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It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

When the Cats Need In Right Now

Kitler and GN on a warmer day, spying on us through the kitchen window. Author photo.

It’s been a bitterly cold week here. Last weekend was warm and sunny, particularly nice for February. But it was the “warm before the storm.” By late Monday afternoon, the cold front was blowing in and there was no mistaking the fact that it’s still winter on the high plains.

Thank goodness for weather forecasters! I know people like to complain about them, but on the whole they help me prepare my outdoor animals before bad weather hits. This time, I had only my two outdoor kitties, Kitler and GN, to worry about. No horses, chickens, goats. Just a couple of semi-to-mostly-feral cats.

Cold Weather Prep

I prepared by making sure all their several shelters they like to use had nice cozy beds available. Those wool felted cat caves are favorites, even though they mostly flatten them and sleep on top instead of inside. I moved one of those to the most sheltered corner inside the cat condo so they could stay out of any wind if they chose. Recently I put one of those super luxurious orthopedic beds in their solarium. They like it a lot, either using it individually and looking like a little king on a throne, or cuddled up together for extra cozy warmth.

That’s about all I can do for them. In the past they’ve survived terrible weather by using these shelters. Before Kitler really became a fixture, and was just an occasionally-sighted nameless cat living on the fringes, he even survived a bomb cyclone somehow. He’s a tough cookie, even though he’s actually just a big sweet marshmallow.

So as the evening fell and the cold howled in, I worried about them but had to assure myself they knew how to survive these conditions. Then, just as I was reaching to turn out the bedroom light and go to bed myself, I heard a weird scratching noise coming from the window.

What to my wondering eyes did appear? Kitler’s desperate little face! That window is directly above the solarium. To look into it from outside, a cat has to take a roundabout route over the top of the condo, balance along a metal edging where the top of the solarium glass leans against the wall of the house, and finally stand up on that tiny ledge to put a kitty head over the window sill, hanging onto the frame of the storm window somehow.

This is their solarium and condo showing how Kitler had to plan his route to reach the bedroom window for his SOS contact. Author photo.

Meow! I could see his mouth open, even though I couldn’t hear his meow over the wind and through the glass. Meow! A paw appeared, tapping and scratching on the glass. Meow!

The message was obvious: It’s miserable out here! Do something for us!

The Difficulty With Adding More Cats

Our cat arrangements are thus: Kwnn is the sole “house” cat. She lives indoors with us and never goes outside. This is because she hates all other cats and will not suffer them to exist in the same space she is occupying.

Cat sleeping on floor next to heater.
Kwnn not caring about cold weather. Author photo.

Flicka is a once-feral cat who arrived on our doorstep starved and pregnant. She is super-smart and knows that safety and regular food beats independence any day of the week. Over the years, she has become an indoor/outdoor and now primarily indoor cat who gets supervised outings when the weather is nice. Otherwise, she lives in our mudroom which is now set up as a happy cat room. She also gets to visit in the rest of the house with us a couple times a day when we lock Kwnn in the bedroom. Flicka is perfectly happy with this arrangement, and Kwnn generously tolerates it.

Flicka knows when she’s got it good. Author photo.

Then there are the two current outdoor cats, Kitler and GN. They never come inside. Kitler, although previously feral, learned the joys of being petted and loved, so he at least can be handled without a problem. GN is still extremely cautious. I can occasionally pet him during our feeding routine, but otherwise he keeps a safe distance from either of us human-types.

Back to Kitler’s Frantic Request

So the question was, how could we get those two in out of the cold? Only with their cooperation is the answer. It’s not like I would be able to go out in the night, pick them up, and force them indoors.

First we had to move poor Flicka into one of the bathrooms along with a litter box, her cat cave, food, water, and cat grass. Not the worst, but not nearly as comfortable as her mudroom.

Then the challenge was to convince Kitler and GN to come inside! With the interior door to the house safely shut, we opened the back door and called into the night. Kitler appeared immediately. A bowl of food set inside and the frigid wind blowing outside was enough persuasion for him to slink through the door. One captured! My husband picked him up and held him comfortingly so he wouldn’t escape back out into the night.

I held the door open and sweet-talked GN, showing him the bowl of food enticingly. He dodged and feinted, approached and retreated while I stood there freezing in my pajamas. To my astonishment, after only a few minutes he crept slowly through the door, intent on getting a bite of food out of the bowl. A nose, one foot, two feet… as soon as that tail crossed the threshold, I shut the door!

A few moments of feline panic ensued, but they were both in and safe from the potentially deadly weather outside. I’m not sure it’s what Kitler actually had in mind when he messaged me through the bedroom window (more likely he meant “do something about this terrible weather!”), but it sure gave me a sense of relief. We shut out the light and left them to their new arrangement.

So that’s how our week has played out. Outside, life-threatening subzero temperatures, snow, wind. Inside, four kitties living in their own little fiefdoms. Flicka gets more time outside of her bathroom to make up for having to give up her mudroom to Kitler and GN. Kwnn has to be locked up in the bedroom a bit more often (she mostly just sleeps in there anyhow). And Kitler and GN are adjusting to the wonders of heated beds and safety, albeit in a much more restricted world than they’re used to. Disappointingly, GN still hasn’t learned how to be friendly. He’s a tough nut to crack (but I’m not giving up).

Two cats sleeping in a cat bed together.
GN and Kitler enjoying the indoor life. Author photo.

They’ll go back outside tomorrow, when the nighttime temperatures finally stay reasonable for a kitty used to living outdoors. Flicka will get to return to her own mudroom. I’ll get access to my bathroom back, and a litter-free bathroom floor! We’ll all be happy. And thanks to smart kitty Kitler, no one got frostbite or perished in the cold.




Cat photos, cat artwork, cat stories

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Sara Pehrsson

Sara Pehrsson

Hermit. Instructional designer. Caretaker for my animal family. And writer.

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