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Catio (Patio for cats)
How our cats can be outside safely
by Karen Childs

In trying to find a way to let our two indoor cats enjoy being outside, we hunted for ways for them to be safe while enjoying themselves out of doors.  We found some great ideas in the Cat Fancy magazine, issue April 2001 article "Please Fence Me In".  This article started us thinking of ways to build our own catio. 

Gazebo ScanIn our search for enclosure ideas we found cat owners with great enclosures already built, such as this one built by an Audubon Society couple.  This multistoried, eight-sided gazebo is enclosed with heavy vinyl coated, galvanized poultry netting.  It has 18 wooden perches for cat comfort.  Notice the 8 foot long bridge-tunnel at upper right near the roof.  This leads into the basement window of the Boone & Gillespie home.  They have included a free standing bird feeder and a goldfish pond near by which makes for wonderful cat entertainment.  Great Idea!

There are hundreds of creative ways to build play areas for kitty safety.  We have found that the space can be elaborate and huge, or small and inexpensive.  Some enclosure's can be bought from dealers on the internet already designed, and you'll find a few of these in the link section at to bottom of the page.  The cats are going to love their new space no matter what.

Where we live there are bears, coyotes, raccoons, feral cats, large birds of prey, outdoor cats, disease and traffic.  Because of these dangers we needed to build a strong and safe catio.

We chose an outside area of our house that faces south and is in the least windy area.  We started building a 8 X 5 foot frame in cedar.  The frame was covered with heavy gauge green vinyl-coated wire.  There is a doggie door into the house which allows the cats to move freely indoors to outdoors 24/7.  There is an opaque plastic roof over this area for shade and rain protection.  We built a door into one side for human access for cleaning the space.  This photo was taken in 2006.  Click on the photo for a few more photos.

The Catio is a work in progess as we find that we need more perches and maybe a large tree trunk and large rocks for interest, maybe some hanging plants too.  During the months ahead we would like to design a "sky cat-walk" which would wind around the yard.

Our cats, Blue & Bessie, can now enjoy bird watching and be in the fresh air and a safe place.  We are content in knowing nothing is going to harm them.  They can watch the family of raccoons pass by with no fear of attack.

The girls are lovin' the experience of bringing us presents like frogs & salamanders that get into the Catio.  We use the famous "Lily Insect Relocator" shown on the right, to relocate unwelcome guests back outdoors.  Click on its photo for more information.

Click here or on the photo on the left to explore Bob & Lily's Catio and retreat for both cats and their humans.
Click here for an example of adding a catio to an existing atrium and click here for an example of converting a patio to create a catio.

Assorted Links

A google search for "cat enclosures" and outdoors
A google image search for cat enclosures

A few homemade Catios:
####  (site has many more links)

A few commercial links, plans and/or pre-built

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