Tag Archives: cats

Pan and Hera

It’s been quite a while since I’ve put up a gallery of Pan and Hera pictures, so…

Click through for the full gallery.

Leave a comment

Little Cat House on the Coast

After Thanksgiving day, Darlene and I loaded up the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle and headed down the coast south of Monterey.  My intention was for us to stay a couple of nights at the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park campground, but I forgot it was still closed from the impact of the Soberanes fire earlier this year.  D’oh!  So we kept heading south as the sun set (there’s no overnight parking allowed along the highway here), passing several alternate, full campgrounds until we found space at the San Simeon State Park campground.  We walked to the beach in the rain the next morning before heading out, stopped to let the cats out for a scary adventure when the rain let up later, caught a tour of “Nitt Witt Ridge” in Cambria and made it to Morro Bay by nightfall.  On Saturday night, the campgrounds were full so we found a nice out-of-the-way spot to boondock for the night. On Sunday, we visited the bay, the rock, the natural history museum and the Monarch butterflies before heading home in the evening up 101.

      

Click through for the full gallery.

Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

Little Cat House in the Forest

Just some pictures from another little overnight excursion with Pan and Hera in the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle, this time in the redwoods of Butano State Park.

 

We’re slowly building up to longer outings with them and they do seem to be adapting to it as a second home.  They’re also learning to go out for a little exploration in their harnesses.  Hera’s become quite the little explorer while Pan is still pretty nervous and reluctant.   Neither of them are happy about being in the vehicle while it’s in motion though.

Also tagged | Leave a comment

Little Cat House on the Beach

Just some pictures from our first real excursion with Pan and Hera in the Mobile Cat House (aka, Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle).  To the beach (Waddell Beach) for Sunday afternoon and evening:

 

Also tagged | Leave a comment

Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle

DSC00356

Holy cat snacks!  I bought an RV!!  To be otherwise known as the Mobile Cat House, Traveling Cat Camper, Cat-Assisted Adventure Van, Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle?  The idea here is to be able to take extended road trips and bring the cats along so that I don’t always have to make arrangements for a cat sitter.

I wanted something small enough to be able to take most anywhere (cities, state/national parks, even dirt roads) and yet large enough that the cats won’t go stir crazy and hate it.  Darlene and I intend to use it mostly, if not always, “dry camping” (or “boondocking” without hookups for water or electricity); in other words, our intention isn’t to travel to RV “resorts” or campgrounds.  We’ll prefer being able to camp out on open national park, forest service or BLM lands.

IMG_4850

Now if this wasn’t mostly about being able to bring the cats along, I’d definitely go for a compact 4×4 Sprinter van conversion that would allow us to go anywhere we would have previously gone and still easily fit in city parking spaces. However, to better accommodate the cats (it is the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle after all), I eventually settled on the somewhat wider and longer Leisure Travel Vans “Unity 24TB” (Twin Bed) model, built on the Mercedes Sprinter diesel-powered chassis.  It’s a little wider and longer than a normal Sprinter van and thus a “class B+ or C” but it should still be reasonably manageable both in the city and in the wild.  Unfortunately, there aren’t yet options for electric drivetrains on campervans and motorhomes, but they’re coming.  Mercedes-Benz may well have an all-electric option for its Sprinter chassis in a few more years.

While the Leisure Travel Vans build lacks somewhat in some of the technical features I wanted, many of those aspects can be upgraded after the fact.  The rest of the craftsmanship, aesthetics and build quality are fantastic.  (I’ve posted my shopping/comparison notes here from my RV/campervan selection process as a sort of a review of what’s available that might be helpful to others.)

Anyway, I found and bought this only very slightly used 2016 Unity from a previous owner in Montana, with just 3100 miles on it, before I drove it the 1250 miles back home.  It was great to find a relatively new used one, to avoid the immediate depreciation hit of buying new and also to skip the 6-8 month long backlog for new orders.  Leisure Travel Vans are hard to come by and dealer’s orders seem to sell immediately.  I wasn’t even able to look at one in person anywhere in California.

It remains to be seen if Pan and Hera will adapt to taking extended road trips in their new Traveling Cat House.  If it doesn’t work out with the cats, I’m sure it’ll still be a fun adventure and it should be easy enough to sell again if I find it’s not something I want to keep.  In the meantime, there’s a number of changes and upgrades I’ll be making to the Traveling Cat House which I’ll document here, to hopefully help out others like myself:  RV Tips, Upgrades and Customizations

Update:  The cats are doing great and have adapted well to traveling in the RV.  Follow this tag (“RV Travels”) to see and read about Pan and Hera’s traveling adventures!

Also tagged | 4 Comments

Cat Boxing Demonstration

Pan and Hera Demonstrate Cat Boxing

Cat Boxing Demonstration by Hera and Pan

Leave a comment

A Visit from Wile E. Coyote

I noticed Pan looking out the window intently this morning… presumably watching the wild rabbits in the front yard again.  But no, it was somebody else looking for the bunnies today!  Grabbed a little video, set to the tune of some classic cartoon music from Warner Brothers:

Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

Watched by Mountain Lions

This is some fantastic (and spooky) video footage of several mountain lions hanging around Rancho San Antonio park (near Cupertino and Los Altos).  In particular, watch for the part where the lions sit and watch the runner/hiker with the flashlight in the distance:

Here’s also a related news report and video where a runner came upon and recorded a lion capturing a deer at mid-day in Rancho San Antonio park.

Also tagged | Leave a comment

Pan Meets the Guardian Owl

Pan had developed a habit of lying in wait on the upstairs deck early every morning, in a perfect spot for an unsuspecting bird to alight nearby on the wall.  It was unfortunately a reasonably successful strategy, so I decided to try one of those plastic owls to ward off the birds.  Pan and Hera’s different reactions to first seeing it was amusing:

Pan and Hera meet the Guardian Owl (60 seconds, 20 MB)

  

And yes, the guardian owl has been effective.  It’s been well over a year (I’m backdating this post) and almost every bird has stayed away from the deck but Pan continued to go out before dawn every morning for most of a year, oblivious to why the birds stopped coming.  All except this one little guy who came along many months later.  He was apparently too smart for his own good and not fooled by the plastic owl.  He even seemed to taunt Pan through the window over the course of a week or two.  However, I’m guessing this is also that same bird that Pan eventually caught a little later.

Also tagged | Leave a comment

Misty Santa Cruz Sunrise

I woke to the first glimmer of this fantastic misty, foggy sunrise out my bedroom window a couple of days ago… so I scrambled to set up a camera on the deck to capture a time-lapse video and snag a few nice shots.  Pan supervised:

   IMG_3331

Leave a comment

Robot in the House

For years I’ve dismissed those little semi-autonomous, robotic sucking machines.  It sounded like they weren’t really worth the trouble since they couldn’t really run for very long, pick up much debris in their tiny compartments, deal with furniture without missing spots or getting stuck or trapped. With all the need to supervise, it sounded easier and quicker to do it yourself.  But then recently I stumbled on a review of a new model and was intrigued by the improvements and the possibility of a little machine to help keep up on all that cat hair my two furry friends are always producing.

 A fun video showing my new little helper in action (1.5 minutes, 24 MB)

It’s the BotVac 80/85 from Neato.  Unlike its more well-known competitor (iRobot Roomba), this robotic vacuum cleaner does not just follow a random walk around the room, bumping haphazardly from one obstacle to the next.  The BotVac uses laser sensors to map out the shape of each room and build up a floor plan as it goes about its business.  When it encounters obstacles like tables and chairs, it will actually work to navigate around each leg, vacuuming under and around as much as it can.  It’s pretty amazing (and mesmerizing) to watch it navigate around the house, room after room, following its little internal rule sets to deal with various obstacles as they come up.

  • When the BotVac gets low on charge, it will actually backtrack through the map it built to return to its charging base and dock itself for recharging, even off in another room.  And when it has finished recharging it will return by itself to where it left off and continue the job!
  • It’s got touch sensors in front to help it maneuver tightly to objects and walls.
  • It has a sensor underneath to keep it from running off a cliff (or stairs).
  • It comes with some magnetic strips that you can lay down on the floor to cordon off rooms or areas that you don’t want it to intrude on.  (It’s much simpler than the battery-operated “fence” posts that the iRobot apparently uses.)
  • It has a little edge-cleaning brush on the right side.  (Thus it will always approach walls and make its rounds in a right-handed path.)
  • It’s squared off in front so that it can get into corners much better than fully round designs like the Roomba.
  • It has a larger-than-typical dust bin and it’s very easy to remove and empty out – without even having to turn over the unit.  It makes sense to also vacuum out the dust filter though.
  • You can set a schedule for when it should run but this doesn’t seem practical to me as I would first want to clear stuff off the floor and make sure there aren’t any cat messes that it would get into – and make worse.  (Hera often has stomach issues.)

It’s not quite a replacement for a full-size vacuum cleaner but it certainly does an amazing job considering that you can just start it up and let it go while you go about doing other things.  (You also do need a normal vacuum cleaner to clear out its filter.)  It’s pretty cool though to come back and find everything freshly vacuumed!  And it’s not really that loud (certainly much less than a full size vacuum) and it’s not too annoying to have it going about it’s business while you do other things.

One limitation with the BotVac is that at about four inches tall, it can’t fit under some furniture, particularly couches.  (The Roomba design has a lower profile and can fit under more furniture.)  Also, the BotVac can get itself stuck at times and need help.  This happens sometimes with furniture that offers just enough clearance for it to partially slip under but not quite enough for it to fit entirely under.  Often this goes fine and it will just work its way around, but other times it’ll get itself wedged in and need to be pulled out.  When it does get stuck or trapped, it will cut power to its vacuum and call for help by chiming.  It’ll then sit and wait quietly for a while before chiming now and again.

Here’s a much more mixed review of the BotVac that comes out in favor of the Roomba.  Some more reviews: BotVac 85 vs. Roomba 880 (favors the BotVac) and iRobot Roomba vs Neato Botvac (favors neither).

Note that the BotVac 85 is really just the same model as the 80 but it comes with two extra filters included.   (This wasn’t obvious to me.)  Both the 80 and 85 come with the two different brush types.

Now… what should I name him?

UPDATE (1/28/2015): The BotVac is still running but I have seen more of its deficiencies.  One thing that happens is that it essentially becomes a little senile with a low battery charge: it often has become unable to find its way back to its charge station with its battery runs low.  It will repeatedly and aimlessly search a small area (a couple of square feet) and after a long while finally give up and call for help – this without any obstacles in the way.  My guess is that it lets the voltage level drop too far on the battery now and is unable to sufficiently power its electronics and sensors.  At first it only happened occasionally, then it started happening almost every time.  But then, more recently (April 2015), it’s been working properly again! Weird. Anyway, when it does “go senile”, I have to pick it up and manually dock it at its charge station.  (If I let it continue its search for the dock right in front of it, it will just wander off again.)

The other issue (and this is more annoying) is that its methodical method of covering a room means that it will get into try over and over again (unsuccessfully) to reach some particularly difficult spot (due to furniture) and waste a lot of its battery charge or even eventually get itself wedged in or otherwise stuck.  Bringing it back out again will often lead to it just finding its way right back into that spot.  I’ve since got into the habit of leaving some strategically placed pillows or other items to prevent it from getting into those spots.  This is where I imagine the Roomba might do better with its random walk pattern: it probably won’t get stuck obsessively trying to reach the same spot.

Lastly, as I mentioned earlier, the biggest problem with the BotVac is the little laser assembly sticks up in the center of the unit. This protrusion isn’t accounted for when the unit tries to go under some furniture so it can end up wasting energy trying over and over to get under some furniture or even getting wedged under such furniture.

However, the BotVac does still do a good vacuuming job and it’s great to be able to set it off running while you take care of other things.

Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

Another Bobcat in the Yard

I should know better than to just ignore Pan when I see he’s staring out the window.  The second time I walked by I stopped to look and… oh, hey!  There’s another bobcat – and it’s in the front yard this time!  Or maybe it’s the same one I keep seeing in the open space behind my house.  Anyway, by the time I ran upstairs to get the camera, he was following the driveway out of the front yard, but not before stopping to mark his territory.  It was dusk and getting dark, but I boosted the video a bit:

 

I went outside to say hi but he wasn’t interested in chatting.  Presumably he’s looking for the rabbits I sometimes see – or maybe the field mice that escape Pan’s fenced off domain.  I followed him down the driveway a bit, scaring off the deer, before he disappeared into the brush.

 

Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

Pan’s New Modeling Career

Pan has apparently started his career in modeling and now appears in this promotional YouTube video for Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping.  My yard is featured starting at the 1:12 mark but Pan makes two appearances starting at the 1:36 mark:

Leave a comment

Pan the Poser

A few more recent pics of Pan mostly posing for the camera:

 
 

Leave a comment

Pretty Kitties

Just a few pictures of Pan and Hera from over the past year:

  

Leave a comment

Rough Week for Pan

Pan was pretty content when I woke last Sunday morning (below left) — but I noticed he had a lump under his jaw — and there was a dead bat on the bedroom floor when I came home late Saturday night.

  

Yeah, a bat.  I suppose they caught it on the roof — they have a pet door upstairs so they can access the balcony and roof.  At least both he and Hera are current on their rabies shots.

So, the result of taking him to the vet is that they anesthetized him, took care of some overdue teeth cleaning, gave him a rabies update and installed a drain in the abscess that had to remain in place for the week.

That first night was a long one.  He was drugged out for the evening but then he started getting restless and wouldn’t tolerate the elizabethan collar — he kept pulling himself out of it.  He also seemed to hallucinate things now and again.  I didn’t get much sleep that night baby-sitting him.

Sometime early the next morning I finally remembered the cat body harness I had and was able to attach the elizabethan collar to it so he couldn’t remove it any more.

Not a happy or comfortable cat for the rest of the week until the drain and collar could finally be removed.  But he’s good and happy again now and healing fine.

Leave a comment