We have a bevy of cats and dogs: 3 cats, 2 kittens and 6 dogs (three small mongrels and 3 Dobermans.) Two or three of the dogs love to chase cats, and two of the cats are "outside cats", neighborhood strays that I've been feeding and who've become quite friendly: I can pet them and pick them up. But these are the cats that end up getting chased as the dogs seem to know that they don't really belong to us as such.
We're in the process of buying a lot of around 233 square meters or around 2,509 square feet. It's already fenced on three sides by cinderblock walls around 6 feet high. We plan on fencing the front with chain link, and building a small house of under 1,000 square feet total including garage and a small workshop. The house will have three small bedrooms which we'll actually use as indoor kennels. The plan is to have as large of a back yard as possible to give the dogs a place to run around and get some exercise (they're getting fat!)
The problem is what to do about the cats? We want to take the two outside cats with us- I don't want to leave them behind to starve- but there's really nowhere for them to go if they get chased when the dogs are outside. I don't want any of our animals to be able to leave our yard, especially the cats as many people here in the Philippines don't like cats and may harm or poison them. And the two kittens will be all grown up soon, and will also need to be able to run around and play outside. There aren't any trees or shrubs or anything yet: it's just a vacant lot, with some grass and some bare dirt with a few rocks, as it's located in a recently developed subdivision.
I'm looking for ideas about how we can set things up so the cats can have a place of refuge when the dogs are out, without partitioning the (already small after the house is built) yard into "separate but equal" cat and dog areas. Maybe just build some "jungle Jims" or cat trees for the cats to climb on?
Here's an "artist's conception" of our lot and planned house, to give you an idea of how much (or little) room I have to accommodate everybody:
The small room on the left, with the firewall, is the bathroom. The cement area behind it is the "dirty kitchen" and laundry area. (The cement in front of it is the septic tank lid.) There'll be a carport with the shop behind it. That small darker plot surrounded by wrought-iron fencing is a vegetable garden plot. I don't want to make the house too much smaller as it also has to be big enough for the dogs to play in on rainy days: my idea is that we can open the front and back doors, letting them add the dirty kitchen and carport to their romping room, besides the main family room/kitchen.
The dirty kitchen and carport are fenced with 4 or 5 foot tall wrought iron (or something, depending on the cost), providing an extra barrier against escaping dogs should they manage to squeeze out of the doors. The front and back doors also have screen doors to also help contain them. My plan is to only let them out via the back door through the dirty kitchen when I let them go into the yard, so they'll only associate that one door with freedom.
I think the outside cats will be living mainly in the carport, but that means making it out of bounds to the dogs. Any other ideas?