Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cat isolation...

Cat isolation...  One of the challenges with putting all our cats (well, all but one) into a single-room cattery is that we no longer had any natural way to isolate cats that are being treated, have a behavior problem, etc.  In our Jamul home, we had several rooms that could be pressed into service as a cat dormitory – great for the cats, not so convenient for the humans.  In our new home we resolved to stop doing this, so that we can have nice things in most of the rooms and they will not be destroyed by a misbehaving cat.  The single-room (it's a big room!) cattery was the answer.  But then how can we isolate a cat if need be?

The simple answer is to use one of our large plastic cat carriers.  Those are quite inconvenient, though, as this isn't the purpose they were designed for.  Furthermore, those carriers have lots of nooks and crannies that trap ... stuff ... which is exactly what you don't want in an isolation setup.  Veterinarians have this same problem, in spades (since basically every patient needs to be isolated).  We looked at how they solved it.  The answer was stainless steel living quarters, designed to be easy to clean, sturdy and durable, and configured in a manner convenient to both human and feline.  We bought the setup in the photo (with Debbie happily showing it off!), a Shor-Line model that has two cages, one atop the other, mounted on wheels.  It's an expensive system, but it was recommended to us by a veterinarian we trust, and it's the sort of thing you can depend on buying just once.  It's designed for the kind of use a vet's office would give it; our use will be much lighter.

The unit arrived yesterday in a 7-foot high stack of 9 cardboard boxes on a pallet.  Two of the boxes were large enough to be one of the cages; the others were all like giant pizza boxes.  This morning we resolved to unpack and install this thing.  There were more challenges than we expected :)

First challenge: how do we get this thing into the cattery?  The most obvious route would require traversing three 30" doors, and the assemblies in the large boxes were just over 30" wide.  I thought we were in trouble at that point, as the cages are mostly welded construction.  After inspecting them more closely, though, I realized I could take a couple inches off one dimension by removing things like the door hinges and latches, and a brace.  I removed all them, and we made it through the doors with about 1/4" to spare.  Whew!

Once we had all the parts in the cattery, we faced our second challenge: no instructions of any kind.  There were a bunch of mysterious looking parts, especially some flat stainless steel brackets shaped like an L or a T.  After puzzling over it for 15 minutes or so, I figured out what all the parts were for.  I failed miserably, though, at figuring out how to put it together.  It turns out that at two separate junctures the order of assembly matters – and my first attempt was wrong on both of them.  That meant I partially put it together, took it apart, partially put it together, took it apart, and finally put it together correctly.

The final challenge involved five stainless steel panels.  Each of these had been bent from laser-cut stainless steel sheet.  The plastic “shield” that protects the metal next to the cuts from laser and molten/gaseous steel problems was bonded to the steel with an adhesive that you could pull free.  The trouble was that pulling all that plastic off was quite hard work.  We spent more time removing those #$(@#)_#@$ sheets of plastic than we did on everything else put together!

Finally, though, we got the thing all assembled, rolled it over to its home in the cattery, and put its first resident in place.  Kama is being isolated until he learns to behave nicely to the other cats.

Overall we're quite happy with the unit.  It's very nicely made, sturdy as the proverbial tank, and the ergonomics for both human and feline are great.  We sure would like to have had assembly instructions (especially to get the order of assembly correct!).  And that damned plastic film really needs to be removed by the manufacturer.  If I ever receive anything using that stuff again, I think I'll refuse shipment...

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