Part 12 ~ The Mad Max Catio ~ Phase 1

The Mad Max Catio ~ Part 1

We knew we needed to change the back of the bus dramatically to make it not only escape proof but also accessible from the inside! So the Mad Max Catio was born 🙂

We had two obstacles that prevented it from being escape proof!

Since we knew we were stationary until the escape proof part was completed, that’s where Zach started

~ The No Escape Plan ~

First, the back deck! In driving mode, it’s folded up and secured and then in park mode, it can be lowered to make a deck. It worked, until we needed to keep sneaky, slinky cats from going through the openings on the sides. Zach needed to not only create an insert to close the gap from the back deck part to the top, he had to secure the sides as well!

We needed this entire back section to be 100% escape proof!

Deck In Drive Position
Deck in Park Position

Second, the lift! Another area with large gaps for kitties to slip through! Zach had to create a plate to attach to the sides of the lift that created an enclosed side when in the driving position. 

Lift in Driving Position
Lift almost in park position!

Above all, safety is key! So here is how Zach made our kitties safe!


Here’s What He Did

First and foremost, we needed metal! Which would be super easy if we had a truck! But we found a great company in Oklahoma that not only delivered, but the price point was, well, on point! If you need metal in the Indiahoma, Oklahoma area, check these guys out! Click the metal cat trio to check them out!

Mad Max Catio Technical….

Zach built some basic hinges to support the top enclosure section so that it can be opened when we are stationary. The top enclosure is made of angle iron and expanded metal. It closes and then the lower deck folds closed, locking and sealing it up. The expanded metal that is attached to the bottom of the lift is just that, attached. He used inch and a half angle iron to prevent any escape. 

Basic Hinges
Fully closed top section

Random pics of his build time 🙂 ⬇

Now I know that statement above made sense to him, and to others as well! For me, it’s all about the finished product, I trust Zach and his designs!

I also firmly believe that I have the capacity in my brain for a certain amount of knowledge, so if Zach has that knowledge to build a catio, there’s no need for me to also have that knowledge! I know other things, like toilet paper math 😆  and baking science 🎂

Finally,the finished product! At least for phase 1! Being fully enclosed was the main goal, and we wanted to get going to our next destination before we started Phase 2 of the Catio Project!  That is coming soon!! They will be able to go in and out of the bus without getting down on the ground! Of course, that’s if we don’t want them down! We have some alternate means of getting down planned, that can be in use or hidden away!! 

There are a few more things that need tweaking, like holding the insert in the up position when we have the deck down! But it’s an easy fix!

The lift has wings now 🙂

Zach added in metal sides so that when it is in the up position, it lays flush, creating a seal!  Probably my most favorite part 😬

Last but not least, Our littlest guy loves to be in the middle of the action! He was Zach’s right hand kitty! He is polydactyl on his two front paws, but still couldn’t manage to hand Zach the tools he needed!😂

Mad Max Catio
Phil Loves to Help!

Stay tuned for more Mad Max Catio Phases….

Missed a few parts of the story?? Catch up here!!

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 9.5 Part 10 Part 11 

Love the hats we wear? Zach makes them! Check out his work here

Part 11 ~ Mad Dash To Arizona

Mad Dash To Arizona

We headed out of Oklahoma! We were planning on meeting friends out in Quartzsite, Arizona so we just put in day after day of travel! Why I thought we needed to make this mad dash to Arizona is a mystery, but I was driven to getting to Arizona!

Maybe I was ready for a good rest. A warm, friend filled zone of rest ..

Since Zach can drive around 150 miles before he needs to pull over for a leg-stretching break, we try and leave early in the morning. Once he has his stretch, then he can drive another 150-ish miles before it’s quit for the day!  No complaints here, I don’t drive the bus!

Our first pitstop was in Odessa, Tx to visit a Jack Rabbit!  The World’s Largest Jackrabbit to be exact! Well….former largest! I’ll have to investigate further where the new reigning big guy is!

Mad Dash to Arizona Click Me for More

But it turns out there are a lot of them in town. Guess it’s true what they say about rabbits?! They multiply! Unfortunately, we didn’t allow much time to explore this town and we were in the bus. So we didn’t get any pics of them 🙁 Maybe next time around!

The next few days were spent driving! That’s it! No fun stuff, no huge things, just straight up driving! We got through the rest of Texas and all of New Mexico in a flash!  Crossed the state line into Arizona, and decided to stop at the nearest Harvest Host location just over the Arizona state line.  We planned to stay there 2 nights and then head out to Quartzsite and beyond!

That’s where things went wrong! Terribly, terribly wrong.

Sad Story Alert

From day one, we let our cats free roam. They go in and out all day and night. It’s always been safe for them. And they don’t go far from the bus.

When we arrived at our stay for the night, Zach walked the dogs, which meant the cats also popped out!

Pebbles, Heddy and Scabbers ~ all out to scout!

The Cat Routine

Heddy almost always comes back at dark, and will venture out again during the night for a little bit before requesting to come back in. Scabbers and Pebbles, they are night cats. Preferring to sleep in the bus all day and then go out and hunt bugs at night. Scabbers will come in and out throughout the night, but Pebbles always stays out all night. It’s her time!

The next morning, Pebbles didn’t join Zach and the pups on their morning walk. Something she ALWAYS did. But had on occasion decided to wait until later in the day to come home. By nightfall, she still hadn’t returned, and now we were very worried! Day 2, Day 3… No Pebbles, and we had no more time at this location! Zach rode around and spoke with the neighbors and showed them her picture and let them know where we stayed. The host also knew we were not able to find her. Since we were not going very far, we knew we could easily come back.

Making it to Quartzsite

Finally, we made it over to meet our friends in the area. I started a purge project to keep myself busy and Zach visited with friends.

Where he learned that our cats were never safe outside, even in the daytime. And either was Louie, our Puggle. Coyotes are bad in that area and they come right into camp.

We were in Quartzsite for about an hour.

Mad Dash to Arizona, Reversed!

And then we were on the road again, heading back to Oklahoma!

Was it tough to leave our friends so quickly, of course! But they understood!

First stop was a Second chance at finding Pebbles. A one overnight chance.

We didn’t find her.

Absolutely lost with her being lost! We cried, and cried, and kept our other two cats inside from the moment we found out they were unsafe.

Apart from parking on the side of the road, which we couldn’t do, we had no choice but to head out again without our feisty girl, Pebbles

Just one pitstop ~ to find a roadrunner! We had seen him on the way out to Arizona, but he was on the opposite side of the highway and not easy to get to! So, we stopped on the return trip! He’s really cool! Made of all recycled material!

Mad Dash to Arizona

It took us 5 days to get from Arizona to Oklahoma, just south of Oklahoma City! Five days of non-stop cat crying. Scabbers and Heddy were NOT pleased with the no outside time. But we couldn’t take a chance!

At this time, the catio was born. Zach needed to figure out how to make the back deck still come down to use, as well as the lift. But it needed to be escape proof. He spent some time designing a way to make a cage around the cage. In addition to what is already there! Just needs modification!

When the Mad Dash to Arizona doesn’t work…

This has been the hardest post to write! Our hearts are clearly broken that Pebbles didn’t return to us, not yet anyway! We have not given up hope, and are in contact constantly with the people at the location we were at! I’m thinking she is one of those cats that is trailing us, and will catch up to us soon! Or maybe a sweet little girl found her and fell in love!

The one thing we have learned is that all animals should be microchipped! Slowly working on all animals being chipped in the near future (Louie is already chipped and registered). There’s no blame in any of this, but there are lessons!

 Stay tuned for scenes from our next stop ~ Windy Oklahoma!!

Missed a few parts of the story?? Catch up here!!

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 9.5 Part 10

Love the hats we wear? Zach makes them! Check out his work here

Part 9.5 ~ Our Pets ~ The Insanity

Our Pets

I’ve mentioned our pets here and there in the story, but they are a big part of our lives!

We have 2 dogs ~ Louie and Jemma!  And 4 cats ~ Pebbles, Scabbers, Heddy and Phil!

Let’s start with Louie

Also known as ~ Louis, Lou Dog, Ridiculouie, Louis Navidad 

I adopted Louie in May of 2020, from a rescue in Lake Fort Worth, Florida! He is about 4 years old! 

Next comes Jemma

Also known as ~ Jemma Dilemma, Beetlejuice, the Brown Clown

Zach rescued Jemma from a neighbor who had her tied out, about 2 years ago.  (he had permission to take her with him). She is about 3 years old!

Our first kitty, Pebbles … she is the leader of the Cat Pack! 

Also known as ~ The Queen, the boss, or anything of the like 🙂

Zach adopted Pebbles when she was a baby.  He knew her momma, so he has known Pebbles her whole life

And now for Scabbers .. I only mention him first because he was born first, but Heddy is his sister 🙂

Also Known As ~ Scoober Doo, Oreo, Scoob, Scabber Dabber Doo

I owned his Momma, Milky.   So I’ve had Scabbers since birth!

And that brings us to Heddy

Also Known As ~ Hedwig, Muffin, Toupee, Heddylicious

So as with Scabbers, I’ve had Heddy since birth also. 

So our last little guy is SUPER new ~ Phil

Also Known As ~ Tiny Bits, Philodendron, Phil in the blank

We just adopted Phil from a fellow nomad, Bob!  His cat Smokey is Phil’s momma

So now that you’ve met them, let me tell you more about them as a family of pets.

When Zach and I were headed out on this journey, I had to make a tough decision with Milky, my momma cat. 

The Milky Dilemna

First, before I could get her spayed, she got pregnant again. Not a problem really, since I knew we could take care of them and find good homes. The second problem was that there is no way she would have traveled well. I was fearful she would run off and not come back.

What to do…

I knew a woman who absolutely loved Milky, as much as I did! So I reached out to her and told her the situation and she immediately said she would be happy to have Milky come live with her. As much as I love that cat, I knew it was not best to be selfish and to let her live in one location. I cried, a lot. But she gave birth to 5 kittens the day we set out from Florida!  Talk about timing!!

So that means that Louie has known Scabbers and Heddy since they were born

He’s like a big brother to them

Jemma and Louie were best friends from the moment they met! There was never a growl or mean word between them!

Our Pets

The Dynamic of Our Pets

Now comes the real test!  How do the ALL of the animals get along??  Do they fight or play? Amongst the dogs, the cats, or a mix of cats and dogs fighting??

Nope! Contrary to what most think, they all get along fine ~ despite their species and age differences Well, maybe Pebbles gives the little guys a bit of a rough time, but I think she’s just teaching them!  

So here is our crazy mix of pets, clearly having a blast hanging out with each other!

And of course, Our Pets Videos

And now for some rare footage of Scabbers going into Dog Mode (ok, it’s not rare footage, he plays with them all the time, and we video it almost every time!) This cat is ABSOLUTELY safe during this video, in fact, he started the fight 🙂

And Scabbers has been training the new kitten as well!  He is such a great big brother!

And a couple of random videos of our pets being themselves!

And after a hard day being our pet, Jemma sums it up the best!  Sounds like she is having a good dream

Our pets play a huge role in our lives! We base our stays on where there is safety for them, above all! Our cats like to explore the outdoors, so we need less busy roads, and definitely no predators (there will be times when we can’t guarantee that no predator thing and for that reason, we are building an enclosed catio on the back deck!)


Missed a few parts of the story?? Catch up here!!

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 

Love the hats we wear?  Zach makes them!  Check out his work here

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