Filed under: Architecture, Art, Humor, Mark Twain | Tags: architecture, art, cats, Greystoke, humor, jim downey, Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson, Wikipedia
“A home without a cat — and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat — may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?”
― Mark Twain,
So, a couple weeks ago I had an idea … which, if you know me or have followed this blog for a while, can sometimes get me, well, not exactly into trouble, but can lead to things not entirely intended. Anyway, the idea was to build a climbing tree for our cats, which might take advantage of the 12′ ceilings we have in our historic home (ours is the next-to-last in that article).
Here’s the (probably) final result:
Now, for those who may be curious about the process of making this cat tree, there’s more below.
We have a huge slump of an ancient catalpa out in front of the house, near the road. Here it is:
It’s been a favorite of photographers and children for generations, and overall is doing pretty well. But one large part of it died a couple of years ago, and we’ve delayed removing it. That part is the pair of major mostly horizontal limbs which come out from the tree towards the viewer in that image.
After some discussion, my wife and I decided that the lower limb could serve as the basic structure for our cat tree. So I cut it off, and then trimmed it and started removing the bark, as seen here:
It’s a little hard to tell scale in that pic, but that limb is about 12′ from base to either tip, and about 12′ from tip to tip.
After removing most of the bark, we somehow managed to get the thing in through the front door and then into our living room. Without breaking any windows. Or bones. This was trickier than it might sound. And did require a bit of additional editing with a chainsaw on some of the various extensions. Of the tree, I mean.
So, we got it into approximate position, then braced it with a couple of chairs. Here it is, with Greystoke (our younger cat — he’s not quite two) investigating:
Next, we got it mounted to the wall securely. This required some stacked-lumber spacers in order to make sure that the branches cleared the windows and curtains safely. The way I mounted it was to mount the lumber to the wall, then I added heavy hook brackets to the lumber, and cinched the tree down with rope. That way, if it was ever necessary, we could detach the tree fairly easily. Here it is mounted, with a 12″ cardboard concrete tube I intended to use for part of the ‘furniture’:
Almost as soon as it was secured, Greystoke was wanting to explore:
I started adding elements to the tree: a couple of simple platforms, and a horizontal bridge which would support a carpeted tube. These (and all the subsequent elements) were mounted using a combination of metal shelf brackets and rope.
At this point I also started wrapping cotton rope around the branches, to make them more cat-claw friendly/safe:
The branch on the left was at enough of an angle to let the cats climb it easily. On the right, I decided to put in steps similar to a ladder, but spiraling as they went up to make it easier for the cats to climb:
Next I settled on a final design for the tube:
Then it was time to carpet it, as well as add carpet to the ladder steps and the platforms:
Covering the steps and platforms just required a rectangle of carpet the correct size and some double-sided carpet tape. To do the tube was a PITA using a combination of carpet tape, construction adhesive, and hot glue. I recommend checking YouTube for instructions. And gloves. Definitely you want gloves.
Here’s the semi-finished tree, before I added a final platform on the upper right, or some ‘interactive’ toys/elements:
The (probably) finished final result again:
Complete with a suspended ‘bird’, a dangling rope, and a couple of simple wood spinners. Note that Greystoke, instead of being on the tree, is snoozing in his favorite chair below. Typical.
But he has already started climbing on it, playing with things, looking out the windows, climbing *into* the windows …
Silly cat. But that’s why we built it.
So, all of the wood and most of the hardware used in making the tree was stuff which I already had leftover/recovered from other projects. The tree as shown in the final version (which may get tweaked a bit over time as we see how the cats use it) has about 800′ of rope on it, and that was the biggest expense. All together, had I had to buy both rope and all the wood & hardware, the out of pocket costs would have been about $200 (I actually spent about half that). And it took me a total of about 30 hours labor, in 2-3 hour sessions over the last couple of weeks.
Fun project. I was a little concerned that wrapping it with so much rope would detract from it feeling like a ‘tree’, but it has maintained that organic feeling, even with the other elements I added. I’m pretty happy with the final product.
Filed under: Humor, Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, cats, entirely too cute, Greystoke, humor, jim downey, kitten, Shakespeare, writing
A drama in three acts.
SCENE 1: A bedspread, The Queen Mel in her comfort. A quiet, rainy summer’s day. Enter the young challenger.
SCENE 1: A bedspread, The Queen Mel defending her position.
SCENE 1: A bedspread, the young Lord Greystoke surveying his new demesne.
Filed under: Ballistics, Book Conservation, Connections, Guns, Humor, Writing stuff | Tags: 1776, ballistics, BBTI, blogging, Boberg, book conservation, bookbinding, cats, entirely too cute, humor, Independence Day, jim downey, kitten, predictions, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, writing
Remember this little fellow?
That was three weeks ago. Well, here he was about an hour ago, watching me from a rag bag under my workbench in the bindery:
Kinda hard to tell from those pics, but he’s grown and is starting to take on more “cat” characteristics, though he is still *very* much a kitten. And my shins have the scratches to prove it.
* * *
Been busy: Ammo test results in the Boberg XR45-S
Prep & clean-up took most of a full week. But good to get that test sequence done.
* * *
“Spirit of 1776”? It’s a little early to be invoking Independence Day stuff, isn’t it?
Yeah, I know. There’s more than a month before we get to that.
But that’s the number of this blog post, in the running tally which WordPress keeps. Who woulda thunk it?
Filed under: Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, cats, Greystoke, jim downey, kitten, Tarzan, trust
He doesn’t even flinch a whisker when I pet him while he sleeps in my lap like that.
Trust almost beyond what I can even glimpse an understanding of. So innocent. So pure.
Welcome, Lord Greystoke.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Health, Humor, Wales | Tags: blogging, cats, health, humor, jim downey, St. Cybi's Well, Wales
(See postscript at the bottom.)
She’s named after Sir Edmund, because when she was young she always wanted to climb things. She’s no longer a youngster, and just turned 14.
For the most part, she’s been in good health, though in the last year she started losing her eyesight, and just recently she’s had some minor strokes. The results of this are that she’ll just get confused for a while, sometimes tend to walk in small tight circles, and occasionally throw up. But our vet says that she’s not in any real pain, and as long as she continues to bounce back from those episodes, there’s no reason why we can’t keep her and love her with a little extra care. We’re used to caring for people and pets which need a little additional attention, so it’s no big deal.
This is Mel:
As you can see, she also likes climbing on things. But she’s named ‘Melyn’ for the color of her eyes. It’s Welsh. Yeah, as you might gather from St Cybi’s Well, we enjoy Wales, and my wife has been learning the language for a decade or more. Mel’s about 4 years old, and a bit more of a rascal. The two cats get along tolerably well.
Our bed is on top of a stack of drawers. One of Mel’s favorite games is to pull open those drawers. And in particular, the one which is right where my foot needs to go when I swing my leg out of bed. This is especially fun when it’s the middle of the night and I’m just getting up to go to have a pee (ah, the joys of middle age … ). I’ve cracked the side of my bare ankle on the side of that drawer too many times to count. But even *I* will learn eventually, so I’ve gotten into the habit of swinging my leg out even further, and then sweeping it in slowly so as to push the drawer closed if it has been left open by dear Mel.
Sometime last night, Hil seems to have had another minor stroke. And after getting down from the bed, threw up. Fortunately, she did so on a small throw rug (hmmm … ). It woke my wife up, so she dealt with it, and then took Hil in to where the litter box is, thence to the water bowl in the bathroom. Since Hil was a little confused, and my wife wanted to get back to sleep rather than sit and watch the cat while she decided whether or not to have some water, she just left Hil there. This is fairly normal — give Hil a reference point, and she’ll manage to sort out where she wants to go eventually.
Usually, by the time I get up in the morning (I get up first), Hilary has made her way downstairs and is politely waiting for breakfast. Mel is more … demanding. And serves as a very effective wake-up clock if I try and sleep in. As the saying goes, there’s no snooze button on a hungry cat. So this morning we went through the usual routine. I got up, swung my leg over, closed the drawer, and put on some clothes. My wife told me that Hillary had had an episode earlier, but that she had dealt with it. Mel noisily demanded breakfast.
So I went downstairs, Mel close at heel the whole way. Got the catfood out, took it to where their feed bowls are. Mel dug in, but Hil wasn’t to be seen. I checked around, didn’t see her downstairs, but figured that since she had been sick in the night, she might not be hungry and was probably curled up somewhere in the upstairs, would come down when she felt like it. No biggie — I could check on her later if she didn’t appear.
I got coffee, and went about my wake-up routine. Normally this includes getting in a walk, but today we have heavy thunderstorms and I am not THAT dedicated to getting in my exercise. Same for my wife, who thought she’d just catch a little extra sleep after her disrupted night.
After an hour or so of coffee and reading online, including a lot of attention from Mel but no sign of Hil, I figured I’d pop upstairs, see if I could find Hillary, and see how she was doing and whether she wanted some food yet.
I went upstairs. My wife was waking up, doing a little reading in bed. She said she hadn’t seen Hil yet this morning. I checked around upstairs in all her usual haunts. No luck.
Yeah, you guessed it. I thought to check the drawer below our bed, which I had closed without looking earlier. There she was, happily snoozing in amongst the clothing.
I brought her downstairs, got her some food. Mel watched, yellow eyes glinting. And I think I detected a slight smile on her face, as well.
A postscript: Hillary had another and much larger stroke about 12 hours after I posted this. She passed away peacefully in the early hours of the next morning.
I mentioned the other day we had a new family member. Here are a couple of informal pix of her:
Her name is Melyn, or “Mel” for short. It’s Welsh (naturally), and refers to her striking yellow eyes (which aren’t all that noticeable in these snapshots). She’s about 2.5 years old and probably about 14 pounds – will know for sure when the vet comes to check her out next week.
And she seems to be taking to us pretty well. Even THE DOG doesn’t weird her out too much.