Catio Stories: Rhonda Marple

By Rhonda Marple

When Hurricane Harvey took out a small tree in my yard, it presented the perfect opportunity – and place – to build a small catio. The windows in my house prohibit me from leaving them open, and I wanted my two strictly-indoor cats to experience the smells, sounds, and sights of outdoors, but safely and securely.

I contacted The Cat Carpenter, and the process was so easy that I wish I could put him in charge of every remodel project I might ever need! He came out for a consultation to look at the space and take measurements, plus made some design recommendations, like where to place the catio door. He not only knows construction, he knows his catio business AND cat behavior.

Rhonda’s Catio

Once scheduled, he arrived and had the entire catio built, installed, and functional in less than two days. One of my cats is blind, but she was braver than my fully-sighted cat, and was on the catio within an hour of completion; it took my fully-sighted cat two days to venture out!

I saw that my blind cat had no trouble climbing UP the ledges in the catio, but she wouldn’t climb DOWN unless she could touch something solid; I was constantly rescuing her from the high ledges. I contacted The Cat Carpenter for his ideas, and he suggested installing additional half-height steps on the ledges to give her a landing place. A few days later he came back and installed them, and my blind cat has been climbing up and down and around the catio ledges like a pro since then!

I probably enjoy our catio as much as my cats! It’s big enough for a deck chair, so I sit in there with them, mosquito-free, and backyard birdwatch. I can enjoy my morning coffee on the catio (and at happy hour time, an adult beverage) while watching titmice, woodpeckers, chickadees, doves, grackles, cardinals, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, robins, sparrows, wrens, finches, hawks, the rare hummingbird, and so many more (even a wild turkey once!). The cats are interested in the birds at the feeders, but they are more interested in birds and squirrels that scratch around on the ground. They spend more time on the catio in the warmer months (me too!), but still go out often in the colder months. But rarely in the rain; the catio has a tin roof and the sound of the rain will usually send them scurrying back inside!

That catio has provided enrichment for both cats, allowing them to increase where they can independently “roam.” I get to enjoy it, too, safely birdwatching with my cat companions!

Featured image above is of Rhonda’s cats enjoying their catio. Photo courtesy of Rhonda Marple.

This post is part of a February 2021 series promoting the benefits catios have for both cats and wildlife. Learn more about catios and why they’re important for protecting native wildlife.