Friday, June 2, 2017


If you like your cats and you like wildlife, do them both a favor and keep your cats inside.  Cats live longer, healthier lives as indoor cats, and wildlife and your neighbor’s vegetable beds benefit from not having your cats roaming the neighborhood.  Study after study demonstrates not only the adverse effect that house cats have on wildlife (from song birds to the endangered Florida panther), but how far your seemingly lazy, well-fed little friend actually travels.  Also, study after study finds how much shorter cats lives are when they are allowed to roam. 

Cats are curious and like to look outside, and watch birds, people, leaves, whatever, and we try to provide them with ways of doing just that.  One minor thing I did was add a window to one of our storm doors, so they can look out when the door is closed.  
Chester is dissatisfied with just a window.
They use the window a lot, but they also would like to spend more time enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the garden.  
The window looks both ways and is effective for not just cats, but chickens and Chihuahuas.
Winston gets supervised time in the garden (the only one of our cats that does), but it is seldom and I know he likes to feel the wind in his hair, so that lead to my recent project- a Catio (“cat” + “patio” = awesome).  
From left to right, Winston, Chester and Gary investigating their new Catio.
I first learned about a Catio a few years ago from an announcement for a Catio Tour in Portland.  I was intrigued.  The fifth annual tour is scheduled for September 9.

This was a fun project and one that I could get all the materials from Home ReSource (using reused and repurposed materials is one of my passions).  This Catio is made from 3 wood frame window screens and these screens are common at Home ReSource.

These window screens sell for about $3 each and they are a common byproduct of people upgrading their windows in Missoula.  They were really common on the vast amount of homes built here between the 1910’s and the 50’s.  It is nice to find a use for a common thing like these (and hollow core doors, but that is another issue).  

The rest of the Catio is constructed from 2x stock reclaimed from homes), plywood from shipping crates, reused lag bolts, screws, and the brackets (above) are re-purposed fence posts.   

I also got laminate flooring, roofing felt, flashing, drip edge, roofing nails, wood screws, and carpet remnants for the Catio furniture (the scratching post), 

In all this project cost about $35.

It is not totally complete, I plan to add a shelf (a second floor) for the cats to lounge, but I wanted to see how that enjoy and use the current space. 

One of the nice things about this project is that it is portable.  Ultimately, we plan to install French doors in place of this window.  When we get around to that project (or “if”), we can move this to another window.  

the Catio installed from our bedroom window
This will allow our cats some time to spend outside but protects them, and protects our wildlife visitors from them. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

A new use for this old blog; a reference

So I haven’t really been keeping up with this blog and frankly I am not sure of its fate. Since I haven’t been updating it regularly like I once did, this blog has turned into more of a static website, and I think that is fine. I think the value of this blog lies in is utility as reference and as a resource to cover topics in depth, but after eight (!) or so years, I find many of the issues with native plants and wildlife gardening keep coming up, so rather than reposting an old article or updating a subject I have written before,  I am thinking about turning these posts into a book (though I have been threatening that for a while). 

When I started this blog in 2009, social media was really (at least to me) in its infancy.  Now, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a more useful tool for updates and news.  As a result, I post garden news and pictures on these platforms, ignoring this blog.  But I do think the in depth articles I have posted are a compliment to a nice Instagram photo.  Having said that, some of the most commonly requested topics are the following:
In general, "why native plants are important" is always a common topic, and the subject of the whole blog!

I still post unique or timely things, like our Cat of the Year or SponCon projects, but day to day social media seems to suit the general needs of this one time blogger!

So, please follow me on Instagram or Facebook!

Friday, January 29, 2016

For Immediate release: Winston named 2015 Cat of the Year

For Immediate release:

Winston named 2015 Cat of the Year

MISSOULA, Mont. January 28, 2016---- In a stunning landslide victory, Winston has been named the 2015 Cat of the Year.  This result was especially surprising to David, who reports voting Alex “6 or 7 times."

“I thought it would have been closer,” a crushed David said.  “It was as though voters overlooked diminutive and unassuming Alex at the polls. That is the story of his life".

David went on, despondently, to explain, “We had some friends over the other night and when they saw Alex, they asked if we had a new cat.  I said no that is Alex, he has been living here since 2007.  I guess they never noticed him before. They quickly returned to yelling Kitty, Kitty, Kitty at Winston”. 

Alex faced an uphill climb especially after all the media attention Winston had received over the past year.  Winston was widely viewed as the inevitable candidate.  Winston has his own Instagram page, a devoted fan base and support from the establishment, including Miles and the chickens, as well as the political machine of the the non-partisan Missoula City Council (though not unanimous, 11-1).  Alex tried to start a grassroots campaign, and was dismissive of support from the Persians, Turkish Angoras, Cats of the Internet and others.  Ultimately that may have proved to be his undoing.  People liked Alex’s message, and his quirky attitude, but they were concerned about his age, and his advancing arthritis, and worried about the possibility of him being an effective leader.   Chester backed him, but he is a political outsider.  Actually, we have no idea who Chester really is, or where he is from.  In the end, the media “blackout” of Alex was ultimately his demise.  Fox News calculated that Winston received 63% of media coverage, Miles (viewed by most pundits as non-competitive) 18%, the chickens 9%, Chester (like the chickens, ineligible) 8%, and Alex 2%.  The mountain lion rug received less than 0.05% (though that might have just been Cryss Anderson).  With so little media attention it is impressive the race was as close as it was. Alex garnered 34% of the vote.  There were no write-in, third party candidates.

Despite that the polls closed on January 12, the official transaction of the award has not taken place.  Release of the results and award have been delayed pending approval by the Republican-dominated Public Service Commission (not that is it the law, apparently their approval isn’t required for anything, really), and for Marilyn to return from her Vietnam trip.  Marilyn’s steady-handed input was required because David was ready to award Cat of the Year to Alex. 


For more information see: 

Winston_is_a_cat  (Instagram)