Working on the cat house

Today, the ceramic terrarium heaters we ordered came in, so when we had the chance, my daughter and I opened up the cat house to put it in.

For some reason, I thought the light was mounted on the frame, not the roof! This is a waterproof light fixture of the sort that’s meant to be around pools. My brother had large dogs, and these made sure they couldn’t bang into the fixture and cause problems.

When we opened it up, I found it had an LED light in it. I was sure my brother had said it was a 100W incandescent bulb, that could add some warmth to the interior. There would be no warmth from this! But that’s okay, because we now have this!

It is ever so slightly wider than a light bulb. We can put the cage of the fixture back on it, but would have to add a spacer for about a quarter inch, so the metal cage won’t touch the heater.

While my daughter was fussing with the cover and putting in the heater, I did some clean up inside. The straw is covered with a large, heavy crocheted blanket – and the cats pooped on it. After getting that out, I decided there was just too much of flax straw in there for my comfort, so I took most of it out, pausing only to help my daughter set up the extension cord to test the heater.

After removing most of the straw, we also cleaned the windows, inside and out. They were looking pretty cloudy! 😀

Then my daughter spotted smoke.


Just a little puff.

She saw it again, several times, but as hard as I looked, I just couldn’t see it.

However, we also noticed that this thing was a lot hotter than expected! This is designed for reptile terrariums. I know reptiles like their heat, but not this much! With the heater being so close to the wood of the roof, this was definitely a concern.

So, we took it off – once it was cool enough for me to touch it with my gloved hands. That thing retains heat a long time, too!

For now, there is nothing there, and the cords are put away. My daughter lent me a lamp that I could use to test the heater and keep an eye on it while I worked on the computer.

Oddly, it doesn’t seem to get as hot inside, as it did outside. There is much less heat from the sides, while I could hold my hand a couple of inches from the flat surface for about 10 seconds before it got too uncomfortable. The base of the lamp is metal, and after it had been going for a while, I touched the base, and it was just a bit warm. I don’t know why it was so much hotter when we first tested it out.

Also, no sign of smoke.

With the way the fixture is oriented, the heat would be directed at the back wall of the cat house. I am thinking it might be better to orient it so the heat would be directed downwards, instead. There is a LOT more space under there, than between the heater and the back wall. Especially after having removed most of the straw, which is once again covered and weighed down by the blanket.

This is something that is intended to be left on overnight, so we really want to make sure it is safe.

Meanwhile there is something that I notice whenever we open up the cat house roof. With two people lifting, I can hear and feel how it is stressing the roof, as it twists and flexes. If I try to lift it by myself, I can fell that flexing so much, I stopped trying. I’m afraid of breaking something!

Because the roof is so heavy, my brother designed it so he could add a counter weight to make it easier to lift. He never added one, though.

Today, I did.

I dug up a cinder block and, with the crate to support its weight, tied it to the support, which runs the entire length of the roof.

Of course, I had to remove the crate and test it out!

It works quite well. I was able to lift the roof easily myself, and only when I first started to lift, did I feel that twisting that concerned me.

It could actually use a bit more weight, though, but it would be a simple matter to stick a couple of bricks into the openings or something.

The crate will stay under the block to support its weight, and we can just pop it out when we need to lift the roof.

Oh, that reminds me. Our plans to replace the skid under the cat house will not come to fruition. I found a steel pipe and tried to see if it would work as a lever by trying to shift the cat house on the skid.

Not only did it not move, but the pipe bent! The wood at the bottom edge, which is starting to rot a bit, was also crushed where the pipe was. The old skid is just going to have to stay.

The extension cord we have now is juuuuuussstt long enough to reach the cord on the cat house. I will be getting hold of a longer one, so that there is some slack, as soon as possible. We have also ordered a cord protector case – they aren’t available locally – to protect them when they get buried in snow!

Once we are set up to leave it plugged in all the time, I will be plugging in the heated water bowl in the second outlet inside the cat house. It has a long enough cord for the bowl to be just outside the opening. We’re expected to warm up again over the next week, but it won’t be much longer before the water will start freezing – and staying frozen!

I had really hoped we could use the ceramic heater in the cat house tonight. Ah, well. It’ll get done, soon enough! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

6 thoughts on “Working on the cat house

  1. That’s kind of what I was worried about in my reply a week or so ago. Terrarium heaters DO get really hot, but reptiles have no way to regulate / generate their own body heat so they need that. MAYBE if you put it on a slab of stone mounted to the wood with a piece of insulation underneath it…

    Liked by 1 person

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