“My dad built a cataquarium for Thanksgiving,” Reddit user ericscheel wrote on a post shared over 4,000 times this holiday weekend, explaining that his dad lives on a farm and likes cats. In typical Reddit fashion, Reddit users were quick to point out that there is no water in said “cataquarium,” so the terminology is less than accurate.
Another term coined to correct the original user was catterrarium. Catterrarium, cataquarium, or full pedant felinarium aside, building outdoor cat shelters is certainly a hobby for many feral cat lovers.
When coupled with trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs, homemade cat shelters not only keep feral cats warm and dry, but help control the overall cat population by keeping current colony cats healthy and safe, according to literature from Alley Cat Allies, a non-profit organization devoted to caring for feral cats. The organization’s representatives say that catch-and-kill programs do not work to control the feral cat population because it simply creates a vacuum effect.
“Outdoor cats have existed alongside humans for 10,000 years,” according to Alley Cat Allies’ website. “They are not a new phenomenon. Feral and stray cats live and thrive in every landscape, from the inner city to rural farmland.”
Still, providing a warm dry cat shelter (like the cataquarium that so many people are talking about) is very helpful at maintaining the health of any feral cat colony, the organization says. Some people purchase ready-made cat shelters for the winter months, but others build their own cat shelters. Alley Cat Allies has many suggestions and options for winter cat shelters, many of them even warmer (though less entertaining for the cats’ two-legged servants) than the cataquarium above.
One great thing people are mentioning about the cataquarium featured on Reddit is that the entire family can keep a close eye on the cats’ well-being. If a cat is sick or injured, the caregivers of the colony can take steps to help the sick or injured feral cat.
“He mounted it against his window so the inside of it was visible from inside the house. It’s like having his own kitty tv channel,” explained Three Million Dogs‘ author Jarrett McGibney of the featured cataquarium. Cats do get curious about people, colony caregivers say. Provided they feel safe and have an easy means of escape, cats may be inclined to use a cataquarium like the one above and even find watching humans entertaining themselves. Like one Reddit user in the current top spot speculates: Whether the featured cat shelter is a cataquarium or a humanarium might just depend on which side of the window you are sitting on.