Letting Cats Outside Safely

I just have to plug this thing for a moment. . .

I wish we’d discovered it years ago. We have two cats with litter box issues. Bob – who has a broken spine, so he can’t really help his problem, but it still causes messes for us to deal with, and Sheeba – who has some misfiring brain wires or something. She doesn’t act like any other cat I’ve met, and she likes to pee all over the house.

We’ve arranged our lives around the problems of these cats. Litter boxes everywhere that are cleaned out all the time. We don’t have a sofa or soft chairs anyplace because Bob would ruin them. All bedroom doors stay shut at all times to prevent furry intruders doing their thing on our beds.

We’ve seen cat behaviorists, we keep the laboratories in business with how often we send in urine samples, an acupuncturist (for Bob) etc. But I don’t believe an elimination issue should equal a death sentence, and so we have lived with it (and cleaned up after it) – for years.

Our other problem was that we don’t live in a safe area for the cats to go outside. We live in a townhouse with a parking lot out front, and another one behind it. These cats have been indoor cats their whole lives, I don’t think they’d stand a chance out there. I know the neighborhood cats pretty well (better than I know our neighbors, my husband would say) and few of them stay around for long. It just isn’t a cat-friendly environment.

After we lost Magic, we also kinda lost the heart to keep dealing with these other two troublemakers. I’m sad to admit it, but we loved Magic, and tolerated the others. Well, I love Bob too – and my husband tolerates him for my sake.

So we made the decision to start letting them outside, and I was torn up about it. I couldn’t emotionally handle them anymore either, but was frightened for them. So I began to research if there were any safe ways to teach older cats some street smarts, with the goal of making a safer transition to being outdoor cats.

I found the Cat Fence-In System.

I’ve worked with animals for about 13 years now, longer if you count my earlier SPCA volunteer time, and I’d never heard of such a thing. It’s great!! It’s a netting system that goes around the top of your fence, and keeps the cats from being able to climb out. They stay safely in the yard. They still have the elements to deal with (but for now we’re only putting them out on nice days) but no cars, no dogs, no cat-hating people who mean them harm. They get to sleep in the grass, chase bugs, and lay in the sun without dying.

It also keeps other cats out of the yard too – for anyone who has a problem with that. We’ve had our system up for about a month now, and it really works.

I have my house back.

Bob loves playing outside during the day. Sheeba doesn’t love it, but, like I said before, I’m sure she has mental problems. No matter what she thinks, it’s better than being locked in the bathroom the rest of her life, and that’s her other option at this point.

I just had to share, because I would have loved to have known about this earlier.


Not Made in China

So I was at Target over the weekend looking for a hard baby toy that my daughter could chew on. My first born wasn’t much of a chewer, even when she was teething, but the new baby’s reason for being seems to be to get everything possible into her mouth. Like so many, I’m hesitant to buy something from China and learn next week that it isn’t safe, so I read the packaging for all the baby chew toys they had. Every single one was made in China. Every single one.

Now I’m on a mission. For some reason, the fact that I couldn’t find something not made in China has made it that much more important to me to do so. I’m happy to say that I have success finding some great toys made in America and Europe, and I want to share.

Now obviously – I make baby and kid toys, and I’m in America. My baby loves her blocks and her I-spy security blanket – she studies it and chomps away at it. I’m a big fan of simple, stimulating, home-made toys, but I can’t make everything I want. So this is where the search comes in.

1. Etsy.com
This is always the first place I shop. I’m a part of the Etsykids street team, and if you just enter “Etsykids” into the search box you’ll find a ton of great handmade kids stuff. So if you’re looking for blocks, you can enter “blocks etyskids”. This will help a lot because of the way the Etsy search function works, if you were to enter ‘blocks’ by itself, you end up with a lot of ‘block prints’ and other non-kid items. Using the Etsykids search will make sure you only get kid related results. There is one, non-etsykids shop I want to mention because of his cool toys: Stump Pond Woodworks

2. I found this cool list of Websites that sell mass-produced baby toys that are not made in China, if that’s what you’re looking for:
80% of toys are made in China, but not these!

I’m sure there are more resources out there – feel free to share any you’ve found in the comments section. Together we can avoid buying from China.

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