By Liz Adams
My husband and I love cats. We spent several years volunteering with rescue groups and fostering cats and kittens. Over the years a good number of the cats intended for adoption became permanent residents in our home. At times, the number of resident cats was one or two more than our house could comfortably accommodate. We had seen a cat enclosure before and wanted something like that to give our cats more room and help them be more active. Plus, though we felt that keeping the cats strictly indoors was best for their safety and health, I didn’t like that they couldn’t experience the outdoors – the sun, the breeze, the different smells…
While having some remodeling work done, we decided it was a good time to go ahead with a catio. I searched the internet for pictures of catios and for information on what building materials to use. During that same time, I learned about Travis Audubon Society’s annual catio tour. Our neighbor, who is a home inspector, went on the tour with me. I got lots of design ideas, and my neighbor was able to see how the catios were constructed.
With our neighbor’s help we came up with a plan to screen in the concrete slab porch off the back of our house. Our neighbor and our carpenter worked out the construction design, and what materials to use. The catio frame and the cat perches are made from untreated cedar, and the roof is galvanized metal. The screen is a heavy-duty mesh intended for use with cats and dogs and is fine enough to keep mosquitos out. Because we have raccoons, possums, and foxes in our neighborhood, we layered chicken wire over the mesh screen for reinforcement. We built perches going up both sides of the catio that are in a stair step design and connected them together with a “catwalk.” To keep our elderly cat safe from falling, we covered the front of the perches and the catwalk with chicken wire, and in some places made the chicken wire into doors that can be opened in order to clean the perches – or nab a cat that refuses to come inside. We added a litter box, water bowl, and cat beds to the space, and a pet door.
The results were better than we ever imagined! The cats absolutely love their catio. They’re so much more engaged and active. The young ones chase each other up one side of the catio, across the catwalk, down the other side and through the cat door into the house. Our elderly cat loves to take naps in the sun, on his big cat bed.
All the cats spend hours watching the squirrels, birds, butterflies, lizards, and everything else that moves in the backyard. They all have their favorite spots. The catio is the best thing we’ve ever done for them, and for us, it’s heartwarming and rewarding to watch them enjoy it!
Featured image above is of Liz’s cats enjoying the catio. Photo courtesy of Liz Adams.