gym and toys attached to things so they can truly entertain themselves. Sheila had a lot of fun designing this!
Now that Sheila is on the other side of this completed project, she learned a lot about herself. She wasn't even aware that at times she experienced an overwhelm that bordered on depression - because she didn't know where to begin with cats.
How many of us feel hostage to our situation? I think a lot of people do. Sometimes thinking of the most outrageous thing (like a cat jungle gym) and then making it realistic can save the day! Sheila's thinking outside of the box helped her and her cats immensely.
You can imagine also that when you feel like you're doing the right thing as a human, as in adopting many animals, and then it didn't go perfectly, there would be a lot of underlying human feelings that would come out like resentment, frustration, etc. that the cats would pick up on. And then all of the cats have their individual feelings about it all.
Because Sheila is feeling better about everything, now EVERYONE in the household is feeling lighter, happier and no more peeing in her office. She also learned that cats really do need exercise and an abundance of play! So far they seem to be too busy to air any grievances in the home!!
Sheila has added an indoor area, picture below and a private area for one very persnickety cat. I asked her about the costs and she said it was not expensive at all. The 450 square feet addition was $378 in materials and the indoor space in the garage so far has been $150.00. (Does not include labor.)
Even if you don't have the space to do this outside, and if you are renting a space, certainly coming up with a creative wall, or shelves could help your cats a lot. When I line up chairs for workshops here, my cats think I've created their next obstacle course for them!
You can follow Sheila's blog at Sheila's blog and see more of her catrium adventures. She will be guest blogging on my blog with the rest of the story on the indoor space and the elder cat home in her house!
Certainly, between all of these ideas you may find some help here for a pesky, bored or naughty cat! Of course my last episode in blogging is all about cat training: Joan's cat training story.