Oliver has two independent, fully insulated and heated houses available to him. There is Oliver's House which is tucked behind a bunch of trees near the northeast edge of the property and there is Oliver's Guest House, which is closer to the southwest edge of out lot.
The tour starts with Oliver's House, which is nicely hidden in this greenery. I ran underground electrical service and network cable to this location to power the electric heating pad and network camera.
You can see the greenery needs some trimming.
There is a secret treasure hiding in the greenery that most people never get to see, but Oliver gets to enjoy - there is an old red wagon with some old plant boxes in it. You can tell it's wicked old because it's in black and white.
Oliverland yearly maintenance involves trimming greeneries, clearing off the roof, and completely emptying the contents of his home and using a giant outdoor suck monster to clean out any bugs or miscellaneous debris.
There are several layers of wood in each house with a layer of rigid insulation between each layer. I've seen people just use the insulation, but I didn't want Oliver or his guests scratching up the insulation, so I built a thin wooden box to cover all the insulation.
With all the extra wood and insulation removed you can see the outer wood layer. The red fleece fabric parts in the middle and attempts to cut down on the drafts coming in the doorways.
I had plenty of help with the work, Pierre is so curious about everything he had to see what I was up to!
Pierre tries to sneak up on me through the greenery.
Oliver's House features a large single picture window made of real glass. It's amazing how dirty it gets in a year. This is the view from inside his house with the dirt still in place:
And the view after cleaning. Now that it's clean again, Oliver will get to enjoy the beauty of the old wagon every time he visits his house.
Once everything is clean, I sprinkle in a bunch of diatomaceous earth between the layers to keep the bugs under control. I've heard it naturally kills fleas, but is not harmful to the cats. Replacing all the innards is basically the reverse of taking it apart, first the insulation goes in followed by the wooden sides.
With everything cleaned, it's time to add the heating pad and soft clean fleece blankets, but before the roof panel can be added and the house closed back up, my handiwork must pass rigorous quality control standards.
It's much the same process for the Guest House, which is smaller than Oliver's House. Because each were custom built, the general principle is the same with some slight differences.
All the layers are removed and it's sucked out. The wires go to the net camera, which has already been removed. Each house has it's own camera so I can watch the cats.
Now that everything is out and cleaned, I add the diatomaceous earth.
And then start piecing back the layers. Each board and piece of insulation is marked to help put it all back together.
All the panels are made to be a snug fit, so friction holds everything in place. The bottom board is the second to last piece to be installed with the insulated ceiling being the last. With everything put back (heating pad goes under the fleece blankets), it's time for quality control inspections.
The roof cannot be re-installed until Oliver has personally inspected the work and gives his approval. The beige thing on the right side of the back wall is a wireless temperature and humidity sensor. Each house, and the lounge hall has one, that way I can monitor the temperature inside the heated homes compared to the outside temperature. I rest well knowing the kitties are quite toasty warm in their houses even when it's crazy cold outside.
Safety First! You'll notice each house has two doors. Emergency egress is critical. If a predator or strange cat comes along the last thing I want is Oliver to be trapped. With two doors, he can always escape.
The window on the Guest House is noticeably smaller than the luxurious picture window of Oliver's House. Oliver wants his guests to be comfortable but also wants them to always remember that he's topcat.
It looks like the Guest House passes inspection, now off to inspect Oliver's House...
Oliver's House gets the same thorough examination. You can see the net camera on the bottom right, it's attached to the ceiling panel.
And thankfully, Oliver's House also passes inspection. I'm nearly done.
The insulated ceiling panel is snugly put in place, the hinged roof is closed, and the camera is adjusted by reaching through the kitty entry door while watching on the iPad.
And we're good for another year!
In similar fashion, the Guest House is closed back up.
The next day, when I checked the net cameras, this is what I found from Oliver's House:
Oliver is on the left and Pierre on the right. They seem to like the fresh, clean bedding! The heaters in the houses are not on right now as it's not quite cold enough (although the heaters on the back porch where they sleep the night are already going!) Seeing these guys enjoy the space sure makes all the work worthwhile. Back when MK was still around, he loved cuddling up with Pierre or Oliver on cold winter days. Every time I tune into the cameras and see them snuggling my heart gets all mushy!
The Guest House hasn't had any visitors yet since the cleaning. But it looks inviting and comfy!
In Part 2, I'll show you the raccoon-proof feeder, Lounge Hall, and all the enclosed back porch amenities including Kitty Castle and Loft.