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Thursday, May 5, 2016

The cat cottage

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gayle Bailey poses with Tudie, one of five cats with their own house in a converted corn crib on her Everly farmstead. Behind Bailey is the chicken coop built by her husband Bryan. The spot offers a place for the felines to take cat naps.
(Photo by Michael Fischer)
When Gayle Bailey calls, "Bay-bee," Tudie, Callie, Pumpkin, Daisy and Midnight come running home.

The five outdoor cats' home, referred to as "the cat cottage," is situated in a converted corn and bean bin on the rural Everly century farm owned by Bryan and Gayle Bailey.

Work on the feline abode started at the prompting of Jo Engel, a former painting partner of Gayle Bailey's who introduced her to the long-haired calico Tudie, also known as Mrs. Congeniality, and Callie, her long-haired daughter who meows if she thinks she's going to get some food.

Shortly after settling into their new home on the Bailey farm, Tudie gave birth to three more kittens. Pumpkin, referred to as Mr. Personality, is very curious and openly talks to his owner. Daisy is a gray, short-haired feline. Their brother Midnight is pure black, spooks easily but becomes a "Velcro cat" once trust is established.

A sign warning visitors of cats sits in front of the converted corn crib housing five of Gayle Bailey's eight cats. The climate-controlled cat cottage has a sleeping area as well as plenty of play area for the cats.
(Photo by Michael Fischer)
Their home's interior began taking shape nearly five years ago, when a wall was knocked out between two of the three bean bins on the crib's west side. While Bailey's cats inhabit two of the gutted and renovated sections today, the crib's southern most area is used for storage.

To make it more cozy for them, Bryan Bailey installed pressed board, built a six-stall chicken coop for the cats to sleep in and insulated the cat cottage.

"At first, I was running three to four space heaters plus heating pads to keep them warm," Gayle Bailey recalled, "because they were pretty little. I'd come out a couple times each day to make sure they were alright."

As Irv Maaland, the couple's friend, sold them a small heater for the cat cottage, which he continues to light each winter, Bryan Bailey built several ramps for their cats to play on. He also made window ledges for them to rest on and peer outside from, constructed a work bench his wife grooms them on, and installed an air conditioner that is set at 73 degrees during the summer months.

Callie, one of eight cats owned by Gayle Bailey, looks through the window of her custom-made cat house on their farm near Everly. In addition to the renovated crib five cats occupy, the Baileys have three more cats -- Sylvester, Ellie Mae and Petey -- that live inside their home.
(Photo by Michael Fischer)
Dean Anderson, Gayle Bailey's brother, designed and created an indoor playground in the cats' home. The system of bridges and steps allows all five to run around the room without touching the floor. It also includes a cat tree, several scratching posts and a carpeted box Pumpkin prefers.

"If he knows I'm over here, he'll run because he just loves to be petted in here," Bailey said as she scratched under the cat's chin.

While a cupola and cat-friendly landscaping mark the cottage's exterior, feline-friendly fixtures decorate its interior. A framed sign stating, "It's the cat's house. We just pay the mortgage," is stationed under a cat clock on one wall. Pictures of all five cats and "Cats are connoisseurs of comfort" are scrawled across another cottage wall.

The Baileys' spayed and neutered cats, meanwhile, are trained to enter and exit their residence through a swinging kitty door.

"Or when I let them," Bailey clarified. "If it's hot like this, I pick and choose when they are to go out. It's been so hot lately, I just feel it's probably better for them to stay in. ... Other than that, if it's pouring rain, then they stay in."

Tudie, Callie, Pumpkin, Daisy and Midnight are generally let out of the cat cottage in the morning. When the "Bay-bee" call is heard, they come running from wherever they are on the Bailey farm to receive treats. They're also petted and praised.

Gayle Bailey of Everly poses with Pumpkin in the custom cat cottage on their farm near Everly. Behind Bailey is a work area that includes grooming items for the cats.
(Photo by Michael Fischer)
For their owner, the cat cottage has become a sanctuary of sorts.

"Everybody has a hobby and this is mine," Gayle Bailey said. "I wanted this to be like a little cottage. It's also my little getaway. I end up spending a lot of time out here cleaning, holding, petting, rearranging, talking on the phone, just sitting and getting ideas."

The bright, country-adorned cat cottage has also been deemed "a work always in progress" by the Baileys. Redoing the interior's purple-and-white gingham curtains and birdhouse barn quilt are scheduled to someday complement the sliding doors and new cement in the alleyway added to the converted crib this year.

"That's going to be another work in progress. At some point, I want to do some faux painting on that cement to make it look like firestone," Bailey said of her alleyway plans. "I enjoy adding to it. This is my fun."

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this is wonderful--I just hope she gets them tested for feline leukemia-I just lost my purebred cat and kittens to it. There is a vaccine for it if they don't have the leukemia -is very contagious. Even though they are outside cats-I am a firm believer in spay and neuter,and also yearly vet checks. Best thing for the cats

-- Posted by iowagirl on Sat, Aug 6, 2011, at 4:51 PM

Agree with iowachick.

-- Posted by Iowachick on Sun, Aug 7, 2011, at 9:59 AM

gotta love those cats i have five cats ana wouldn't give any up.

-- Posted by arlene stewart on Mon, Aug 8, 2011, at 11:13 PM

This is a great story! What a great family these cats have. They are VERY lucky felines! Would love to see their cat cottage in person. It sounds fabulous!

-- Posted by puppyluv on Wed, Aug 10, 2011, at 9:43 AM

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