COVID-19 down time inspired this Summerland man to create his own Catabitat business | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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COVID-19 down time inspired this Summerland man to create his own Catabitat business

Michael Lockhart's cat bridge.
Image Credit: Gena Lock
July 20, 2020 - 7:20 AM

With time on his hands because of a forced layoff due to COVID-19, Summerland’s Michael Lockhart decided to get to work on a cat yard project that had been sitting on a backburner for too long.

He created a “catio” (cat patio) last fall when he and his partner, got their first of three rescue cats.

“A lot of the time, the easiest way to create a habit is to basically close in the patio,” Lockhart said. “You’re creating an outdoor space for cats that limits them from having unlimited access to the outdoors but they still get some fresh air, hopefully, a little bit of sunlight and a chance to frolic outside and sleep outside.”

He has an older cat that roams the neighbourhood and is too set in its ways to change. But, with rescue cats, the organizations that adopt them out usually insist they be kept indoors, often because they come with things like compromised immune systems and respiratory problems.

But, the patio option left them with very little actual sunlight.

“We talked about and planned on building one out on the lawn so, when I suddenly had a whole bunch of time on my hands, it was the time to do it,” Lockhart said.

That “it” is an 8x12 foot enclosure that allows their cats to enjoy playing on the lawn and is complete with an outdoor litter box. But, since the lawn is across a lane from the house where the cats live indoors, he also built a 14-foot bridge over the lane.

Image Credit: Gena Lock

He now has three other cat yards he’s working on and has registered Catabitat Contracting and Construction as his business name with a business licence pending.

The trick is to make something that is open and light and will keep the cats safely inside.

He’s using wire fencing around the edges and has a couple of options to keep the cats from climbing over the walls.

One is to simply put a roof on top but that’s just creating a very, very big cage, he said. In other cases he uses translucent plastic patio roofing that can extend inward from the top of the wire wall far enough to keep the cats in without blocking much sunlight.

Lockhart is happy with his three-day-a-week job (down from four because of COVID-19) as a equipment technician with Flaman Fitness but would like to fill his time, well into the fall, building cat yards.

Then, he hopes to move his construction skills indoors.

“There are some awesome ways to turn the edges of interior rooms into cat playgrounds so they don’t just have the cat stand but they have the opportunity to climb up steps mounted on the wall to some high places – cats love high places,” he said.

Lockhart can be reached at 250-864,5471, by email at michael.david.lockhart@gmail.com, or Facebook.

Image Credit: Gena Lock

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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