It’s been unusually cold here, south of Graceland. I now realize Elvis was singing about how cold he was when he sang “Blue Christmas.”
We’ve been here since 2006, and in years past we’ve had a few snow-days or ice-days in January or February. However we’ve had both already and Christmas, as of this writing, is still 15 days off.
With the onset of winter, my first priority is the animals. Not just my cats, but also the critters that live in the creek and trees behind my house. Old Yeller dog food is a staple for my raccoons and possums, along with food donations from friends like day-old bread, cookies, peanuts, and peanut butter sandwiches. No, I don’t put bananas in with the PB.
I buy a large bag of nuts for the squirrels to enjoy. One year I watched a squirrel deliberate over a large walnut. He tried to bite it, but it was thick-shelled and huge for his mouth. He worked on it for at least 10 minutes. Finally, with clear disgust, he pitched it aside in favor of something smaller. I now make sure to crack the larger nuts. I also keep a bag of birdseed in my car to scatter in parking lots around town. If you’ve seen a pile of birdseed on the ground when you pull into Kroger…you know I’ve been there.
Wal-Mart carries cheap blankets. I load up with enough to give my outdoor cats a fresh blanket all their own, free from last-year’s stray smells. Although I wash formerly used blankets, I know the cats can still smell the other cat that used it. This year I have Tab Hunter, a handsome tabby who showed up this fall. He’s yet to be neutered; however he’s rooming with Jesse the Wonder Cat. Jesse isn’t happy about sharing his tent; however I’ve set up both cats with their own beds and heat lamps. Their only face-to-face time comes while one is eating and the other enters the tent. After yowling and posturing, they settle down to eat, and then slide into bed.
We purchased two large tarps from Lowes and hung them from the porch rafters using rope through the eyeholes in the tarp. The length is long enough for me to place an old table on the excess length, and that is what I put Jesse’s house on. Cats prefer to get high up off the ground, if at all possible. I draped an old fabric-lined plastic tablecloth over his house, to keep dampness off, and I lined the house with old cushions. I put an old pillow around the inside back, and covered that with a blanket. With the heat lamp several inches away, not to close as to roast him, he’s very snuggly.
Tab’s bed will most likely change. I want to get him inside a cat house, but for now he’s sleeping on a cushioned chair, with a blanket hanging to deflect a direct breeze. He’s lying on a mat designed to warm under his body heat. He has another blanket he’s laying on and of course, his heat lamp. So far he seems very comfortable.
I have two other cat beds under Jesse’s table. Gidget, Jesse’s daughter, has been sleeping inside my laundry room at night. However, for days when she’s being stubborn, I want to be sure she has a safe place to sleep.
Black cats are notoriously smart. She “gets it” that if she comes inside at night, she will have a warm cup bed, food, and most important--central heat to warm her fuzzy toes!