A long time ago I had this idea, and then I completely forgot about it. And then something happened, probably we got very crowded with cats, and I remembered it. The idea was to enclose the back balcony with a pet enclosure so the cats could safely use it, using something very secure and see through like metal fencing. If we had an enclosure on the balcony, I thought, we could leave the upstairs back sliding glass door open, and the cats could enjoy some fresh air, a more stimulating view of nature, and more space all around to boot. So last weekend we set about to make it happen.
At first we tried adverstising on Anglo Info Cyprus for professional fencing. After two weeks, that brought out only one man for an estimate. That didn't go well. As it became clearer and clearer he was more worried about our not being able to use the balcony anymore to hang our laundry to dry, and that he was the victim of an old world Cypriot view of animals, I had to come right out and ask him, because I am getting a little smarter than I used to be,
"Do you like animals?"
"Me?" he answered, "I have dogs."
"Do they go inside your house?" I asked.
"They are hunting dogs." he replied
"Oh, do you like to hunt?"
Well he just about did back flips, "YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSS! - " he exclaimed, and then caught himself too late, realizing we might not be fans of hunting.
Hmm. So I figured he was not the best person for our particular job, knowing how hunting dogs are treated here. I humored him for the rest of his estimate, which was mostly a lecture on what would "be better", and told myself, "Only if we are absolutely desperate will we have this man do the work!" It just didn't make sense to me that he could possibly understand what we wanted, or where we were coming from.
And then our friend, Ron, who has done a lot of building at his own house for his and his wife's Anne's pets - 4 cats, a rabbit, and a dog - stepped up like a hero to lend us a hand.
So that is what we did last weekend. We started building a pet enclosure. The beauty of it is we can take it with us when we leave, because it comes apart very simply.
It is hot here right now, so I have to hand it to Nik and Ron. When the sun hit the balcony they were sweating like kefalotyri cheese in a green house.
When I saw at first that it didn't fill the whole length of the balcony, I had them make some changes,and that made it a little wonky, so if you see wonky, that's my doing.
We need something like this because we don't have an open door policy for cats here, for three reasons. Firstly, we have handicapped cats that simply cannot go outdoors. Secondly, we live on the Indiannapolis 500 race track for Cypriots, and we don't want our cats to get hit by a car. And, thirdly, an outdoor pet cat's life expectancy is less than 5 years, while an indoor cat can live 12-20 years. (BTW, a feral or street cat's average life expectancy is 2 years, although some say 3.)
We hope we will finish it this weekend. We are really excited to introduce the cats to it. We think it is going to make them very happy. We will let you know how it works out!
PS You can see the cats enjoying their balcony pet enclosure here.