Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Getting in a flap

Designing a beeline for the felines is proving to be more of a challenge than anticipated.

Monty could barely contain his joy when Rose installed the cat ramp.

We’ve had a week of glorious weather since the last blog entry, and Dean has taken full advantage of it. Each day the construction of our house’s floor becomes more excitingly crisscrossed with beams of timber – if only I could get home in the light to fully appreciate it!

While the serious work of building of our house happily proceeds, I’ll diverge briefly to talk about a small design consideration which we’re still wrestling with. After our article appeared in Your Weekend, last Saturday, a question I have often been asked is about the nature of the ramp leading to our window in the background of the main photograph.
Was it our fire escape route? Was it a ‘lay by’ for passing chickens to deposit their eggs right on our breakfast table?
The ramp is of course, for our cats. Ed, Juno and Monty can access the container whenever they feel like it, and the constantly open window has the added benefit of ensuring that our gas-powered fridge doesn’t asphyxiate us in our sleep. Additionally, condensation is one of the main problems of living in a shipping container, so a constant supply of fresh (sometimes very fresh –it was minus 4 degrees this morning) helps.
We know that not many cats get their own ramps, but they probably aren’t forced to live in a tiny container either, so it really is the least we can do.

After finishing the renovations on our previous home we had one chance to get the placement of the cat door right – and it was an epic ‘fail’. We dismissed placing a cat flap on the south side of the house (a Wairarapa southerly is not to be invited into your home) and the prevailing northerly wind wasn’t to be given the chance, either. The relatively gust-free East side would have been ideal, but it also happened to be the front of the house. With re-sale very much in mind, we didn’t feel defacing our beautiful front door would do much in the way of adding value. So we put a hole in the west side of the house, close to the kitchen (food bowls) and very unobtrusive from both inside and out.
Our self-congratulating came to an abrupt end as the nights became cooler. West faced the Tararua range, and a chilly evocation of the snowy peaks would blow straight out of the cat door, through the dining room and into the living room. On cold nights we were often reduced to moving the sofas together and using cushions to plug the remaining gap.
It was a miserable lapse of judgement, and one which we’re determined not to repeat.

And so Rose and I are looking at every option. The premium side of the new house, east, is now occupied by the bathroom and guest bedroom, so no joy there. South and north are out and always shall be, especially as our north side is mostly glass and we are now in a higher wind zone than before. We’re still looking at possibilities, but hopefully this may serve as another useful lesson for others designing and building a home. Pets are part of your family too, so should be considered along with everyone else.

Rose and Juno explore potential locations for the cat door.

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