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Management of the Home Cattery

 

The largest issue facing those managing the home cattery is space.  We all have a limited amount of it.  How best to use that space is always a great question. 

Another issue is the management of disease.  With multiple cats in close proximity, it becomes crucial to keep on top of risk management in terms of disease.  Also reproduction becomes a paramount concern.  How, when, to whom, etc. are all questions that weigh heavy on the cattery manager.

Then, how long to keep cats in the breeding program, when to pull them, when and where to place them.  These tough decisions will be addressed.  And finally a resource listing for the Home Cattery operator and some information about runny stools and the REAL causes behind them.

 

The TIBCS Home Cattery Committee has put together some very great information on managing the home cattery and we reproduce this information here for your use. 

 

 

Building Inside Queening Pens

 
Much of your time will be spent caring for your girls and maintaining them and their litters.  So having facilities that are pleasant for you as well as for them and their offspring is critical.  They should be large enough on one level for your queen to have a litter box, a queening box, and food and water.  And enough room for her to move around with ease.  our personal preference is that our queens have at least 16 square feet on each level.  The bottom level will contain the items listed above.  By having two levels you can cover the bottom level so that the queen will be comfortable with her privacy.  As her litter grows, she can escape them for some alone time on the upper level but return to them at any time she wants. 

As the litter becomes even older, then will have both levels to stretch their legs and play.  There are as many different ways of building a queen pen as their imaginative people to do it.  We will just share some ways we have chosen to use and links to the ideas of others.

 

This cage idea was from our friends Alan and Sharon Fischer.  All of their queens have such facilities.  This is made out of 2x2's for the frame.  Plastic coated wire mesh from Home Depot was used as the cover for the wood frame.  We made flooring of particle board covered with linoleum.  It is VERY sturdy and will probably serve us well for quite a few years.  It took quite a while to build due to painting and drying time.  This pen is 4x4 on two levels or 32 square feet of space.  This is Raffia's cage.  We cover the bottom level when she has young babies.  But eventually she and the baby now climb all over it.  We keep food and water on both levels but the litter box is just on the bottom level as is her queening bed.

 

 

    

 
The above cages were built out of Wire Exercise Pens designed for dogs.  They have linoleum as a flooring which protects carpet or other floor.  They utilize plastic coated wire "closet shelves" cut to size from Home Depot with a linoleum covering for the top floor.  They go together VERY quickly and can be taken apart and stored if need be.  We utilized a plastic half inch mesh fencing from the garden department of Home Depot (they love us there).  The wire gauge of the exercise pens without the mesh was a little large for a very young kitten.  This covering on the bottom level works great.  By the time the kittens make it up the ramp to the second floor, they are large enough that they can't fit through the wire.  We also used the Closet shelves as ramps.  We covered them with indoor outdoor carpet and zip ties to hold them in place.  The entire cage can be put together in a couple of hours with zip ties.  If you make any mistakes, it is easy to cut the ties and correct your problem and then continue. 

We use a cover for the top layer just before the babies are ready to go to their new homes.  We also found that Clorox wipes make quick work of spills, litter box errors, etc..  They keep things nice and tidy and the kittens clean.

 

 

This cage has not had the plastic mesh added to the bottom layer as of yet.  (another project we need to get to)  In the interim, we have used cardboard to block the bottom layer so that young babies do not escape.  Again, covering the cage so mommies feel very secure is critical when the litter is very young.  Otherwise, we see them hauling the babies up and down the ramp, or all around trying to find a suitable quiet private place to get comfortable.

 

 

 

These two cages are on the same design idea as the two above.  Except that we have more room in this converted bedroom and so made the cages 4x4x4 in one case (on the right) and 4x4x8 in the other case (the one on the left).  The one on the left was made by putting two dog kennels on top of one another and so has 4 levels.  We even put a cat tree in the middle of it.  This works great to raise a litter, but also slightly older kittens that need a bit more room.  Or the larger litter.  Momma will be covered in the bottom level while the litter is neonatal.  After two weeks, we will begin leaving the cover off for brief periods and as the kittens begin adventuring around their "area". 

 
The cage next to the tall cage is overflow.  It is used when we need to isolate someone or need more room for babies in a large litter.  It could be used for two queens next to each other.  BUT we would only do this in an emergency.  We do not like to make queens feel intruded upon by another queen or people.  This is asking for disaster or a queen who abandons her litter.

 

 

   

This example was NOT ours.  I WISH we had so much space.  It is from 7th Heaven Orientals.  But illustrates just how you can use a variety of materials for your cages.  Here they have used the plastic coated wire closet shelves as the entire structure of their cages.  They will cut them to size and with the plastic coating are easy to clean.  Just a hint that we find out.  To make a door, get two closet shelves that are designed to have clothes hung from them.  When turned on their side with the "lip" together in the middle of the door, they make great handles.  You can also "clip" them together with a variety of available clips from again... HOME DEPOT.  As you can see here, they have used an epoxy staining for the concrete floors.  Very durable and easy to clean. 

 

 

This is yet another example of what you can do if you have room and a little imagination.  Here a frame was made of PVC piping and covered with canvas (you could use tarpaulin or any other product.  They had an area they wanted to utilize and figured out a way to cordon it off so they could utilize it.  Wood flooring can work well for such situations.  It may NOT be suitable for the spraying queen or stud.

 

Outdoor or Stud Enclosures

 

 

As was mentioned above, there are as many ways to construct outside facilities as there are people to do it.  First, consider the space you have available.  Consider temperature requirements for your particular location.  Will they need heating in the winter or cooling in the summer?  Then consider yourself and how much time you have to keep such an area clean, warm or cool and dry.  Will you be home all day to monitor temperature?  Or do you work outside the home and will have to rely on your facilities to maintain a constant temperature while you are gone? 

First, we will consider a variety of construction options.  Then we will discuss the advantages and drawbacks.

This is a facility of SimplySimes and is a nice example of runs attached to a cattery building.  They are framed in wood and covered with wire mesh.  Doors are bread trays welded with hinges and latches.  The flooring is cement which will last forever and with drains built it is pretty easy to hose off and clean.  But the wood gets wet with such hosings so make sure you use treated wood.  Also consider placing such a setup so that you maximize shade and sun for your best advantage.

 

This is another facility (sorry we forgot whose this is).  It maximizes use and cleaning at night by providing lighting.  It also has a wood frame and beamed ceiling with tiled roofing.  Wire mesh is used to cover the wood.  Shelving is used to place bedding boxes and litter boxes above any inclement weather. 

Notice that they have used storage tubs with holes cut in the end for bedding boxes and litter boxes.  These are inexpensive and long lasting options for your cats.  Plastic can be bleached with each litter change and therefore reduce the spread of disease.  This type of structure is wonderful if you have the room, money and/or knowledge and capacity to do this yourself.

Notice that the builder though ahead to make a path that can be used in inclement weather to get to the facility for maintenance.  This type of construction is expensive and permanent.  So consider if your options include the ability to do this type of facility. Also notice that this facility has fans for use during hotter weather.  Consider if a fan will be sufficient on the hottest of days in your area.  Also, how you will accommodate colder climates if that is where you reside.
 

 

  

 
This is a wonderful facility if you have this type of room.  Notice the use of natural logs to provide enrichment to the occupants.  Also short logs as climbing posts.  There is also a "mow strip" edge.  This will allow for providing grass to the occupants, but the ability to get the mower in and keep the grass maintained. 

This design is put up against a building and so does not utilize any protection for the elements for the outdoor portion.  This design may or may not work for you in your situation.  You may need to make some of the walls solid or provide a solid roof depending on your location and weather.

Again, this facility is pretty permanent.  The building portion definitely is.  Also, construction knowledge is utilized and hiring or pouring concrete is as well.  This facility works the best for moderate climates where outdoor weather is not a primary concern.

 

 

 
This is another example of an outdoor run attached to a cattery building.  In this example they have utilized a prefab "log cabin".  They have purchased square metal kennel panels and attached them to the front of this building.  This eliminates much of the hard labor of construction.  It also allows the owners not to be required to know construction principles.  Again, this construction except for the kennel panels on the front is permanent.  Also, in this example it will require some work to keep the grass mowed in the area given there is no mow strip under the kennel panel walls.  You might want to consider this if you have the ability to make this all permanent.  This building will also allow for use of an A/C or heating system for total climate control.

For another example of this type of construction, see Canie Brooks and Wildgold Bengals step by step construction ideas.

 

 

 
This facility has the luxury of a large area available to be utilized for cattery construction.  These are stud pens.  They have the abiliity to have pens apart from each other and cement or cement block flooring.  These pens are also under a larger structure for protection from weather.  They can be free standing or attached to a building. 

Ideally, these areas would have more ramps and more enrichment.  It would be nice to have chairs or benches to sit with the cats when visiting.  Use of the dog "IGLOO" houses work well for felines also.  In a stud pen, you will need to consider that your males urine may etch the wire in the sides of the cages and watch for that.  They will need to be replace periodically.  Also, some climbing limbs would be a nice addition to this area.

 

Here is some more information on building and utilizing cages and runs for your cattery setup.  If you can weld, you can REALLY have fun building facilities for your felines.

Thanks to Tejas Cats for putting the following information together and allowing us to have it here!

 
 

Reproductive information in the cat.

 
 
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