What are the differences between stock, broth and bone broth? — Samantha Georgeman, Reno, Nev.

These flavorful, comforting liquids all contain mirepoix (onion, celery, carrots) and aromatics (like peppercorns and bay leaves). But they vary in their core ingredients and cook times.

Liquid assets

STOCK: Made by simmering bones or vegetables for three to 12 hours (depending on the main ingredient), this classic soup, stew and sauce starter is packed with concentrated flavor, making it a chef’s secret weapon.

BROTH: It uses bones with meat still on them or meat alone, and cooks for just a few hours. Season it with salt and pepper, drop in pasta or dumplings and sip it as a light soup. It can also be used as a hearty base for rice.

BONE BROTH: This soothing drink is a hybrid of the other two: Like stock, it’s made from just bones, and it cooks even longer, up to 24 hours (which extracts protein). But like broth, it’s seasoned afterward, so it’s delicious on its own.

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How can I safely let my cat get some fresh air? — Tristan Sandman, West Hollywood, Calif.

Giving Lucy exposure to the great outdoors is a nice idea, but it can increase her risk of injury and disease, and endanger local birds. A better alternative: Create comfy hangouts in sunny spots around your home — and give her a view of the outside world — by installing cat perches near windows. (One DIY idea is available at marthastewart.com/catperch.)

In mild weather, open windows with secure screens to invite a breeze. If you’re up for a bit of construction, consider a “catio” (aka cat patio), suggests Karen Kraus, executive director of the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon, in Portland: “It’s an enclosure connected to your house that shields a cat from dangers, while allowing her to move in and out.”

Small versions are like window boxes, while larger ones resemble screened porches with levels for playing. (More information is available at marthastewart.com/catios.)

To preempt problems should your feline escape her catio, ensure she’s neutered, vaccinated, collared and microchipped, says Kraus.

Binoculars optional: To entertain an indoor cat, set up a bird feeder in your yard, suggests Purina animal-behavior scientist Jean-François Savard. Place it at least 30 feet from a window to prevent collisions.

Your winged visitors will stay safe, and your kitty’s predatory instincts will be pleasantly (not frustratingly) stimulated.

Stewart’s magazine and website focuses on lifestyles. Questions may be addressed to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Living, 225 Liberty St., 9th floor, New York, NY 10281. Questions may also be sent by e-mail to askmartha@marthastewart.com. Letters should include a name, address and daytime telephone number.

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