There has been some adjustments made to the tube-house. I have witnessed one of the black cats from the neighbourhood investigating the new shelter but, so far, no one has entered it. At least not fully - someone wet on its entrance, twice.
Though the tube-house was not utilised previously, other cats did examine it at various times, and may have left their smells. Perhaps this caused a more recent cat to deposit his or her mark there. In any case, I was afraid that this would deter its current use, so I disassembled the tube-house and removed the offending part. It was merely a form-fitting piece of Styrofoam covered in very thin felt. In its place, I laid out a soft and, hopefully, warm blanket. The ceiling of the tube-house’s interior is lined with a curved, removable cushion, and there is another rectangular cushion under the blanket. I washed the entrance, as well. With luck, this will be enough to eradicate the offending odour. I sprayed a small amount of catnip within and, for added incentive, put a small bowl of treats inside.
As you can see from the accompanying photographs, the apartment doesn’t have the space - or the basement - of my former house, and so, when I don’t want to work in -25° temperatures (which would soon render my hands inoperative anyway), the bath-tub must suffice. A good cleaning afterward should set all to rights in terms of hygiene.
I think straw may be coming next week, so that will be added to the comforts of the tube-house when I have it.
In the meantime, the water-bowl remains a good investment: though ice has been creeping around the inside of the bowl, there remains enough unfrozen water, even at -25°, to satisfy an outsider cat’s thirst.
Temperatures are supposed to rise soon (though not above freezing). That, I think, will be good news for cat and human alike.