What is a Catio and why would someone want one? In short, it’s a screened in patio for your cat… OK put that way it sounds ridiculously pretentious…
Well in our case it was a last resort to save our screen door and our cat. One of our cats (Leo the black and white cat pictured below) became obsessed with going outside last summer. He started busting through the screen on the back door on a daily basis. He would roam the neighborhood until we would find him or a neighbor returned him.
Issue 1: We are surrounded by (not cat friendly) dogs and our cats are used to our dogs who love cats. Our cats have also spent their entire lives enjoying a plush and pampered indoor experience. I’m not sure they are prepared for the cold, cruel world.
Issue 2: Fixing a busted screen door every day is really annoying!
So we decided to give our outdoor loving kitty a controlled and protected outdoor space.
The first thing you will need to do is identify where you want your catio to be and how big you want it. Once you have made a plan for what you want you can by supplies. You will need 1×1 deck runs for the frame, cedar fence boards for the shelves, wire meshing for the screen, plywood for the window exit, a cat door kit, and wood screws.
We had a section of garden bed outside of the window of our office space that was perfect for this project. We trimmed back the big bush, completely removed one smaller bush and left one of the bushes for the cats to explore and play with.
Measure twice cut once!!!! Hold the wood where you intend for it to go, measure, mark, measure, mark, cut, repeat.
Secure the brace pieces to the house so you can start building out your frame. If you have a toddler around they are excellent helpers!
We started by framing where the human door would go.
Our toddler helper tested out the initial door using some stuffed cats. First test was a success!
Continue to build out the frame, just remember to measure twice, cut once! We built it at a slope to imitate the slope of the roof. You want to make sure the height is equal all the way across which can be tricky with uneven ground or odd angles. Try to take those items into account.
Make sure the structure is secured in multiple places so environmental elements don’t knock it down.
Bracing bars will help with stability across sections.
Once the frame is built you will start to get a good idea of the finished product!
Next you will need to add a safe and sturdy netting to keep the cats from getting out, while also letting the nature part in.
Again, adorable toddler assistance is very important here!
Make sure the wire netting goes over every inch of the structure, we used a staple gun to secure it to the wood. If you leave a gap the cat will find a way to squeeze through it.
Next, have some fun with the designs! Add selves at different heights to keep it interesting for your cats.
The next step is to test it out on real live cats! we sprinkled treats and catnip around the enclosure and shelves to encourage exploration.
We used plywood and a cat door kit to create their own private entrance through the window.
It didn’t take long before both of our cats were in love with the space and barely coming back into the house!
We added softer soil to the floor and the toddler makes a visit from time to time. Later we added plants and hope to get a roof on it before it starts raining too much.
This Catio turned out even better than we expected! It is beautiful and functional and our cats absolutely love it! They get to spend time outside and I can rest easy knowing they are safe!
What creative home projects have you done?