Including Nick. When he first showed up in our lives, he insisted on going outside (and stressed to point by refusing to use the cat box indoors). We are an indoor-cat family, so I fought the good battle for awhile, but I lost. I began by letting him out in the morning, bringing him in before I went to work at I.C., letting him out when I got home from work, then bringing him in at dark.
He soon learned NOT to come back at work time, and he periodically insisted on staying out all night. I slept on the couch on these nights, getting up now and then to check the front porch for him. He would insist on remaining outside all day even in the most frigid of winter days. If he got too cold, he would simply find some at-home neighbor, usually retired, and peer plantively in their window or sliding glass door until they let him in. Seeing he had a tag, they would just let him out again when he wanted to leave. Nick found "soft touches" in both places we've lived with him.
It's pretty embarrassing, when your cat goes missing during bad weather, to have to trudge through foot-deep snow to someone else's house and ask "Hi, is my cat here?" And there's Nick, curled up warm and dry by the neighbor's gas fireplace. It's like fetching your kid home at dinner time.
But Nick is getting older. The temperatures just dropped to the 40s, and I looked out the door the other morning to find him huddled up against it, asking to come in. He came in twice that day, and even spent a few hours snoozing before going out again. He almost always comes home at night now, even early. He only stayed out late three or four times this summer.
After the "huddled against the door" incident, I figured it was time Nick had a place on the porch where he could really get out of the weather, in case I didn't notice him out there asking to get in. Usually one of the other cats sees him out there and paws the window (all the cats get treats when Nick comes home), but during the day they are often all asleep, and no one notices the poor old guy.
So today Nick got his very own cat shelter on the porch. And it's right next to an outlet so I can plug in a heating pad in the winter.
I had a smaller box with one door on the porch a few years ago, but he refused to use it, probably because it's no fun being in a box with one exit when a raccoon sticks its head in. We'll see what he thinks of this two-door version that we make for the ferals.
The second door is on the end, at the left. People keep begging me to put the directions for building these on my website, and I really need to. They can be made from one single piece of plywood, cut in simple strips. They are much easier for non-carpenters to put together. You can cut a bunch of them out, and the pieces store easily for future assembly. They just look like storage boxes, so no one really pays attention to them behind the local McDonalds (although I put mine up on legs to reduce wildife issues). They don't scream "A Cat Lives Here!" They aren't pretty, but they do the job. The problem is, the dimensions vary for us depending on what we use to hold it all together (1x1s, 1x2s, even 1x4s--whatever is kicking around) so I haven't worked out the actual plans.
Fall is here. Winter is close behind.