We have 3 cats and 2 dogs. Our dogs are fed twice a day, but the cats have an all-you-can-eat buffet always available.
Our nearby neighbours have a total of 1 dog and about half a dozen cats. Some of those cats like to visit in the dark of night, once everyone else is in bed, and have a good feed.
The other night, in bed, I could hear a cat munching biscuits. After a while I realised the munching was going on for much longer than it takes our cats to eat.
I got out of bed, forgetting to put my glasses on and stealthily headed for the kitchen, in the dark. I heard the thump of a cat jumping down from the chest of drawers the bowl of biscuits sits on, followed by the thock of the catflap. All I saw was a possibly ginger shape on the deck in the darkness.
My suspicion was that the Dine And Dasher was Murphee, a very handsome and friendly ginger boy who’s not too happy about the large and bouncy Labradoodle that now lives at his place and eats his dinners.
Now I’m not so sure. Or at least, I’m sure it’s Murphee, but it seems to be other local cats too, as this video shows. I speeded up the action 250% and pulled in just 3 clips from a night’s recording, to make a video less than 1 minute long.
What do you think? The first cat’s Murphee, and I’m pretty sure the second cat is a different one, but what about number 3? The more I watch the video, the more I think he’s not Murphee, but someone else.
The Cat Cam
I wanted to find out exactly what was going on, so I set up the Cat Cam that produced the heavily edited video above. To set up the Cat Cam I used:
- bedside lamp
- electrical tape
- a biscuit container
- MacBook computer
- iSight camera
- Evocam software
I plugged the iSight camera into the computer, and then taped the camera into place on a suitable container that gave it height and stability. I plugged in a small lamp to light the cat biscuit area, as I wanted to record overnight. I also closed the curtains and blinds to maintain a more even level of darkness so the camera wouldn’t be affected by light from the moon. A skylight remained uncovered though.
I pointed the camera at the bowl of cat biscuits and moved it to a position where it would capture both the bowl and a small space around it.
I called up the Evocam software on the computer and created settings to capture images and video when the camera detected motion. I entered details for an FTP server where the images and videos would be uploaded. I also saved the still images and video to the computer.
With everything in place, and after a bit of testing and adjustment I went to bed.
It wasn’t long before the first cat came to call. As I was still awake I used my iPod touch to check the web page. Sure enough, a rather blurry ginger cat was eating biscuits. I hope the video was being recorded.
This morning I viewed the video and the still images. They showed that the cat bowl was visited regularly throughout the night. On 3 separate occasions those visits were by ginger cats. All our cats are black, so it was easy to spot the intruders.
Unfortunately, none of the images are very good, and I don’t have the ‘magic’ software they have on TV shows to just zoom in at high resolution, or to map points from one image to another and show that it is or is not the same cat.
I could try some more cat cam, and see if I can position the camera or the lights a bit better. Or maybe I could set it to ‘watch’ the cat flap and capture an image as the cat passes through.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from anyone who has one of the new-style catflaps that reads an animal’s microchip and grants or denies access only to ‘authorised’ users.