Winterizing the cat shelter

After working on the sun room door frame and the bird feeder, it was time to work on the cat house.

The first thing I needed to do, though, was adjust the counterweight.

I sacrificed another crate to hold the block, then retied it. I had doubled up the rope before and this time, rather than cut it, I folded it into thirds. There shouldn’t be a lot of friction from the block, but I figure the more cords there are, the less likely they’ll end up breaking and falling apart. Of course, the weight being supported by the crates will help prevent that, too.

I then added a couple of bricks into the openings of the block to add more weight before I tried opening the roof up.

It’s a Potato Beetle!

Nostrildamus was in there, too, but he ran off when I opened it up.

Potato Beetle didn’t move, the entire time I was working on things!

With the roof fully open, the brick is resting on the ground. This is exactly what I was hoping for!

I then screwed in the terrarium heater, then used the aluminum lid of a take out container as a heat shield, with washers as spacers to keep it from being directly against the wood.

I then plugged it in and let it heat up, sticking my hand under it every now and then. I’m happy to say that the aluminum didn’t even get warm in the entire time I was testing it, though I could certainly feel the heat off the ceramic bulb.

Which was a good time to install the smoke detector.

At the very least, if something goes wrong and a fire starts, any cats inside will be frightened off long before we hear the alarm from inside the house.

Once I was satisfied that the heat shield was adequate, the safety cage was put back. With the heater being slightly wider than a light bulb, I used washers as spacers to make sure nothing was touching it. I ended up using 5 washers at each screw. It’s a good thing that was enough, because any more, and there wouldn’t have been enough of the screw sticking out to secure the cage!

I also put in the timer, set to turn on/off at dusk/dawn. The sensor is facing the largest window, which is facing East. This will likely mean it will turn on before actual dusk but, in the winter especially, that will be just fine.

Then it was time to set up the waterproof case for the electrical cords. I still intend to pick up a longer extension cord, so that it can be tucked under the roof and out of the snow, but at least we can start using it now.

Once everything was done, the counterweight was as much a help with closing the roof as opening it. The hard part is near the end. There is a notch cut out that has to line up with the roof of the entry that was added on later. Without the counterweight, and two people lifting, the person on the window side of the entry has enough to grip, but the person holding the other side of the roof has nothing to grip without risking smashed fingers – and at that point, the roof drops pretty hard! With the counterweight, not only can I easily open it myself but, as I close it, I can do so gently enough to line up the notch to the entry roof, and let it close gently instead of dropping it.

The only thing left in here will be to plug in the heated water bowl, and that won’t be needed for a few more weeks, at least.

Tonight, the outside cats will have their first night with a heated shelter! It isn’t much; the terrarium heater may get very hot to the touch, but that’s a large space for a small heater. This is okay, though, as being too warm would have a whole different set of problems!

It should be interesting to see how many cats I will find taking advantage of the new warmth, in the morning!

The Re-Farmer

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