Central Saanich man gives cats freedom with cat enclosures

With Catscape, cats can still have freedom of the outdoors without being injured.

A cat looks out from its ‘catio’ at The Cattery.

Cats can still have the freedom to be cats by being kept indoors safely with Catscape.

Owned by John Creviston of Brentwood Bay, Catscape Beautiful World Living Environments allows cats to still enjoy the outdoors by being indoor cats.

“Their lifespan is definitely longer if they’re indoors or contained because cars take a terrible toll,” he told the PNR.

Creviston said there’s two main responsibilities when it comes to owning a cat. One is to the neighbours and wildlife and the second is to the animal itself, to ensure its welfare.

“You still want to provide a quality of life and that’s one thing people are concerned about,” he said.

He said people are concerned that if their cat stays indoors it will lose its quality of life and won’t be able to do what it wants and just be a cat. He said that’s not necessarily true.

In response to a community town hall meeting held last month, the topic of stray cats was raised. The main complaints were that cats ruin people’s lawns and the cat’s safety on roads. Creviston said one can’t always identify them as stray, but that there are quite a few groups that do rescues of feral cats and operate in feral cat colonies.

Creviston currently builds his cat enclosures for safety reasons. He builds them all across the Island, mainland and even into Alberta.

Often times, they are built from a window.

“The reason for that is because, depending on the window, in most cases I don’t have to alter the house or put a hole in the wall,” he said.

It also allows for the cat to have the freedom to choose — and the owner doesn’t have to be constantly opening the door.

Creviston’s background is in the zoo and aquarium world. He was also a curator at the Crystal Garden and worked for the SPCA’s Wild Arc animal rehabilitation program for some time. While there, he said he saw lots of small birds and mammals being brought in that were injured by cats.

“We weren’t, at the SPCA, great about giving people options, just telling them they shouldn’t let the cats do that,” he said.

When he left there he started Catscape in 2009, which are outdoor cat enclosures for indoor cats.

“Every single one is different…” said Creviston.

In some cases, he said, they are actually living spaces for people.

He said one woman he did some work for enclosed her whole patio and had a roof put on, acting as an additional living space, usable for more of the year.

One of his many customers is Lornna Olson, owner of The Cattery, a boarding kennel for cats.

Olson’s boarding facility has cat enclosures all throughout attached to windows and the garage.

She calls some of them catios (a play on the word patio).

“It’s awesome. There’s a huge demand for the deluxe,” she said.

Creviston added the enclosures for Olson a few years ago and she plans on adding about one a year. Creviston said the quality of the space might be invisible to humans, but it makes a big difference to the cat.

And it matters where they’re placed.

“I could build the same enclosure attached to a house or across the yard … psychologically that makes a huge difference,” he said.

The cat, he said, has the freedom to choose and go where they want and when they want versus being packed up and put some place.

In response to that Central Saanich town hall meeting, where residents expressed their concerns on what they called stray cats, Creviston said he doesn’t think the pressure is there yet for Central Saanich, in terms of enforcing bylaws.

Some of the most common complaints he’s heard from residents are pertaining to cats pooping in their garden.

“That’s the biggest reason people have issues with other people’s cats and some people don’t like cats being out getting birds,” he said.

When he grew up, he said it was customary to let dogs go outside unless you were in the heart of a city. They would go do their business and returned home at supper time.

“You don’t see that anymore. You haven’t seen that for a long, long time … we’re not quite there yet with cats but we’re getting there.”

For more details visit catscape.ca.

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