May – 2018
It’s been about a month since our first visit with our Cat Behaviorist, Dr. Curtis. Our primary assignment was to construct a semi-transparent wall in the middle of our home. The goal was to divide the house into 2 safe zones for our cats. This way our cats could go about their daily routines safely and in plain sight of each other. The hope is that eventually they all just get used to seeing each other and the drive to fight just goes away. But we were warned there are no guarantees and we could be looking at having this wall up for the next 9 months.
It was encouraging to know that we were thinking along the same lines as our Cat Behaviorist when we took our first and second stabs at partitioning the house several months ago.
Failed Attempt #1 – The Pet Gate
Our first attempt involved placing a standard 40” tall pet gate in the doorway separating the living room from the guest bedroom. The openings on this particular gate were a tad wide so we added some electrical tape crosswise to play it safe. The pet gate worked like a charm up until my Savannah Cats decided they no longer wanted to be confined to the guest bedroom. All it took was a little motivation (me cooking chicken in the other room) and Django leapt over the pet gate. It was a matter of seconds before he was greeted by a very angry Puddles.
But aside from the inadequate height of the pet gate, it also didn’t allow for as much interaction as we’d hoped. Even when Puddles would set up camp right outside of the pet gate, Arya and Django wouldn’t have to go far to be out of sight and completely at peace. The only face time they’d have is when we forced it by feeding them at the gate.
Failed Attempt #2 – The Makeshift Pet Fence
Our next attempt involved stringing 42” tall plastic construction fencing diagonally across our living room. We nailed it to the walls and duct taped it to the floor. This setup doubled Arya and Django’s territory, but it was far from ideal. For starters, it was nearly impossible for us humans to get from one side to the other. It wasn’t long before Puddles started testing the integrity of the fence. It was able to withstand a few full-on charges from her, but eventually she weakened it enough that she was able to slip underneath. And then… another cat fight.
We added even more duct tape to the floor and got a few more weeks of use out of the pet fence. But then Django decided to bunny hop over the thing. And that’s when the pet fence was rendered utterly useless. We went back to complete isolation relying entirely on closed doors.
Final Attempt – The Great Wall
When our Cat Behaviorist suggested we try yet another pet fence I was a little reluctant considering our bad experiences to date. But all that experience made us better prepared to design something that’d actually work.
At our meeting we discussed the logistics of the proposed divider. The “Great Wall” as we now refer to it, would run lengthwise down the middle of our 20-foot wide living room. Puddles would have half the house, including access to her favorite spots – the movie room and the master bedroom. And Arya and Django would have half the house with access to their favorite spot – the guest bedroom.
From our experience, I knew it had to be at least 48 inches tall if there was going to be any hope of keeping my leaping Savannah Cats from jumping over it. It’d have to be incredibly sturdy to withstand Puddles slamming into it. And it’d have to be human-friendly if we were going to have to live with this thing for the remainder of the year.
I spent a few hours searching the internet for a pre-made pet fence that’d get the job done. I came up empty handed. Then I went to the drawing board and settled on a design that I desperately hoped would work. After a trip to Home Depot and several hours of work, The Great Wall was in operation. If you want to build your own extra-large, collapsible, plastic lattice pet fence, check out our DIY Guide here.
The Great Wall has been up for just under a month and aside from a minor Velcro malfunction that lead to a cat breech, we’d call it a success. None of our cats have managed to knock it over or jump over it. Arya and Django are noticeably more confident and seem to be much happier having a designated territory of their own, as opposed to the daily site-swapping that we had been putting them through. Puddles has fully committed herself to the role of Border Control and Surveillance Supervisor along the Great Wall. As you can see, she takes her job very seriously.