Information

Why do cats like enclosed spaces (e.g. boxes) so much?


A recent article doesn't reach a firm conclusion, but offers two possible explanations.

  • Hiding is a behavioral strategy of the species to cope with environmental changes and stressors.

  • It keeps the cat at a comfortable temperature.


"Cats like boxes because they are cryptic animals; they like to hide,"And a box gives them a place of safety and security." While inside a box, cats feel that they cannot be snuck up on from behind or the side - anything that wants to approach them must come directly into their field of vision. In effect, such hiding spaces allow them to watch the world around them without being seen.

And if something interesting passes in front of the cat - be it prey or a toy - it can dash out to get the object, and then quickly return to its safety spot.

Boxes also provide cats with a cozy, safe place to sleep, which is very important given that the felines sleep for up to 20 hours a day.


Scared To Let My Cat Out?! Help

Really need some advice. My 6 month old kitten nessa really wants to go out, I’ve been letting her out supervised here and there but I panic and get scared when she runs to far or if anothe cat comes.

I don’t know what to do, she cries by the door because she wants to go out so much but I’m so scared she won’t come back or that’ll she get into fights with other cats!!

Betsygee

Just what part of meow don't you understand.

Have you tried taking her out for walks with a leash and harness?

Is it an option to create an enclosed space (catio) for her to be able to go outside but still be safe?

Neely

May the purr be with you

Welcome to TCS! I don't know what your living conditions or the area you live in are like, e.g. apartment vs house, rural vs urban, high traffic area, etc. - perhaps you could elaborate a bit more. Here is an Article about cat safety that is helpful in answering some of your questions: How To Keep Your Cat Safe Outdoors

Amethyst

TCS Member

So I'm guessing you live in a town or city not country? Honestly if I didn't live in the middle of nowhere I wouldn't be letting my cats outside unsupervised. Even then I do worry about them, but I also have a rottie mix outside to help guard the property, the cats know to run to him or back towards the house should they get into trouble.

There are a couple safe ways you can still let the cat out though. First get her a harness and get her use to it inside the house before going out. Something like a Kitty Holster looks like they work well, cats seem to tolerate them and they can't easily escape them. Next get her use to walking on a lead, once she is ok with that you can start taking her out for walks or on a long line (like a thin dog tie out line).

The other safe way to let the cat out is to build a catio, which is a fully screened in pen for the cat to go outside but still be inside a protected area. The cat can enjoy unsupervised outside time, without the worry of running away or getting attacked by anther animal.

Orange&white

TCS Member

It really does depend on your neighborhood (how many risks) and the kitten's personality (is she likely to roam very far).

My senior has always dashed out the door, but never once gone more than 20-30 feet from the house. He also panics if he gets left outside accidentally without me sitting outside with him. He's happy just sitting in the sun a few minutes on nice days.

My feral cat who is a "work in progress" goes out on her own when she wants and spends quite a few hours outside unsupervised. Since she was TNR'd, she never goes very far either though and comes running when I call her, even when she has ventured outside of my large backyard. But she was born feral in the neighborhood and knows her way around. I do worry over her the most though.

If you're in a high-risk neighborhood or unsure whether your kitty would run away and not turn up for an extended period, I would get her a harness and leash and go out with her, or just keep her as an indoor-only cat and wait for her to adjust.

Tobermory

“What greater gift than the love of a cat.”

Timmer

TCS Member

Kieka

Snowshoe Servant

I have indoor/outdoor cats and if you are set on letting her out you have to work on the call training before you let her out. I spent the most time training Rocket because she was feral when she joined us. Once I got her coming to me when I called in the house we moved outside. It was about six months of letting her go progressively further but anytime she didn't come back as soon as I called she was taken inside. It meant me sitting outside with her for an hour or two after work every day so that I could be sure she came back multiple times and even if I hadn't called her for a while. If she came when I called she got a treat and to go back to playing. It wasn't until she came every time I called even when she was out of sight that I let her out with my other two watching her. In the last two years, she's usually the first to come in when called and stays closest to home. The only exception is if she has a lizard or cricket and then I usually will find her slowly herding her catch towards the house.

Really though, unless your area is safe for a cat outside you are better off leash training or building a catio. It gives your cat outside access in a controlled situation and you the peace of mind.


11 Answers 11

If I were in your shoes, I would not let the cat go outside. It is just my personal opinion based on safety, though - and I'm saying this as a person who thinks that indoor cats are indeed missing an important, but non-essential aspect of their lives. Also, I tend to get deeply bonded with all the pets I'm taking care for, maybe too much, or maybe not - thus my opinion is naturally biased towards sacrificing their freedom for safety in such dilemmas.

My main concern is the fact that indoor cats, on average, have a lifespan of around 16 years - while outdoor cats of only around 4 years (please see the references included at the footnote for sources). I will paraphrase what a wise person once said, in your context: a child denied of going for a meal in a fast-food restaurant, and given broccoli instead, would also act like it is genuinely hurt, trying to make the parents feel bad, sometimes also making them not being able to stand it and give up - but this is actually bad for the child itself, and so is in my consideration letting your cat outside in this situation.

I think it is okay and even preferred to let your cat outside if you are living in a village, especially if there are no wild predators like coyotes, etc. where you live - but city presents just too much potential hazards in my opinion. High density of traffic, high density of people (and not all people like cats!), dog owners deliberately unleashing their aggressive dogs to attack cats for fun - of course, all of these hazards are also existing in a village scenario - but it's just that in the city they are much more likely to happen.

Ultimately, it is your cat and your choice - but also your responsibility, thus I am happy and glad you have asked this question let us help you in your considerations. Please take note that I don't intend to mean that letting your cat outdoors is the worst idea possible I generally think this dilemma is too complicated and multidimensional to be able to be easily summarized and answered by a single, best-solution approach. It depends on what does the owner value the most, and it naturally varies from person to person. If the owner shares the safety-number-1-priority-attitude with me, my answer might be convincing and useful. If not, the owner could decide to not agree with me and let the cat go outside - and that's fine, but it's preferred that it is a conscious decision, made after taking all the related hazards into consideration. Getting to see and analyze a point of view from a safety-oriented person, like me, is what could be regarded as getting informed about these hazards.


Best Cat Trees for Large Cats Reviews

1. Go Pet Club Cat Tree

Starting our list of cat trees for large cats is this tree tower from Go Pet Club. It comes in three different color options, including beige, blue, and a funky leopard print, so cat owners will find a style that fits their decor and style. The posts are covered with sisal rope, a natural fiber material that cats love because it adds a bark-like texture and is perfect for scratching.

With a large wide base (28″W x 24″L), this cat tree for large cats won't tip over, making it safe and fun to use for your feline friends.

  • Very durable cat tower
  • The cat tower fits in easily with household decor
  • It won't tip over thanks to a wide base
  • It's a big cat tree but still easy to assemble
  • The wood beneath the sisal rope may not hold up under high amounts of pressure, so it might not be the best for multiple large cats to use at one time (although many users say that many of their large cats can play safely on it together
  • Edges can break

2. ARMARKAT Classic Model Cat Tree

The next on our list for best cat towers is this heavy duty cat tree from ARMARKAT. This tower is also constructed with sisal rope that promotes healthy scratching,

Important to note: the manufacturers of this cat tree recommends that you place the device (an impressive 4.75 feet tall!) in a corner somewhere. This prevents the device from tipping over when large cats jump on top of it from far away.

But most cat owners prefer to place scratching posts and towers in the corner of a room anyway, and this large tower is unassuming thanks to its flat perches.

  • It's generally solid and can hold up to 40 lbs
  • Easy to put together
  • This cat tower is constructed with pressed solid wood, plush faux fur, and sisal rope
  • It comes with a hanging toy which may pose a safety hazard for young kittens (but the toy is removable)
  • The sisal rope isn't as durable as some owners would expect

3. ARMARKAT Cat Tree & Condo

Wow, is this thing tall! This cat condo for large cats features all sorts of interesting places for your cat to lounge, play, and watch the world go by.

Armakat's products have provided pets around the world with fun and relaxation, while providing pet owners with the enjoyment and satisfaction of knowing they bought a quality product that is not only fashionably designed but also durable and safe.

Cats will love that this tree is so tall, and you'll love that it's easy to put together. We do think the base could be a bit bigger to accommodate the tall size and prevent tipping.

  • Tree structure is made using plywood, which makes it stable and sturdy
  • Constructed with high quality material including faux fur on the perches
  • Really easy and quick to assemble
  • Features ten scratch posts & 2 condos
  • There's no padding beneath the faux fur, so it's not as plush as it could be
  • Reviewers have commented that this large cat tower can tip over, which poses a serious safety hazard

4. Furhaven Pet Cat Tree

The next on our list of luxurious cat condos is this feline tree from Furhaven. Like most of the other cat trees on our list, this one features sisal rope which promotes healthy scratching (and hopefully keeps your kitties from scratching the sofa instead).

Because it's tall and sturdy, this one is a good cat tower for large cats. If your animals are particularly rambunctious and high energy, they'll probably love all the extra add-ons that can supports physical and mental stimulation, including a hanging mouse toy, puff ball toys, a dangling rope, and a ” cat IQ busy box.”

  • Relatively cheap
  • Large scratch posts are a good fit for a tall cat with a long reach
  • Features two multi-level cat condos so multiple kitties can cozy up at once
  • Comes with extra features to add to the tower's appeal and utility
  • Comes in only one size and color
  • The perches are relatively small
  • Some users find it's a bit cumbersome to put together

5. Go Pet Club Cat Tree Condo House

The next cat tower on our list comes from Go Pet Club and is among the more affordable options you'll find. Where it lacks in height it makes up for in sturdiness it's hard to get this cat condo to tip over. The cat perches are durable although the higher ones may not be the best for large cats over 14 pounds or so.

While the scratching post areas are pretty small, the tower does offer at least some sisal rope for your cat to use. Plus it has a neutral brown color that fits easily into most home decor.

  • Very sturdy with a large base, and unlikely to tip over
  • The perches are comfortable and will stand up to repeated use
  • Easy to put together and features handy instructions
  • Affordable
  • Cats find it enjoyable
  • Only comes in one color
  • Perches and condos a bit small, so may not be the best cat tree for large cats
  • The faux fur fabric is pretty thin ( but it doesn't look cheap and cats still seem to like it)

6. AmazonBasics Cat Activity Tree with Scratching Posts

This large cat condo from AmazonBasics really is about as basic as they come. For a no frills and simple screw-together design, this product is a good choice. While many users have noted that it tends to tip over, it's safer when you put it in a corner, which is easy to do thanks to its square base and symmetrical design.

Cats like the top perch, although it's not enclosed and as “den-like” as other cart condos on our list. But there plenty of sisal rope scratching posts for your felines to choose from!

  • Made with high quality material
  • Provides cats with a place to rest,exercise,and scratch
  • Easy assembly and clean
  • The square base and overall dimensions make it easy to fit into a corner
  • Doesn't come with any enclosed sleeping or lounging areas (something cats usually love)
  • Also doesn't include any toys or other extra features
  • Could be more durable
  • More likely to tip over compared to other cat trees on our list
  • The light color can fade or stain easily

7. Vesper Cat Furniture

Compared to the other large cat trees on our list, this one from Vesper Cat Furniture definitely stands out in the style department. It features a wood aesthetic that many pet parents will like, although some note that it doesn't hold up to regular use as much as they expected it would.

The tree has two removable memory foam pads that are super comfortable to lay on. At just under 4 feet tall, it's not the largest feline tower on our list, but cats love the enclosed cube and there are still enough levels and features to keep it interesting (including a hanging ball toy and scratch posts).

  • Stable design looks great in any home, especially for those who prefer modern decor
  • Great cat tower for active cats who need a lot of exercise
  • Memory foam cushions are removable and easy to wash
  • Easy to put together
  • Sisal rope scratching posts could be more durable
  • The hard surfaces may be tough or even slippery for larger cats who are older or less physically adept
  • The cube-shaped condo can be difficult to clean

8. Kitty City Claw Mega Kit Cat Furniture

A so-called “cat magnet,” this unusual and unique cat tree features multiple different materials and modular designs that are perfect for curious cats. It's super lightweight and a lot easier to move or even change the design, making it great to fit into different spaces. Pet parents even have the option of adding different modular attachments to keep the cat tower engaging.

Cats will use it for scratching, playing, lounging, sleeping and exercising. It's also easy to put together and clean, so removes a lot of headaches for you. Even larger cats can comfortably fit inside the enclosed spaces.

  • Safe to use on multiple cats
  • Large and tall but also easy to change around the shape and dimensions
  • Crafted with strong and heavy duty joints
  • Lightweight and easy to move and clean (great for anyone for whom heavy lifting may be challenging)
  • According to reviewers, it's not very durable
  • The cat condos aren't as enclosed as some cats may prefer
  • Looks more like a toy than a piece of furniture

9. MidWest Cat Furniture

With a comfortable cubby condo at the base and a high-rise bolstered perch, this cat tree for larger cats is great for animals from top to bottom. It's one of the sturdier cat trees on our list, but it's also easy on the eyes and blends in well to most types of home decor.

With multiple levels of perches, this product is a great one for homes with multiple cats, especially those on the larger size—and it's sturdy enough for feline friends to play on, too.

  • Easy and intuitive assembly
  • Comes with a one-year warranty
  • Features a nice faux fleece lining
  • The lower part is heavy and sturdy, to prevent tip-overs
  • Fits in well with most types of home decor, with neutral colors and a cute pattern design
  • Great for cats who like to relax and look out over the room
  • If you don't like the pattern it won't be a good fit for you
  • Plastic caps meant to cover exposed screw heads tend to fall off (but fixable with glue)

10. FEANDREA Multi-Level Cat Tree

This cat tree literally towers over most of the other products in this list, so if you have a gaggle of big kitties it may be just the thing for your feline friendly home. You can choose either light or smoky gray, so it'll fit well in homes with light or dark colored cats.

The product also offers two cat condos, multiple plush perches for comfy cat naps, and a unique slope-like sisal design that gives lots of room for long kitty legs to stretch out on.

  • High-quality materials
  • Comes highly recommended by users
  • Features a unique sisal rope covered slope
  • Good for large cats
  • A bit cumbersome to put together and store in your home
  • One of the more expensive cat condos on our list (but made with durable high quality material)

11. Go Pet Club Huge Cat Tree

Last on our list of top cat trees is this enormous cat tower from Go Pet Club. Ideal for medium to large cats, the huge tower (anywhere from 92 to 106 inches tall!) is adjustable and can even be attached to the ceiling to reduce the risk of tip overs.

This tower also offers three comfy condos for cats to sleep in and contains sisal, faux fur, and compressed wood. Choose from gray, brown, or beige.

  • Easy to put together
  • Extremely tall and offers added security with bracer that can attach to the ceiling
  • Excellent value
  • Material may not be sturdy enough for very heavy cats
  • Not as long lasting and durable as other products in a similar price range

How do I bring a stray cat to the vet?

Iɽ start by simply putting a crate or soft sided carrier in or around whatever door she comes to. Put a comfy dirty sweatshirt in it and maybe some treats provided you won't be introducing rodents or insects by adding in some treats.

Let her go into the crate/carrier on her own - they love a safe, enclosed space until it's been introɽ as a torture contraption lol

No need to rush this process unless there is some underlying health issue.

You could go the trap route, but I don't see any reason to unless you need to get her to the vet ASAP

Get her a cat carrier and put in a blanket in the carrier. Give her some treats so she will feel a little more calm. When you get to the vet you can see if she has a microchip. She might not have one, but if she does it should help you find the owner (if the owner still wants her). Then at the vet you should be able to get recommendations about what kind of food to feed her, and see if she needs any other medical help. I would try and clip at least her front nails before you take her, but some cat focused veterinarians can do that when she gets there (don’t declaw, just clip them so she can’t scratch the vet if she gets scared). My cats vet is not allowing owners to go inside with them because of covid, so once she gets there it will probably be out of your control.

I don't understand why you would need to trim her nails? That seems like a very stressful undertaking for all with a new cat being brought in from the streets. Especially if OP is new with cats she runs the risk of cutting too short and causing bleeding.

Any vet clinic worth their Royal Canine can handle a cat with untrimmed (normal) claws.

Also make sure to cover the cat carrier with another blanket/towel, as cats are more relaxed when they can’t see.

First of all: you need to be careful, some answers here mention traps. This is a good idea, but you really need to be careful because if the cat gets scared enough, she may not approach this area or you again for a while, so you may lose contact. I would pet the cat in a secured area with a carrier ready while someone else (e.g. your gf) closes the door. Then pick the cat cat calmly and put her in the carrier. This way if the cat gets overwhelmed and freaks out (this is very possible) she'll not be able to escape out of the room. Cats do not eat food when they're anxious so don't be afraid he refuses to eat treats in the carrier. Bring her to vet and check for microchips. Then you can introduce her to your home and follow usual guidelines (i.e. giving the cat a room and some time until she gets acclimatized to the house).

I definitely second getting someone else to do the dirty work of trapping Kitty. My husband and I worked for a month with a faulty trap (long story) this past winter to catch a feral cat we wanted to help TNR. He finally got her. I took her to get fixed and picked her up the next day. I really wanted to continue to have a relationship with Athena, so I made sure that her food bowl was full before we opened the trap. She was surprisingly forgiving of the ordeal we put her through (granted it was for her own good). She shot out of that trap like a rocket, but came back to eat even while we were still on the porch with her. Over the last few months, she has become very attached to me through much time spent talking to her and eventually petting her. Then, I worked on picking her up. She even climbs on my lap now! If I don't sit down and provide one for her, she will paw or climb on my leg until I do. Everything has been at her pace. I take my cues from her as to whether she likes something or not. If she doesn't, I stop immediately. She is still leery of my husband still. I think she remembers who trapped her! He also hasn't spent nearly as much time winning over her trust.


The Rough Night

Let’s be honest, we all know what we want after a rough night on the town – a good nap. However, when we’re a little worse for wear, we don’t really care where or how we get to sleep.

The Rough Night

It could be propped up on the toilet, it could be on the kitchen floor, or it could be nestled in between a few radiator pipes. We know which one we’d go for, because this guy looks super comfortable. Although he might want to brush his fur in the morning.


Cat poops on the lawn without burying it

A few days ago, a cat appeared in our garden and was very adamant that he was here to stay.

From pretty much the first day, we found poop on the lawn which looks like it is his. Somehow his instinct to bury his poop is absent or overridden/suspended by something else. He also does it half-way in the garden area where he usually sleeps, and my door—pretty much smack in the middle of his territory.

Background information: He had no collar, tattoo or chip that would provide any hints at ownership, but he appears clean and in good health. According to the vet, he is male, neutered, about a year old and without any apparent health issues.

My guess is he has not been homeless for long, and that he either ran away, was abandoned or rode as a blind passenger in some vehicle (he is very curious and thus prone to getting trapped in any enclosed space). He doesn’t seem to have anyone else taking care of him: the first time I fed him, he appeared starved after that, his appetite returned to normal.

I am currently staying in a furnished apartment. My landlady lives in the main building, my apartment is in an annex, but we share a garden. She doesn’t want him in my apartment, so I only let him inside when I feed him. Other than that he has been inside only twice, hence I cannot tell for sure if he is house trained (he always did his business outside). It also means he is pooping on my landlady’s lawn, which she is not very happy about.

I have seen two other cats in the area, one of whom he engaged in a territorial fight with (the second other cat was sighted a few days before he showed up).

What causes him not to bury his poop—could that be a way of marking his territory? And what can I do about it?


About Nestcams

CAUTIONARY NOTE : Technology is changing all the time, with wireless and solar options. But be careful NOT to use a device that will generate heat inside a small nestbox (not sure Blink's are a good idea. ) - unless it's mounted in a box/PVC endcap ABOVE the roof, and the box has adequate ventilation. A lot of "spy" or monitoring devices are not designed or intended for use in a small nestbox.

If you want color pictures, you need light. and bluebirds use dark cavities for nesting. If there is an artificial light, will it affect developing nestlings eyes? We don't know! Please err on the safe side - as bluebird landlords, we have a responsibility to do no harm.

Equipment : A nestcam is a tiny camera used to view what is happening at a nest site or roosting box. It is mounted inside the nestbox. There are cams designed specifically for nestboxes. Other folks have jerry-rigged a webcam for use, but it must be protected from the elements. You should NOT use a camera that will generate heat inside an enclosed space like a nestbox.

At the NABS 2006 conference, my husband and I attended a nestbox camera (AKA nestcam) workshop. We got a black and white Birdhouse Spy Cam (The Night Owl) (see instructions). The adjustable camera (which manually focuses and swivels up or down and has very sensitive sound), is mounted on the interior roof or back of the nestbox. It has six infrared diodes that provide plenty of light for day or night viewing. (Even picture from a color camera will show up as black and white when it is in infrared mode in very low light/nighttime conditions.) It allows you to be obsessed 24 hours a day.

A lot of folks use the Hawkeye Nature Cam - the HD Cam offers the best resolution. The cam comes with 100' of wire and power transformer. You will need to buy your own monitor or hook it up to your TV. The cost for this cam is about $100. Since it is not wireless, you will need to run a wire from the cam to a power source.

Even if you don't get nesting birds, you can enjoy watching birds or creatures exploring the box or sleeping in it (called roosting) at night.

Warning : The downside (other than technical challenges which you should expect) of a nestcam is that you must try very hard not to become totally obsessed, freak out over what you do or do not see, or start micromanaging events. The upside is you will have an intimate, fascinating, learning experience you can share with your whole family. You can monitor the box 24/7 without physically intruding (opening) the box, right up through fledging. I believe nestcams will revolutionize our understanding of cavity-nesting birds. I think they will also provide us with much more accurate and factual information about predation. With a nestcam you can watch the secret lives of birds inside the box.

Best Nestbox Style : Generally nestcams are mounted on the underside of the roof or the rear of the nestbox. This is most easily done in a box with a removable roof. You also want to get a good view of the entire nestbox interior - it's frustrating to just see a bird head/tail. A Gilwood box (very popular with bluebirds) is not very deep, so if the nest is high, or when birds get bigger, you may not be able to see much. Finally, if you have a non-wireless camera, you need someplace to feed the cable out of the box. I think one ideal style is the Texas Bluebird Society box. It is deep and has slots on either side. See information on other nestbox styles, and their overall pros and cons.

Instead of fiddling with the tiny screws used to connect the inside of the nestbox roof, I have used 3M Dual Lock re-closable fastener (a plastic version of Velcro.)

The Camera : You can buy birdhouses with a camera pre-installed, but it is pretty easy to set it up on an existing box. I would suggest using it on a box where you can also view what is going on outside (e.g., near a window to your house) to supplement the experience. Friend Laura Sue had her husband retrofit several boxes with a removable insert that could be used to put the nestcam in any of a number of boxes, depending on which one gets used. Once a box was chosen, it is a simple matter of removing a 4" PVC cap on the roof and replacing it with one that had the camera mounted inside of it. This also raises the camera up for a wider field of view. Cornell's nestcams are mounted in a box that sits on top of the nestbox. Paul Murray and his 13 year old son Austin used a regular Logitech Webcam (relying on existing light entering through the side vents, and one small window on each side of the birdhouse that he covered with screen, which also helps dissipate the heat generated by the Webcam) to make a great Titmouse video. Webcams probably lack infrared diodes needed for low light/night viewing. The cam is about the size of a matchbox and he just put it on the interior roof of the box, holding it in place with thumbtacks and pins. The camera was positioned about 8" above the nest. A USB cable comes out of the webcam and hooks up directly to a laptop. See description (PDF file) or click on it in the Video of the Month archives.

Most wired cameras come with 100 feet of cable (analog input), which can be extended to 1000 feet (available in 100 foot sections with a plastic sleeve to waterproof connections). It is designed to be hooked up to a TV, but can also be hooked up to a computer with a special connector. It has its own power supply (the red cord.) We picked up a cheap little black and white (since the feed from ours is black & white) Jodam TV. A VCR hookup is a good idea so you don't miss anything. Having sound on the camera helps as it alerts you to action in the nestbox. The vocalizations of birds inside the nestbox are quite interesting.

The Birdhouse Spy Cam

Any camera used in a nestbox needs a very close focal point. A complaint about the Birdhouse Spycam is that the video is a bit grainy and the angle isn't wide enough to see the whole floor of the nestbox (so sometimes you just see the bird's butt.) Actually the hardest part is getting the camera in focus. They recommend pre-setting it using a piece of paper with print, and then making the final adjustment in the box. Sometimes adjustment is needed later anyway as nesting material is added and the babies get larger.

LED lights may cause excess heat build up inside a small box with poor ventilation? You do NOT want anything that will overheat birds, eggs or babies inside the box!

Computer Hookup : If you want to watch and/record the video on your computer, you will need an adapter. You usually have to buy this separately. One is called a "Nest Cam Computer Connection" but it is really an ADS VideoXpress, a little connecting box that uses USB 2.0 VideoGrabber software to put a live feed on your computer screen in a window (you set the size). The feed can then be "grabbed" and recorded onto a DVD or your hard drive. Another option is the EasyCap USB 2.0 Video Capture Adapter. Other parties also make an AV switching device so you can switch between 3 or 4 cameras. These adapters come with some software.

Software for video capture, editing and sharing : You can also capture video through the VideoXpress box with Windows Movie Maker (which comes with Windows XP) - use the Video Capture Wizard, and select Instant VideoXpress, Audio Device: USB2.0 Analog Audio Device, Video input source Composite.) Purple Martins R-Us uses uviewit software, which costs about $30, to control the camera and record the broadcast onto her computer. Nowadays, you can also get software that allows you to watch on your phone.

It may be tricky to edit the video to make it a reasonable size for sharing. A 70 second video can be 1GB! if you want to produce a movie, you will need to use something like Windows Movie Maker or Camtasia Studio. Streaming over the Internet is another thing altogether. If you want to share your video online, there are services like Web Video Zone (for professional looking video) or you can post them on YouTube.

Cost : In 2012, the set up at thebirdshed.com cost $80 to $100 for the Birdhouse Spycam camera, plus $32 for one extension cable. You can get a similar color infrared camera at Sam's (see below) for $40, plus the extension cable. The ADS Tech VideoXpress hookup for the computer would be an additional $55. The EasyCap can be had for around $15. We paid $15 for a little cheapie black and white TV, but you can hook it up to an existing TV/VCR. So you can buy the whole thing for about $100-150.

Other Options : Wireless cameras are also available, but you need a power source like a solar-powered battery, I'm sure not sure what their reach is, and there may be Internet interference issues. Some color cameras are apparently not ready for prime time inside a nestbox, as they require more light, although some folks use them with a set up that allows sufficient light into the box. But I expect the technology to advance quickly.

    sells a wireless nestbox or bird feeder camera with solar power. Their website says the Infrared LEDs are stronger than similar cameras, but the video samples look similar to what I get on the Sam's Club camera although the streaming version online looks better. They also have systems with motion detection, snapshot and scheduled video recording. It connects to a computer via a wireless router. It can transmit a signal 300 feet (depending on the type and quality of the router), but they recommend 100 feet for a consistent signal. was made with a Linksys wireless camera (Model WVC54GC) that transmits to a computer. It needs 120 VAC power. Linksys also makes a WVC54GCA model that comes with audio and video. However, these cameras do not have LED lights/infrared for illumination. The box is tall, and top part of the nestbox door is open for ventilation and illumination, with a grate over it. (A nestbox with an open roof nestbox is no longer recommended by NABS due to concerns about hypothermia and overheating.) See blog. with solar power - shows a clever set up.
  • NY Wild's Purple Martin cam uses an extreme wide angle weatherproof bulletcam suspended in the gourd on the same metal rod that holds the gourd. The camera is held in position by plastic screws threaded into the top of the gourd. The internal cardboard backing of the clean out cap was removed to allow the translucency of the white plastic cap to provide soft interior illumination needed for color video. Cambrosia software is used to upload images to their website. 78 Sam's Club online sells a cheap color infrared indoor camera (Wisecom - $40 + shipping) which I have also tried. When there is not much light (like inside a regular box) the infrared kicks in and it is black & white. The detail is clear and the sound is great, and I would say it is equivalent to the Birdhouse Spycam. However, in year 1 it flickered. I got a second one and it has also malfunctioned, so I don't recommend it. They also sell a pricey time lapse VCR that records for a month.
  • A friend is using a wide-angle color Weldex model # 7500C Dome security camera (minus the dome) with good results, even though it's not infrared. sells a pre-installed wireless color camera that can be hooked up to a TV or a newer computer if it comes with TV-style RCA video/audio jacks. It's infrared, but to get color, you turn on visible light diodes. Although it's wireless, you still need power to the house to operate the camera and transmitter.

Streaming Video Online : There are some wonderful snapshot and streaming video nestcams online. Check out the list below. These nest/webcams are set up to deliver video live (in real time), 24/7 via in the Internet in what is called a "stream." I have never done this, but Susan Halpin at Purple Martins R-Us uses a Lorex Dmc2161 Long-Range Indoor/Outdoor PC Camera With Night Vision, item number 79903 (reviews on null for this camera are not positive, but Susan has had good luck with it, especially since her computer is older and she needed an external video grabber. She had good luck with their tech support.) It comes with software that allows you to record and broadcast. You connect the camera to your computer, register the IP with a streaming service, download their encoder (to protect your computer), set up your audit and video settings, and you can stream. If you want to broadcast it over the Internet so others with a computer can view it, you will need to set up a website, and get the stream to show up on a webpage. I'm sure there are many other options to do this.

  • S treaming can be really expensive - on the order of hundreds to thousands of dollars/month, depending on the amount of bandwidth used, whether it shuts down automatically or not, etc. Many cams rely on donations to help cover these expenses.
  • Free streaming services: justin.tv, ustream.tv, camstreams.com or just.tv. I can't vouch for any of these, I just know some birders use them. Only use a reliable site - you don't want to end up downloading viruses. Some work better if you have a static IP address, and have more trouble with dynamically assigned IP addresses.
  • A not free service used by Cornell: http://www.streamguys.com.
  • Streaming using an encode program (to get the best looking video to the streaming server) may hog your CPU and slow your computer down a lot.
  • A "smart-box" is a DVR-driven computer that can be remotely configured to connect to the Internet and handle streaming.

Wildlife Cams : There are also weatherproof, infrared motion-activated "game" cameras that can monitor the area outside of a nestbox. They can take night and day pictures with a variety of sequence and timing options. They can be set to take only one picture every few minutes. They are expensive though. Most are very wide angle and will not focus well up close. See example. (Thanks to Kenny Kleinpeter for info).

  • The "NovaBird" digital infrared motion sensitive bird cam is able to focus at 15" so you can get close up pictures outside a nestbox, or at a feeder or bath. It is not a live cam. It can be mounted on a tripod or piece of rebar. I did not have good luck with the outdoor battery, so ended up plugging it in. See my birdcam setup.
  • Yvonne Bordelon has a Moultrie Feeder Wildlife Cam available from Walmart at just under $100.00. It will take photos, day and night, but must be at least 4 ft. away from the subject. The photos and video clips are stored in the camera or on an SD card. The battery is supposed to last for 30 days, but has only lasted for less than a week for them. The more it is triggered, the quicker it goes down. also makes one that can focus 18" or farther out.

Our Installation : We were happily surprised by a late titmouse nesting in a box near the house. I don't get many titmice nesting. Since they may be somewhat more sensitive to monitoring than bluebirds, I liked the idea of monitoring via nestcam. We waited until several eggs were laid, and then got our plan and gear together to quickly install the camera on 06/15/06.

We drilled a 5/16" hole in the side of the nestbox (as there was no vent to feed the cable through - it has little slit vents down below) and one in the roof (with a long toggle bolt to mount the camera), fed the cable line through, hooked it up to power and the TV and focused it and Voila, Reality Bird TV!

By the way, I never use a drill or electric screwdriver on a box with eggs in it - I'm worried about addling. We placed the nest and eggs in a shoe box during the installation, which took about 5 minutes.

Even my husband was awed. When he saw the live feed, he said "I don't get wowed too often, but that's pretty cool!" It is such an intimate experience. We found ourselves whispering at first until we realized she couldn't hear us from 100 feet away.

Lessons Learned : A few problems:

  • In 2009, we put a nestcam up in a box that had been used every year by bluebirds. They moved elsewhere after checking it out. Tree Swallows also avoided the box. When the cam was removed, it was immediately used by Tree Swallows.
  • Gilwoods don't have much room for a cam on the roof.
  • It is DEFINITELY easier to install a cam on a box that has a removable/opening roof. Otherwise, get a long screwdriver.
  • The titmouse nest was shallow and the eggs were right up against the door. We didn't realize she was already incubating (there were only 4 eggs.) When we knocked on the box, she didn't fly out. We opened the door and she flew out, and knocked one egg onto the ground and it broke! %#*&#$*.
  • We got the camera installed in about 5 minutes, but it wasn't in focus. We had to disturb her one more time. Doug and I tried shouting back and forth while focusing it and didn't get it quite right, so we will have to try again tomorrow. Best to use something with writing on it, and walkie talkies.
  • Since the box the titmouse chose is not that deep, and the nest is high, you can't see the whole interior of the box on the TV. A bigger, deeper box like the Texas Bluebird Society nestbox would probably be better. Since that box comes with ventilation slots on either end, and the roof unscrews, installation is much easier. I kind of wish we had mounted it onto the BACK of the box, because I'm thinking when the eggs hatch and the female is feeding all we will see is the back of her head.
  • This SpyCam is not weatherproof, so if you drill a hole through the roof to install it, make sure the hole is sealed completely (e.g., with Mortite) to keep both camera and nest dry.
  • Unless your box is really close to the house, definitely buy extra cable, and hook it up to a VCR, or buy the hookup for a computer. You won't want to miss anything.
  • The cable can be buried or put in a PVC tube. We will have to be VERY careful not to mow it over. I like the idea of stringing it up higher through trees so you can't miss it.
  • After hooking up the camera, I had to reinstall the Ulead VideoStudio 9.0 Movie Wizard software to get the video capture to work (keeping getting an "Capture Module Initialization Failed. Failed to build a preview graph" error message.) You can not run two video capture software programs simultaneously (like Video Grabber and Ulead or Windows Movie Maker.)
  • When recording video, I have trouble getting the software to pick up the sound inside the nestbox (instead it seems to pick up sounds in my office!) Warning: If you are already addicted to bluebirding, or tend to get too attached to a nesting family, a nestcam will probably increase that by an order of magnitude. Be careful not to become a total nestbox micromanager and interfere too much - you may do more harm than good. See Why We Get Goopy Over Bluebirds and Bluebirding Blues.

NESTCAMS ONLINE. I'm focusing the list to bluebird house birds. Streaming cams will only be active during nesting season. You won't be able to see anything outside during the night time for a cam pointed at a nest/nestbox from the outside, but an infrared nestcam on the inside of the box will have a picture 24/7. A LOT OF THESE LINKS ARE NOT UPDATED, AND MAY BREAK

  • Joe LeDoux from Decauter, GA: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU1I9AUjQ0yOMiYzCmsu85g?view_as=subscriber - various species. Slide show on how to set up a nestcam: http://nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/installing-a-nest-box-camera/ , James, 2016
  • Leor in Georgia - Facebook diary with screen shots and videos in 2012 - 2013 - Spike O'Dell in TN - bluebirds in 2010 - nice color, bluebirds in 2010 - Trendnet IP-100W-N camera in a PVC enclosure with 6 low power infrared LEDS in box - Barn Owl 2010 2010 (Penney Reitrement Community) - live as of 04/2010 - click on bluebird photo to access - EABL - not currently live - Carolina Chickadee nestcam in 2010 in Suwanee, GA in Georgia - YouTube videos and detailed blog. - password and username are both "guest." Nice color. Feed is a bit choppy at times. Wireless.
  • Tony's St. Augustine FL EABLs - bluebirds, woodpeckers, flying squirrels etc. - still shots only (discontinued, darn! but they have some still shots) - NY Wild. Not streaming - snapshots updated every 30 seconds. , Purplemartin.tv - may not work with Media Player.
  • If you know of others, please contact me.
  • A neat video from nestcam footage is Bluebirds Inside the Nestbox, by the North Carolina Bluebird Society. May be purchased online directly from The North Carolina Bluebird Society as a VHS tape or a DVD for $13.85, including shipping quantity discounts are available. Also available for a $20 donation to Cornell Nestbox Cams. 15 minutes. - streaming of Great Crested Flycatcher nestbox - also on Cornell website - 9 minute color video from nestcam footage, from house hunting to fledging. Super. Shot with a Logitech Webcam - Quickcam for Notebooks Pro. See camera and installation details (click on thumbnails.) See other webcam clips from the Murrays. - still shots and video clips (04/09/07 one of her making a blanket over eggs is interesting) bluebirds feeding and removing fecal sacs from a Bo Villa (PUMA) nestbox. (some taken with nestcams)
  • My nestcam blogs from 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009
  • How to capture video with Windows Movie Maker (don't forget the S after camstream!) for more info about live cams and free broadcasting. Also ustream.tv.

I watched the mother build the nest, lay the eggs, sit on the eggs for long hours. I saw one of the babies in the final stages of hatching and two more after they had just hatched. They've done all that on my TV, in my living room, in my world. Their world and my world are together for now.
- Linda Moore, Bluebirding Forum, 2006

May all your blues be birds!

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Lesson 1: Motivating the cat with food

The goal of lesson 1 is to have an initial positive interaction with the cat. Offering food can bring about positive interaction from a very shy or aggressive cat, but keep in mind that not all cats are motivated by food. To find out if a cat is food-motivated, place a small amount of baby food or deli meat on the end of a wand (the end without the feathers or cloth).

Slowly move the food tip of the wand about halfway into the cage, resting the wand just past the far edge of the cat box. Wait to see if the cat will smell or lick the food. If not, slowly move the wand toward the cat’s nose. You want the cat to lick – not bite – the baby food or gently eat the deli meat. This may take some practice on the cat’s part.

Even if the cat is food-motivated, he may not want to accept any food from you in the beginning. In that case, go to step 2, but continue to offer the baby food or deli meat on the wand at the beginning of each session. One day, the kitty may surprise you!

Give the cat a treat every time you finish a session. The cat will come to associate a positive outcome (a treat) with your interaction. The treat can be a teaspoon of baby food, deli meat or tuna. In the beginning, before you’ve established trust, the cat will most likely eat the treat after you have left the area.

If you are working with a food-motivated cat and you are using deli meat or another type of meat during the sessions, you’ll need to watch for meat aggressiveness. This behavior can occur when the cat is becoming more comfortable with the sessions, but it can also happen in the beginning.

Whenever you offer a food-motivated cat a piece of meat (from a wand, gloved hand or bare hand), notice how the cat takes it. If the cat is meat-aggressive, he’ll grab it, possibly growling while he’s eating or after he eats the meat. When you come back into the cage using a wand or your hand, the cat might grab at your hand, sometimes growling and threatening to bite. Test the cat by going back into the cage with another piece of meat.

If the cat seems even more aggressive about the meat, don’t use meat to work with the cat. The aggressive behavior will only get worse and the cat will stop interacting positively with you. For the meat-aggressive cat, use only baby food as treats. Baby food has to be licked and it seems to work better with meat-aggressive cats.


Problems with Ozone Generators and Ionizers that Produce Ozone

Ozone is a potent lung irritant and exposure to elevated levels is a contributor to the exacerbation of lung disease it is especially dangerous for persons with asthma and other chronic lung diseases, children and the elderly.
American Lung Association (http://www.lungusa.org)

Residential indoor ozone is produced directly by ozone generators and indirectly by ion generators and some other electronic air cleaners. There is no difference, despite some manufacturers’ claims, between outdoor ozone and ozone produced by these devices.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has done extensive research of the most credible scientific information available on the effects of ozone and the devices that generate ozone. This can be found at www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/ozonegen.html. The following is an excerpt from this document.

What is ozone?

Ozone is a molecule composed of three atoms of oxygen. Two atoms of oxygen form the basic oxygen molecule — the oxygen we breathe that is essential to life. The third oxygen atom can detach from the ozone molecule, and re-attach to molecules of other substances, thereby altering their chemical composition. It is this ability to react with other substances that forms the basis of manufacturers’ claims.

How is ozone harmful?

The same properties that allow high concentrations of ozone to react with organic matter outside the body give it the ability to react with similar organic matter that makes up the body, and potentially cause harmful health consequences. When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and throat irritation. Ozone may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections. People vary widely in their susceptibility to ozone. Healthy people, as well as those with respiratory difficulty can experience breathing problems with exposure to ozone. Exercise during exposure to ozone causes a greater amount of ozone to be inhaled, and increases the risk of harmful respiratory effects. Recovery from the harmful effects can occur following short-term exposure to low levels of ozone, but health effects may become more damaging and recovery less certain at higher levels or from longer exposures (US EPA, 1996a, 1996b).

Are ozone generators effective at controlling indoor air pollution?

Available scientific evidence shows that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone has little potential to remove indoor contaminants. First, a review of scientific research shows that for many of the chemicals found in indoor environments the reaction process with ozone may take months or years (Boeniger, 1995). Second, for many chemicals with which ozone does readily react, the reaction can form a variety of harmful or irritating by-products (Weschler et al., 1992a,1992b,1996 Zhang and Lioy, 1994). Machines that generate ozone are not effective in removing carbon monoxide (Salls, 1927 Shaughnessy et al., 1994) or formaldehyde (Esswein and Boeniger, 1994). In fact, when tested on new carpet odors and gasses, the reaction with ozone actually increased the number of aldehydes and volatile organic compounds (Weschler et al., 1992). Some of these new compounds created through the reaction with ozone are very reactive, irritating and a potential health threat. Third, ozone does not remove particles (e.g., dust and pollen) from the air, including the particles that cause most allergies. However, some machines that generate ozone also produce ions. An ionizer is a device that disperses negatively (and/or positively) charged ions into the air. These ions attach to particles in the air giving them a negative or positive charge so that the particles may attach to nearby surfaces such as walls, furniture or each other and settle out of the air. Some units also have internal “plates” that help gather particles. In recent experiments, ionizers were found to be less effective in removing particles of dust, tobacco smoke, pollen or mold spores than either HEPA filters or electrostatic precipitators. (Shaughnessy et. al, 1994)

If a machine does not emit more than 50 parts per billion allowed by the EPA, can it still be harmful?

Yes, there is no “safe” level of ozone. For many people, even at the 50 parts per billion of ozone allowed by the EPA, exposure far exceeds the tolerance level.

However, there are also other factors that contribute to ozone levels. First is the size of the room where the machine generating ozone is being used. In one study a machine run in a 350 square foot room generated ozone counts in the room of 500 to 800 parts per billion — ten times the allowable limit. Second, indoor air generally contains some ozone — particularly when ozone is at high levels in the outdoor environment. Indoor ozone concentrations generally run at 10 to 20 parts per billion, but can be as high as 30 to 50 parts per billion. When you add the ozone coming from a machine, it would most certainly exceed allowable limits. Third, the simultaneous use of multiple devices greatly increases the total ozone output and therefore greatly increases the risk of excessive exposure.

The US Food and Drug Administration also addresses the issue of the labeling of machines that generate ozone. In the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Volume 8, Part 801 (www.fda.gov) it states:

“A number of devices currently on the market generate ozone by design or as a byproduct. Since exposure to ozone above a certain concentration can be injurious to health, any such device will be considered adulterated and/or misbranded within the meaning of sections 501 and 502 of the act if it is used or intended for use under the following conditions: