One of our main focuses for the cats right now is, "how do we make it better?".
To be honest, I don't think that focus will ever disappear, even as we move onto prioritising other areas for development. The cats all enjoy living with us and their space which we work on every day for them. So how can one 'thing' make all the difference?
Well, we could construct the most amazing enclosure filled with everything we can possibly imagine for them as part of their enrichment but, just like humans, they'll get bored.
Pictured above is a solitary log, one which we were going to use for something - and probably still will. It was lying in the pile of the 'do-something-for-the cats-with-this-stuff-pile' at the side of the garage. This log was placed up on the high-level section for the cats when I was in cleaning yesterday.
Cats get used to their environment very quickly. You can watch them looking around, taking in everything within proximity. My cats got comfortable with their surroundings and then someone came along and placed a LOG (what could this thing be!?) on the high-level section!? (What the!?)
They loved it! They were all right up there sniffing, touching, rubbing, some were cautiously approaching and the serval smacked it to make sure it was dead! A log. One solitary log.
I made a difference to those cats yesterday because I placed one item that was a 'hold on that wasn't here a moment ago' large intruder into that carefully mapped environment which they had come to know. This brings stimulation. It enriches their lives as they can explore and demostrate that enquisitive nature that they hold.
So my point is, sometimes the enclosures do not need to be 'perfect' or 'perfectly equipped with every possible kind of enrichment'. It is more important to continually work with their nature, give them something new, put food inside places that they can't easily access (this is why we love having a pallet in the enclosures to throw chicks inbetween!), put in a cardboard box with something sprayed onto it so they can explore it. New is the key.
TIP: Keep a note pad nearby so that you can jot ideas down that you get for your cats. Sometimes they come at crazy moments - like doing the laundry!
Subscribe to our Newsletter to be kept up to date with posts on our blog or watch our YouTube channel for the videos soon to be transferred over - including new videos of our serval inside a bag of hay (she's so funny) and the stinky cardboard box test.
We must admit - the cold weather is harbouring the development of our ground inside the enclosures. The constant wet weather here in Scotland means we are putting off digging and planting until things dry out a bit!
We live on the side of a mountain so the water tends to flow underneath our ground.
We have our #DWAlicence renewal visit in the next few weeks so we are looking forward to showing our Vet how things have progressed since his visit last year.
Currently, we are trying to source some safe plants and trees which we can put inside our enclosures. If anyone has any suggestions on what else we can fit inside our new enclosures then we welcome any ideas - and the cats do too!
I had an interesting discussion with a fellow big cat enthusiast and we were discussing the enrichment of the cats lives. He made a very valid point which is, "Large spaces do not always equal enriched spaces and likewise small spaces do not mean lack of enrichment".
We are perfectionists in what we do and strive to give our cats both - hence the constant extensions.
In our DWA Enclosures, so far, we have:
Well, what's the objective here?
I think the main thing we are always asking is, "what can we do better", "how can we make this more fun/enjoyable/exciting?". Ideally, our cats (not just DWA) should be able to run, explore, investigate, pounce, hide, surprise, relax and have the cat equivalent of "me-time" if they want it.
Our other cats are currently in some boarding style pens which we bought as a temporary solution when we moved home in July. We had an issue because of the space that they liked to defecate wherever on the ground, so we have had to remove the stones and plan to replace the ground with slabs in the mean time but we don't like concrete for cats. For our smaller cats, such as F6 Savannahs and Abysinnians we are deciding what size of run to build as an outdoor-zone where they can have shots each in the area. They have a small outdoor area each at the moment but we want the above to apply to the smaller cats too.
With male cats, they tend to spray everywhere to ensure that a. the ladies know he is ready and available, b. to ensure that male cats know that it is HIS area, not theirs and c. because male cats are stinky boys! ....so the males will likely be kept confined to their own quarters.
We will keep the boarding pens to ensure that pregnant queens (although we don't have them very often) are able to be alone and have their own space.
We have decided however, that the grounds which we have will never be big enough in order for us to give the cats the 100m2 per cat which we want to give them, so we will be looking in the next few years to upgrade to more land in a different area. At present we would be looking at a minimum area of enclosures equal to 6,500sqft/ 600m2/ 0.15 acres. This way we can give them zoo-size outdoor enclosures where they can feel more free to roam in long grass or come down to the water pond - or relax on a high perch in some trees. We still have to communicate with the local zoos and suppliers to see how we can possibly 'enclose' such a large area inclusive of the roof.
We are doing well through our online store and are thankful to those of you who invest in us to provide beautiful gifts for your cats.
In the summer of 2016 I will be travelling to Africa to spend some time on a conservation project with Cheetahs, Servals and Caracals in a much wilder situation to develop my knowledge on all aspects of Husbandry, Enrichment, Entertainment and Lifestyle. More on that later.
#100m2percatproject #wildcats #savannahbreeding #caracat breeding #caracal #serval #bigspacesforbigcats #beautifulbreeding #giveussomeideas #africacheetahssummer2016 #stylisticat
Image courtesy of Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre
We are currently undergoing a massive expansion of our cat runs and this involves installing metal enclosures throughout the grounds at our home in Perth, Scotland, UK.
We can never get anything done without these two carrying on with each other and enjoying the new "human things" to play with. They are so funny to watch and really to tease each other!
As far as we are aware, we are the only cattery with a DWA Licence in the UK, which has the stipulation to have full metal enclosures inclusive of the roof. This rule comes with a great expense attached to it but as our local council cover a wide range of open countryside, inclusive of shooting estates, they are not willing to take any chances with regards to possible escapees!
We do have a lot of the ground works to finish - hence the terrible looking stones on the ground throughout but once we get everything installed we'll be softening the ground with bark, decking, slabs, grass and heavily planting the enclosures with some safe greenery.
I do hope do build a large hill with a tunnel running through it as the DWA's love to prey on each other and pounce into the air!
The next part of our metal enclosures are due to arrive in April so we should have a fair size of ground for them all to run around in and play catch me if you can!
In other news - the F1's have finally started to use their cat wheel! It's taken around 6 months but finally they are enjoying that along with the new open spaces.
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All about Stylisticat, written by Kayleigh McIntosh-Lowrie