In an emergency move, I had no time to relocate / board / handle my rescued cats.
My new home was not ready yet, so the only option I saw was to get an old camper and put the cats in there for the time being.
The camper’s air conditioning works, so a certified electrician wired it to a secondary breaker box on the new property. This assured the cats didn’t bake in a heat-index of 100 during this hot Nashville Summer.
These cats were rescues and in many cases would be euthanized (put to sleep, put down, or other words for killing them) so I decided to do my best to give them the best life I could. So while we wait for our new home to be completed, they are in this camper. But the cat camper has several problems that I had to work hard to fix. I became a fairly regular customer of Home Depot and Harbor Freight Tools.
It took a bit of work every day to make this camper work for the cats. I fix computers, make websites and do internet marketing for a living running my own company. I am not a handyman but decided to step up to the challenge. The camper cost $600 delivered. For $600 some work was definitely involved to get the camper safe for the cats.
I’ve had to make several modifications in the camper using materials from Home Depot & Harbor Freight Tools. These were all done as temporary measures, not permanent renovations. They were done on a very slim strict budget. I would have used materials other than oak and plywood if I were doing permanent renovations but these only need be functional for a month at the longest and serve as emergency measures only.
These changes included:
- Solidifying the bedroom bed frame. The frame needed a center slat since I do not have a mattress. I had this cut at Home Depot, inserted it, and then put memory foam on the lower layer, and a series of comforters and pillows on the top.
- Creating a new floor panel at the entrance. I accomplished this by using a tightly wedged but accurately measured piece of plywood.
- Creating cabinet doors using plywood cut-to-size, hinges, and hook & eye latches. This was due to the cats going into the cabinets and getting lost wandering through openings in the camper cabinets that led all over the place. The doors needed to be secured very inexpensively and cat-proofed. They could open a door and actually escape the camper through small openings I was unaware of if I didn’t do this. 3 of them got lost for days until I figured out which doors they had snuck through.
- Replacing wood seat holders. When I went to look for the lost cats who wandered into the cabinets, I pulled the cushions off the seats and discovered wood that holds the seat cushions in place. As I lifted the panels, they disintegrated. I measured the actual open areas and replaced the disintegrated wood with new panels and plywood covers.
- Reinforcing walls and counters. There was some water damage due to leaks on the roof, so I cut plywood to position in front of areas severely damaged by the leaking rain water.
- Tightened window locks. The cats were pushing against the windows attempting to escape so I secured some new window latches and made sure all the windows were closed.
- Blocking rooftop / ceiling leaks. There were several roof top / ceiling leaks, so I covered the entire camper in a series of bungeed tarps. This was the most difficult part because I do not own a ladder so it took several hours to get it completely covered. It involved tossing the tarps on the roof and hoping they opened up enough to pull down each side of the camper. At some points I pulled my car up to the side and front of the camper, stepped up on the car to reach the roof. Some of my tosses missed so I had to make several attempts to make sure the tarp would reach both sides of the camper so bungees could be attached. I did a lot of these in the middle of the night, using my car’s headlights as my guiding source of illumination.
Among the rescues… (click the small pictures to see larger ones)
Mr. Siamese: He was believed dumped at a local drug store in an existing colony of feral cats. He was declawed by his previous owners, so being dumped and declawed in an existing colony of cats, unable to defend himself, was not a great thing. Mr. Siamese still has some behavior problems from being abandoned and being declawed. The drug store he was found at is the location of many abandonments.
Mr. Siamese is very trusting and loving. I still don’t know to this day why he may have been dumped. I went door-to-door in the area he was found and posted him all over the place but no one claimed to have lost this boy.
He has an interesting trait, he will fall asleep in any position including on his back with his paws pointing up towards the ceiling.
Buddy: I was trying to trap a specific cat to have him revaccinated and got ‘Buddy’ instead. He turned out to be very friendly and loving. He has a slight permanent injury to his right eye and is still a bit under-weight. Buddy would most likely be euthanized otherwise given his condition. Buddy is extremely loving. His name used to be ‘Not Scooter’ because someone took him home thinking he was their lost cat ‘Scooter’ but he was returned because he was not Scooter. He was so loving so I named him ‘Buddy’.
Not Moe: I was trying to trap another specific at and got ‘Not Moe’. He is named ‘Not Moe’ because we thought he was a lost cat named ‘Moe’. It was the middle of winter and we were about to have severe winter storm so I kept him inside instead of releasing him after trapping and fixing him. He ended up staying inside and slowly warmed to me as his ‘person’. He is still very skittish and it took a very long time for him to even sit on my lap. He would have been euthanized due to his unfriendliness. I spent months with him and only after 3 months did he warm up and let me hold him.
Tabby and the Draggins’: I used to feed an orange female tabby cat. I would come home from the gym and just sit with Tabby as I fed her. This went on for months. Eventually I took Tabby to the vet and discovered she was nursing. I quickly returned her and in a few weeks Tabby brought her young kittens to be fed by me. Each one was trapped, fixed, and I took the time to socialize the entire litter. I adopted one out but he was returned after a month so I decided to try to keep the whole litter. Some of them, despite my best efforts, would have been euthanized by animal control because they are not social and would not make good pets. They would be considered ‘unadoptable’. Tabby herself is very selective in letting me hold her.
Tell me what you think of the cat-camper!