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.


Celebrate Japan’s Annual “Cat Day”

Yesterday February 22, 2016 the Japanese celebrated the 27th annual Cat Day, an informal holiday dedicated to cats, an animal they adore and are obsessed with! As much as we Americans love our cats the Japanese might be even more loopy for them than we are! We don’t have a cat holiday in the US, but they have one in Japan! Did you know that Japan has one of the highest number of cats per capita in the world? We’ve told you about the cat cafes in Japan, and about Cat Island Aoshima where thousands of well fed and cared for cats roam and the feline residents outnumber the human residents. People worldwide plan entire vacations around visiting the island to experience so many cats at one time and just hang out with them. And then there is the maneki-neko, the beckoning cat, a common Japanese talisman that is believed to bring good luck.

No wonder the nation that loves cats so much has a special holiday dedicated to them.

Cat Day in Japan is known alternatively as “Nyan Nyan Nyan Day”. “Nyan” is the Japanese equivalent of “meow”, the noise made by cats, and “ni” is the Japanese word for number two. February 22 (written 22/2) is pronounced “ni ni ni”, which apparently resembles “nyan nyan nyan” and is likely why they chose February 22 to become a cat holiday.

We did some research and found mention of the holiday in 1987, Japan Celebrates Annual Cat Day although Cat Day could have begun much earlier among cat fanciers. Throughout Japan special events are held at shops which cater to cats and their needs, cat cafes, and cat fancier clubs. And since the Japanese could have been responsible for the first cat video they are posting thousands of photos of their cats online to celebrate Cat Day. We found some of the best… including cat shaped donuts!

Aoshima Island cats…

From Happy “Nyan Nyan Nyan” Day on the Google Asia Pacific Blog – “First, we turn to Street View for a glimpse of the Station Master of Kichigahara Station in Okayama prefecture. It’s not uncommon in Japan for cats to be appointed as honorary Station Masters. Here our Street View camera caught Kotora (“small tiger”) taking a quick nap after a fierce morning of making sure the trains ran on time.”

At Tashirojima Island, another cat island in the Sendai Bay in Tohoku, tourists can stay in cat-themed cottages designed by famous manga artist Machiko Satonaka.

You can have cat-shaped doughnuts.


What is a “Foster Failure?” Might you be such a failure? (hee hee!)

“Foster Failure” sure sounds like someone who fostered a cat and didn’t do a good job of it, doesn’t it! January 2016 is all about celebrating the shelter cats which our customers and friends have adopted – every day we post a photo and a story to Facebook. Early in the month we noticed that a few people called themselves a foster failure. We thought we’d heard everything, but not this so we had to ask! It’s not that they did a bad job, in fact, they did a great job! They just fell in love and kept the cat! What was to have been “temporary” housing and care turned into a forever home.


Sick Abandoned Kitten Becomes Big Handsome Fluff Ball!

See what happens to a kitten that was injured, abandoned and a mess… see what good food and love and care can do? The formerly skinny and sickly kitten is now a big fluff ball!

You can read more here…

His Instagram page is here…

Silas was found by a Florida family by the side of the road. He was sick, starving and homeless. They nursed him back to health. Look at the handsome boy he became because of their love and care!


Gus the Trucking Cat

Dear Cat Faeries customers and friends,

Thanksgiving just past and we are now in what some call “the season of giving.” Winter is a great time to reflect upon who we are, where we are, what we’ve accomplished, and to celebrate our lives and the lives and stories of others. Let us give you the story of Gary, an 18 wheel trucker and his cat Gus. Their dear friend LaVonna is the feline/human matchmaker crucial to this story. This is what LaVonna has to tell us about highway adventures of Gus and Gary.

From LaVonna…

It all began when my own gray cat disappeared one Summer. She was gone for so long that I thought she was gone for good. Gary, my friend, a truck driver, accompanied me to the shelter several times looking for “Stormy” but we never found her there. On one of our trips we saw a Stormy-look-alike named Gustav. He was a young beautiful Russian Blue cat (and still is as you can see) so I decided to adopt Gus (also called Gus Gus) for my own to replace my beloved Stormy.

After a few weeks, guess who returned? Stormy! But it was not to be a feline match made in Heaven between she and Gus. The two of them collided and would not become friends. So, Gary, being the kind-hearted animal lover he is, decided to take Gus with him on his journeys in his 18-wheeler. Gus rides on the dashboard of the truck watching the scenery whiz by, and keeping a sharp feline eye on the road. I think he has been in most of the 48 states and Canada.

Gary contacted me just this Fall to tell me that last year Gus disappeared at a truck stop. Gary had to continue on his journey as he was “under a load”, but worried the entire time, sick at the thought that Gus could become a coyote’s dinner. But when Gary returned after a couple of weeks, other drivers told him they had seen a gray cat around. Gary searched for Gus and when he found dear Gus he was one very flea and tick infested feline. It didn’t matter! Gus Gus was back in his arms and on the dashboard once again. Gary also told me that Gus does NOT normally like to go to the groomers but I think this particular visit to the groomer was an exception!

Gary could talk your arm off telling you tales about Gus Gus and all the many adventures they have had together. Gary has had this trucking buddy now for over 12 years. Gus Gus has become a bit of a “Folk Hero” across the highways.

Cat Faeries is urging Gary and LaVonna to start a blog with the road trips of Gary and Gus Gus! If they do, you dear readers, will be the first to know! If you wish to encourage them you may write to us and we’ll forward your message. Send it to and put Gary and Gus in the subject line. Happy Trails to all and wishes for a peaceful holiday season!