One of our main goals in designing our furniture is with the thought of keeping cats’ minds active by enriching their environment, which helps with a multitude of behavior problems. The first piece we ever built, and our cats’ favorite piece, was an Indiana Jones-style cat bridge. We decided to create a large version of this for two rescued Tigers at Black Pine Animal Sanctuary.
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Mike’s sister Kate is an animal behavior specialist, and works with exotic animal rescues. She is constantly trying to find creative ways to keep the animals’ lives enriched, much like we do with house cats. We thought it would be a great idea to translate what we do to what Kate does, and build one of our bridges on a much larger scale. We began researching well-accredited animal sanctuaries we could make a donation to.
Black Pine Animal Sanctuary is an animal rescue that saves a lot of animals from circuses, zoos, and private owners who got in over their heads. Black Pine doesn’t declaw their cats, and they don’t breed the animals, to keep new animals from being born into in captivity. They also don’t make the mistake of allowing any public in direct contact with the animals, although people are welcome to visit and observe. All of their animals live at the sanctuary for the rest of their lives.
We were thrilled to hear that our giant cat bridge idea was something Black Pine was into as well. We worked with Lori and Amy, who were incredibly kind and welcoming. They showed us around the sanctuary and brought us to one of the tiger enclosures they had in mind, which housed Top Cat and Millie. Both of these tigers are four years old; Millie is a beautiful Indo-Chinese and Top Cat is a handsome Sumatran. With both of the tigers being young and having a high energy level, we thought they would be a perfect fit for our bridge.
We documented the process of building and installing the platforms to share. Huge thanks to everybody who helped out and to the folks at Black Pine Animal Sanctuary. Extra big thanks to Amy, who stayed late a couple days to let us finish up the construction. This was such an amazing experience.
Building the Tiger Bridge
Because of the tigers having the combined weight of around 700 lbs, we wanted to be sure we were going strong enough with everything. We went with 1″x 3′ planks of various widths, and routed out slots so that the boards could lay over three wires. We also coated the whole bridge in non-toxic, animal-safe waterproofing.
In place of the knots that we put between slats in our bridges for house cats, we added bumpers to each side, to make sure they wouldn’t pinch the tigers’ feet. Next, on half of the planks, we added eye bolts large enough to fit the roping through.
We used 6″x6″ treated posts to hold each corner of the platforms up and to anchor the support wire from.
To hold the planks we used 3/8″ wire with three galvanized wire rope clips on each end to create the loops. Each side was also given a galvanized turnbuckle to add tension to each wire after we had the planks on.
Using a 12″ auger, we dug the holes, making especially sure not to get our bodies caught in the blades after seeing the most disturbing danger sign ever.
Tigers on the bridge
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