The Chronicles of Mingo

Catio, Or, What Goes Out Eventually Comes In

Kevin-the-contractor finished the catio yesterday, perhaps because I met him on the driveway wringing my hands and wailing. Always effective. Well, it’s 99% done (nothing is ever DONE DONE in home improvement land). Everything is wired, the screen doors are on and latched, the roof panels are attached. And the hole in the house for the cat door was cut and the door installed. What’s left is some cosmetic stuff around the cat door and Kevin’s mysterious desire to do something or other with some miscellaneous boards. I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Pre-Mingo’s miraculous resurrection, I’d been planning a catio but I’d planned to paint the house and refinish the deck first. That can’t be done until the summer, so when the catio became urgent Kevin designed and built it to be modular and easy to take down and put back up. He asked me, suspiciously, how frequently I planned to do this. Probably because in reality he will be the one doing it. I assured him once, for the painting. The next time will probably be after I am dead, so once the deck is refinished he can weld it to the foundation for all I care.

The screen doors are very nice for human access to the front deck and to the side yard but I’m suspicious about those latches. Mingo doesn’t have opposable thumbs, or he’d be Master of the Universe, but I can see the latches wearing a bit over time, a strong wind, or human carelessness. I’m going to get sliding bolts. There’s no reason to make things easy for Ming.

Ming has already mastered the coming-in bit. He should have the going-out bit down soon. The cat door has a magnetic catch but since he’s learned to shove it in one direction he should be able to shove it in the other. Right now I have to open it for him. Maybe he simply likes servants. You think?

Squeaky is confused by the whole thing. He’s been going out on the deck for several years but now there’s all this new stuff and wire and doors and he can’t get down into the yard. You can see the cat door boggles his mind; he watched Ming go through it as if he were a rabbit vanishing into a hat. I’ll get a volunteer and we’ll pass him back and forth a few times. That might help.

Sophie ventured out today when I held the deck door open. She carefully smelled her way around and retreated back into the house. It was even more encouraging because she and Mingo were out there at the same time without hissing or chasing. Time. This will all take time. I can’t do the pass-the-cat routine with Sophie since I can’t pick her up. She’ll sit in my lap, she sleeps next to me, she enjoys being petted as long as I follow the rules, but No Picking Up Cat. So I’m hoping she’ll see Ming or Squeaky go through and get the idea. Otherwise I’m going to be holding the deck door open a lot.

I’m posting pictures of the completed catio below. Obviously, it needs furniture: at least one climbing post, some boxes and ramps, god knows what. Maybe I’ll get Mingo a trapeze.

Mary Holland

Mary Holland writes alternative-world fantasy for grown-ups. Her books include Matcher Rules, The Bone Road, and The Dog of Pel. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with three cats and an ever-changing assortment of wildlife.