CATio of the Week – Jenny’s CATio

Recently we featured a story about cats and wildlife, and how building a CATio, an enclosed patio just for a cat, can allow your cat fresh air, sunshine, flowers, and their own little garden without hunting and killing birds or bothering other wildlife. A CATio would protect your cat from being harmed by owls, coyotes and other predators – like bad people. Everyone loved it!

This week we feature another great example of a CATio and the happy cats who get to hang out in them!

“Jenny in her catio.”

We love this CATio for a backyard that’s not very large. Notice the walkway from the window to the elevated outside enclosure so that the cat can come and go as she pleases. Jenny the cat is very happy to get nice breezes and be safely out of reach of other cats or other animals. Put a nice chair for yourself near the CATio and spend precious time with your cat outdoors!

CATio of the Week – from Karen in Chicago

Last week we featured a story about cats and wildlife, and how building a CATio, an enclosed patio just for a cat, can allow your cat fresh air, sunshine, flowers, and their own little garden without hunting and killing birds or bothering other wildlife. A CATio would protect your cat from being harmed by owls, coyotes and other predators – like bad people. Everyone loved it!

This week we feature another great example of a CATio and the happy cats who get to hang out in it!

Our Malcolm is always moving, always into mischief! He loves being able to go outside and enjoy the ever-changing scenery!

Karen from the Chicago area

Here are Rudy (red kitty) and Malcom (black) enjoying their deck time. We have a Cat fence, hinged at the top, all around our deck and along the side of the house. They LOVE being out there!

This CATio is particularly timely – black cats and pumpkins! And it’s really beautiful.

A thought we’d like to add is if you already have a CATio or are planning to build one be sure that the door that leads inside is locked to keep predators of the 2-footed kind from harassing your cats! You might install an alarm to the door too. Some may want a security camera out there as well.

Give your cat an outdoor CATio, save songbirds and wildlife at the same time!

We’ve all read reports that outdoor cats are deadly to wildlife – in particular song birds. Usually those reports are harsh and very anti-cat, sometimes calling for the rounding up and euthanizing of ferals or cats thought to be feral. While we do not agree with such a measure outdoor cats are indeed very much a threat to song birds, migratory birds, other wild birds and small wild animals.

One of the many dangers to outside cats is second-hand poisoning. If a bird or small rodent has eaten “rat poison” then your cat eats that animal you cat can die. It’s been well documented that the use of rat poison has wiped out entire families of owls and other wonderful birds, and other beneficial animals like skunks and opossums both of which eat a staggering amount of insects and small pretty, and without their presence we’d be in trouble. If you are tempted to use rat poison – don’t, you are causing multi species deaths, they are safer ways to keep rat populations down.

A CATio to the rescue! Last week we asked our beloved readers and customers to submit photos of their own CATios which are specially built patios or enclosures make just for cats who want to enjoy the sunshine, a cool breeze, and the great outdoors – even if its suburban!

But before you enjoy those photos we want you to read a carefully and lovingly written article from WildCare of San Rafael, CA about the CATastrophic effects of outdoor cats on wildlife and birds. The author lives with cats and loves cat deeply. Truly, it’s alarming and if you have an outdoor cat and don’t read this article and take it to heart… well, to quote an old 1960’s adage, “if you aren’t part of the solution, then you part of the problem.” Designing and implementing an outdoor CATio customized to suit your cats and your home will be a fun project, the outcome to be enjoyed by all!

Reversing the CATastrophy

by Melanie Piazza, Director of Animal Care, WildCare

(An article reprinted from the WildCare newsletter – Summer 2016)

I grew up in an animal-loving family. Our cats were always indoor-outdoor. It’s just what you did back then. Of course my family’s cats hunted, and I can recall as a child searching the yard with my little sister for bird feathers, skulls and wings – the remnants of unfortunate victims of our cats. It never occurred to us, back then, that this was unfair to wildlife, and preventable by keeping the cats indoors.

I also remember losing two cats to the traffic on the busy road behind our neighbor’s house. We would bury them in our pet and wildlife graveyard in the backyard, all of us sobbing for another beloved companion lost. Again, it never occurred to us that this was unfair to the cats, and preventable by keeping them indoors.

A New Perspective

In 1998 I started working for an animal shelter / vet clinic and wildlife rehabilitation hospital. I saw more hit-by-car, lost-a-fight-with-something now-dying-of-infected-wounds, and suffering cats, both owned and stray, than I had ever imagined. I also discovered something I had not thought about since my childhood – an endless flow of injured, maimed, orphaned wild animals caught by cats.

There are countless studies and reports attempting to quantify just how many wild animals free-roaming domestic cats kill each year. The most impressive study I have seen so far is ongoing, and being conducted by National Geographic and the University of Georgia. This study put cameras around cats’ necks to record their actions outside the home. Cat guardians who were in denial about their cat’s death count were shocked to see the truth, and scientists gathered invaluable information. You can learn about it at:

From Our Own Experience

Depending on which special interest groups fund a study, the number of killed-by-cat wildlife can vary greatly, so I will speak from what I know firsthand. At WildCare alone we treat roughly 500 wild animals a year that have been the victims of cat attacks. This number encompasses not just birds, but mammals, reptiles and amphibians as well. And these are only the animals that cat owners find alive and bring to us. Regardless of where you stand on the topic, the number of wild animals that free roaming cats kill, injure and orphan is staggering, and is putting many of our wild species at risk. Any wildlife rehabilitator can tell you how maddening and heartbreaking it is to treat or have to euthanize the never-ending flow of mangled and suffering animals that are caught by well-fed and well-loved cats year after year.

Addressing this topic puts WildCare in a challenging position. We are grateful to be available to give these animals the medical care they need and the second chance they deserve, so we are thankful for the rescuers who bring them to us. We work hard to be mindful of walking the balance of not offending cat guardians because we want everyone to feel that they can bring wildlife in need of assistance to us, and we love cats too! But as wildlife advocates we must have conversations with those whose cats have caused damage (especially repeat offenders), in the hope of changing human understanding and behaviors. I wish someone had taught me about this years earlier!

Cats and Hunting

It is obviously a natural instinct for a cat to hunt. What is not natural is that our cats are domestic animals introduced into a wild food chain. In the wild, when a local prey population, of, say, rabbits, grows large in number, the local predator population, let’s say hawks, grows as well. More hawks may move into the area, and all the wellfed hawks have more young. As the predator population continues to grow, they gradually reduce the prey population. With less food available, some hawks starve and die, some are forced to move out of the area in search of food elsewhere and their own breeding is not as successful. During this downswing in hawk numbers, rabbits have a chance to repopulate. The prey population recovers so well that eventually the predator population booms again.

This cycle is repeated over and over. Now introduce domestic cats. Cats are housed and fed by their guardians, their every need taken care of. They can live up to 20 years in the same territory. There are multiple cats in the area and more are added every year. Nothing brings cat populations down. Cats don’t need to hunt to survive, but do it for fun. Prey animal populations never have a chance to recover.

Another common argument is that wildlife should evolve to be able to avoid cats. If they do not, they “should” be taken out of the gene pool anyway. In truth, evolution is the result of
species evolving side-by-side over untold years, affecting each other in the process. Wildlife cannot evolve fast enough to respond to a domesticated species. Free-roaming cats killing wildlife is, in fact, an unfair and unnatural situation from which many species cannot recover. Another point to make about the “food chain” that is important for pet guardians to realize, is that once you allow your pet outdoors unprotected, natural or not, they have entered the food chain where not only can they hunt, but they too can be hunted.

The best news regarding the topic of free-roaming cats and wildlife is that the carnage is preventable! There are many resources online to teach you how you can slowly acclimate your free-roaming cat to an indoor life and/or how you can keep an indoor cat happy and healthy.

A Better Alternative

A lifetime of lessons later, my personal favorite compromise lets me keep both wildlife and my cat safe, and still offers my feline friend the fresh air and sunshine she loves – the CATIO! A catio can be any size, shape or configuration to fit your house or apartment and just about any budget. From something as simple as a window box to a screened-in patio area with multiple level pathways, your imagination is the limit. You can build your own or purchase prefab kits. There are numerous photos in this article of catios belonging to WildCare staff members and volunteers (including my own) and you can also find more ideas online. Visit for a list of resources.

And in a final note, I realize that some cats will not adjust to being kept indoors. They will yowl non-stop, shootingshooting outside at any chance. If this is your cat, then the best we can ask is that you do everything in your power to mitigate the damage that he or she can do.

Here are some ideas:

  • Utilize online resources that will teach you how to slowly acclimate an outdoor cat to an indoor life.
  • Do not allow cats outdoors during dawn and dusk when wildlife is most active, both for your cat’s and wildlife’s safety.
  • Harness and leash-train your cat for supervised walks.
  • Try products such as The Cat Bib and BirdsBeSafe collars, both available in WildCare’s gift shop.

Note: Bells do not work. Cats learn to walk without ringing them and fledglings who cannot fly still cannot escape, even if they hear the bell. If you see a fledgling in your yard, please keep your cat indoors for the few days this baby bird will need to learn how to fly.

“If Not This Cat, Then the Next”

“If not this cat, then the next” is a great message from an amazing (if unlikely) coalition between the Audubon Society of Portland and the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. For those who currently have an adult cat for whom all attempts at keeping indoors have failed, we encourage you to make the pledge that the NEXT cat(s) you adopt will be indoor only.

These two organizations have joined forces in an attempt to reach more people who disagree on the topic of free-roaming cats and their impact on wildlife. By bringing together both cats and wildlife lovers, they hope that more people will be open to conversations and suggestions from both sides, which is what WildCare strives for as well.

Resources for CATios – lots of great photos of CATios for you to order or to inspire your creativity

Based in Canada – they ship all over North America –

Based in Austin, Texas – – has excellent designs for delivery to the Austin area only

More CATios in upcoming newsletters! Send us yours!

Last week we asked you to send us pictures of your CATio. We heard from many innovative people and received their wonderful CATio photos – the first of which is shown in this newsletter with the others to come in a new feature called “CATio of the Week.” As we promised last week, the people who submitted their submissions before October 7th will get 4 cat toys – we won’t be able to do that again, but YOUR CATio will be seen, praised, and admired by thousands of fans and friends!

So don’t feel bad if you didn’t get a chance to send in your photo the first time around, there’s much more time do so. Send your CATio photos to to inspire our readers. We ask that you use this in the subject line so we can keep track of the photos: “My CATio” – the pictures should be at least 640×480 and included as email attachments (rather than embedded in the body of the email).

Do you professionally build CATios? We want to see them too and we’ll link to your website! Be sure to put MyCATio in the subject line.

Our first CATio of the Week comes from Pat, owner of owner of Kitten Sittin’ ( in Tampa, FL.


How to De-Skunk a Cat (or You) with Anti Icky Poo

Recently a customer wrote to ask if Anti Icky Poo would remove skunk musk from her cat’s fur. The cat probably wasn’t actually sprayed by the skunk, instead kitty probably rubbed up against a plant or bush that the skunk sprayed during a mating ritual to mark territory (sound familiar?) or to appear sexy. We at Cat Faeries adore skunks, in particular we love Skunkie who lives below ground in our front garden! And as you might expect every night we leave food and water for our gorgeous fluffy friend – did you know they are fond of cat food? Skunks are not particularly fussy eaters (cats, take note and learn from this!) however our dear Skunkie does not like rice but enjoys everything else we set out. We often see Skunkie and an outside cat sitting near each other in complete harmony. More on that below.

Since we are FOS (friends of skunks) we wanted to give our customer and you the best answer and solutions to this smelly problem.

But before we tell you how to de-skunk cat fur, dog fur, or you and you clothes let us tell you a few things about skunks. They are shy and very passive, and like cats, they are curious. They don’t seek to spray anyone and only do so when provoked or frightened – this is truly a last resort and if they fear they might be killed. They are solitary animals who would prefer peacefully keeping your garden free of small rodents, and harmful insects, worms and grub worms which might be in your soil eating away your greens and vegetables. Skunks are a healthy garden’s friend who come out to visit and hunt at dawn and dusk. If you are lucky you might see a mama skunk with babies in Spring. After the baby skunks are grown they leave their mother to strike out on their own, again, as solitary animals. Baby skunks are called kits… baby cats are called kittens… the similarities continue!

So far it seems that skunks and cats are compatible, or least they can co-exist well. We are told that skunks and outside cats will share a food bowl! We’ve observed Skunkie and a lovely pastel tortoiseshell cat sitting about 7 feet apart in the evening. Here’s a video of a cat and skunk caught on surveillance camera with infra-red.

Skunks are most active at dusk and dawn. Is it coincidence that your cat wants to eat at dusk and dawn too and run around like a crazy person?

How do you know if you are about to be “skunked?” Simultaneously the skunk’s back will be towards you and his head turned looking over his shoulder so he can see you (for good aim!) You might see red anal scent glands depending upon how light it is. With excellent aim and propulsion of up to 10 feet – BAM! – you’ve been skunked!

Here is how to de-skunk using Anti Icky Poo:

1) DO NOT PRE RINSE THE CAT! This spreads the oily skunk spray. Tomato juice will not work… you’ll have a cat that smells of tomatoes and skunk spray

2) Soak a large rag with Anti Icky Poo so that it’s very wet. Wipe down the cat (or dog) and allow to dry. Of you could take the cat’s brush which you’ve soaked in Anti Icky Poo then brush it through the fur. With either method you’ll re-apply in 2 hours. This should take care of it, if not, apply a third time. Rinse with another water soaked rag or a fresh brush to finish the treatment. Discard the rags and brushes. Please only use the unscented version as the fragrance can be irritating to skin, lungs, and eyes.

3) If it’s you who got skunked, soak your clothes in the washing machine with ½ cup of Anti Icky Poo and cold or warm water for a few hours or overnight. After you soak and rinse, wash the clothes with clothe soap and ¼ cup more of Anti Icky Poo. You could even wash your hair with Anti Icky Poo if you wish.

Here you can see a mama skunk and her adorable progeny approaching a man who stopped his bicycle to watch and video them. He’s perfectly respectful and quiet therefore there is no spraying of skunk musk proving that skunks would rather not spray. Also, aren’t their squeaks beyond cute?


Another great use for Anti Icky Poo! Removing Ring Around the Collar!

Who’s old enough to remember those catchy commercials from the 1970’s? And who of us teased co-workers, parents, teachers, and class mates for their rings around their collars? And who is plagued with ring around the collar today?

Madam Cat Faerie for one! She’s one of those unfortunate people who makes a vivid ring on her collars even minutes after putting one on and on a stone-cold day no less! The oils of the ring become one with the fabric which nothing seems to remove completely – always remaining are streaks of yellow or traces. Madam Cat Faerie is also not willing to use toxic methods to clean up anything.

Recently I bought a divine long soft cotton button down white shirt and wore it Saturday. And of course it grew quite a ring despite having exfoliated my neck to a pink glow earlier! I would never use a potentially toxic cleaning agent like bleach (which doesn’t work anyway) so the bright idea of a soak in Anti Icky Poo was worth an experiment. We’ve told you that Anti Icky Poo removes oils from clothing (found this out when I spilled olive oil on a cotton dress). Mr. Cat Faerie, a car hobbyist, does similar soaks to remove auto grease from his clothes.

How to do it: Put ½ cup of unscented Anti Icky Poo in a tub with another ½ cup of cold or cool water. Place the soiled shirt with the collar going into the soaking solution first, then allow the rest of the garment to rest on top – all of it will get a nice stain removing soak. The first 24 hours removed most of it, but not enough, so the soaking went for 32 hours. SUCCESS! Every speck of yellow was gone baby gone! The shirt went into the machine for a quick wash in Seventh Generation – Free and Clear liquid clothes soap to remove the Anti Icky Poo. After drying overnight I’ll fearlessly wear that shirt over and over!


The Rescue Dogs of 9/11: the last remaining one passed away this year. See how she and the rest of the last 12 looked in 2012.

(Update for 2016)

Loving and courageous Bretagne, the last remaining 9/11 search dog, passed away this year just before her 17th birthday. You can read about her last year and her passing at the Today Show site – Never forget: Last 9/11 Ground Zero search dog dies just shy of 17th birthday

(Update for 2015 – Sweet and brave Bretagne is now 16 and still helping kids learn to read.)

Look at those sweet gray muzzles! What cuties! And so very brave. These hero dogs helped search for people in the rubble following 9/11. In 2012 when we first posted this story there were 12.

Only one of these dogs is still alive. Bretagne, a 15 year old golden retriever, still works as a service dog helping special needs kids by listening to them read out loud. For more on Bretagne here’s an excellent article on the Today Show site – “Last known 9/11 Ground Zero search dog still lends a helping paw”. Here’s a current picture taken by her 9/11 handler and current companion, Denise Corliss.

Her she is with Denise working at the World Trade Center site in 2001.

In 2012, Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas traveled to nine states to photograph the 12 remaining dogs, then in their golden years, at their homes. She produced a book of the photographs titled “Retrieved.”

Here is the story and their photos. These are from a wonderful article written by Charles Mayfield. Unfortunately, even after much Google searching, we can’t find the original source. Below is the article that includes pictures of 2012’s 12 surviving dogs.

Wishing you a day of reflection on the lives lost, the hearts broken, but the spirit of everyone who was touched by the events on September 11, 2001 remains strong. The rescue dogs who have crossed The Rainbow Bridge are surely held in the highest esteem, and we like to imagine that they are being given lots of love and treats by those who perished on that horrible day.

Nearly 100 dogs worked at the trade center ten years ago; only 12 are left. THESE OLD WONDERFUL FACES SAY IT ALL… These are the surviving dogs that worked the trade center that are still alive but retired, they are heroes too.

Their eyes say everything you need to know about them. Just amazing creatures. True heroes of 9/11 still with us today.


Moxie, 13, from Winthrop , Massachusetts , arrived with her handler, Mark Aliberti, at the World Trade Center on the evening of September 11 and searched the site for eight days.


Tara, 16, from Ipswich, Massachusetts, arrived at the World Trade Center on the night of the 11th. The dog and her handler Lee Prentiss were there for eight


Kaiser, 12, pictured at home in Indianapolis, Indiana, was deployed to the World Trade Center on September 11 and searched tirelessly for people in the rubble.



Bretagne and his owner Denise Corliss from Cypress, Texas, arrived at the site in New York on September 17, remaining there for ten days.


Guinness, 15, from Highland, California, started work at the sitewith Sheila McKee on the morning of September 13 and was deployed at the site for 11 days.


Merlyn and his handler Matt Claussen were deployed to Ground Zero on September 24, working the night shift for five days.


Red, 11, from Annapolis, Maryland, went with Heather Roche to the Pentagon from September 16 until the 27 as part of the Bay Area Recovery Canines.



Abigail, above, was deployed on the evening of September 17, searching for 10 days while Tuff arrived in New York at 11:00 pm onthe day of attack to start working early the next day.


Handler Julie Noyes and Hoke were deployed to the World Trade Center from their home in Denver on September 24 and searched for five days.


Scout and another unknown dog lie among the rubble at Ground Zero, just two of nearly 100 search and rescue animals who helped to search for survivors.

During the chaos of the 9/11 attacks, where almost 3,000 people died, nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors. Now, ten years on, just 12 of these heroic canines survive, and they have been commemorated in a touching series of portraits entitled Retrieved.

The dogs worked tirelessly to search for anyone trapped alive in the rubble, along with countless emergency service workers and members of the public.

Traveling across nine states in the U.S. from Texas to Maryland, Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight days in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from 9/11. Their stories have now been compiled in a book, called Retrieved, which was published on the tenth anniversary of the attacks. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted Retrieved to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs. “I felt this was a turning point, especially for the dogs, who although are not forgotten, are not as prominent as the human stories involved, “explained Charlotte, who splits her time between New York and Amsterdam .” They speak to us as a different species, and animals are greatly important for our sense of empathy and to put things into perspective.”

Charles Mayfield