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El Missiano Del Gato

The title that my partner gave my feral/stray cat feeding station is El Missiano Del Gato. (If you speak Spanish and know of a more accurate title, please let me know. I don’t think my fella knew Spanish very well.) A number of people have asked about this structure so I figure it’s worth telling you about.

El Missiano Del Gato (view from the street)

Shortly after buying my house, I noticed lots of cats hanging around my area. There are thick woods behind my house that are clearly home to a feral cat population. I’m also certain that people dump their cats in the area because many of the cats who show up are shy, cautious, and starving, but certainly not feral. I quickly established a routine for providing them with shelter, food, and fresh water. I also trap them and get them spayed & neutered. I then re-release the feral cats & find new homes for the stray cats. (Thanks to Feline Friends and a network of caring cat lovers in this area.)

It didn’t take long for neighbor’s dogs and raccoons to notice food & water sitting outside, so over the course of the first year in my house, I converted one of the outbuildings on the previous owners built on my property. (I think they built it to be a kids playhouse.) Many of the features I read about online and it took a while to figure out how to implement the tips on this particular structure.

Some of the main features of El Missiano are:

  • When the human door is closed, the only way to get in or out is by jumping up through the windows. To help cats reach the windows, I placed tree stumps (and for a while, a bench) near the windows. Cats hop up on a tree stump, them up to the window platform.
  • The windows are up too high for raccoons and dogs to reach since they can’t jump. And each level the cats must jump to (stumps, bench, window platform) is too far for raccoons to reach when they stand on their hind legs, so they can’t climb up through the windows.
  • I put clear plastic “curtains” in the windows to keep the rain from blowing in. When it’s really windy, the rain still gets in. I’m working on another design to keep the rain & wind out.
  • Inside are several shelves providing lateral space for perching cats. (You know how much cats like being up high!) I’ve placed fleece blankets and beds in some spots so the cats can curl up and stay warm & dry away from predators. (Blankets and beds are washed regularly so they stay mold & mildew free.)
  • There are perches at window height both inside and out. Some cats like to lounge on these sills and survey the land, again in a spot where they’re out of the rain & safe from predators. A handy pal of mine made cool plexiglas awnings to keep rain off the window perches.
  • There is always fresh water inside. I change the water daily. When temps are low and water freezes, I refresh the water twice a day to keep it from being ice for too long.
  • I regularly provide food. I don’t make it available all the time, because I don’t want feral cats to become dependent on this food source. When I notice a new stray cat hanging around, I establish a daily routine. This gets him used to me and makes it easier for me to capture him and take him to the vet.
  • I plan to insulate the building this summer so it’ll be even warmer in the winter.
  • For fun, I painted a bright mosaic-looking scene on the exterior.

Tree stump steps on right side of building

Maybe it’s time to admit that I am, indeed, a cat-lady? I readily admit that I bend over backwards to help animals in need. And I know I take it further than most people. But I am not a crazy cat hoarder lady. How could I possibly be one, I only have three* cats.

If you’re interested in providing even basic feeding stations or shelters for feral and stray cats, visit the pages below. There are shelter designs that use things you probably already have around the house. Feel free to email or call me for additional ideas and/or support.

* Well, you see, there are only THREE cats who live indoors with me and get regular vet care. I mean, technically the feral and stray cats aren’t “mine”. Sure, I have named most of them and take them to the vet for sterilization and for emergencies. But they aren’t “my” cats. Nope. I only have 3 cats.

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