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When my husband Alan asked me what I wanted for my birthday in May, I knew what to tell him. After several escape attempts by our spirited Nixie, I wanted to give her a space to explore the outdoors with her cat brother, Milo, but still be safe. I wanted an outdoor cat enclosure, aka, a catio.
What is a catio?
A catio is simply a outdoor cat enclosure attached to house.
While lots of the catios we saw while searching Pinterest were ground level, we felt that elevating our catio was safer for our cats. We wanted to keep them up off the ground to lessen the chance of off-leash dogs jumping on the enclosure, as well as making it harder for predators to pester the cats. And of course, it being elevated means the neighbor’s cat can’t make his mark on the inside either. Sorry Pewter.
Living in Seattle, an outdoor cat enclosure can be used year round, because we have a pretty temperate climate, so we weren’t worried about the cats not enjoying it fully.
We custom built the catio over the course of several weekends, and then have been adding the finishing touches to make it unique. The sacrifices we make for our cats.
We made the frame out of treated lumber and sandwiched hardware cloth in-between the pieces to protect the cats from the edges. The roof is a corrugated panel.
If you have a catio that is lacking some purrsonal touches, you will want to refer to this checklist. Your feline friends will love you for it.
Do you have everything you need for a catio?
We have two perches that run the length of our patio. We used composite decking for our perches, because it’s easy to clean. It’s wide enough for both cats to lay on it and both be there at the same time. Having two perches not only allows them to be active because they have to jump back and forth, but also allows them to have great view of the yard and neighborhood. The highest perch even allows them to peek inside the kitchen window. Which they love.
Every patio needs fun decorative lighting and an outdoor cat enclosure is no different. I picked up some fun solar lights at Target in the outdoor section for both the catio and the chicken coop. They look really cute and they really light up our side yard after dusk. I know I know, the lights are really for me, and not them, but it’s all about the ambiance, right?
A place to sleep
Cats have a knack of ignoring the fancy pet beds we buy them, and sleeping on whatever suits them, whenever they want. My cats are no different. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want Nixie and Milo to have cozy accommodations in their catio should they want them. I took advantage of the outdoor section in Target again, and picked out a red indoor/outdoor cushion for them to lounge on. I think it took less than 30 seconds for Milo to claim it as his own. Poor poor Nixie. As the nights grow cooler, I’ll explore other bed options for them.
We’re still designing a giant sisal scratching post (we need to figure out how to protect it from the elements) but for now, and handful of kitty toys in the catio will keep them entertained.
Water (and food dishes)
We still feed Nixie and Milo their food inside, and their water fountain is also inside. They still need water outside though, so I have a special water dish for them to have fresh water. This “Psycho Kitty” ceramic pet dish is one I bought for my dear Prudence cat (RIP) when I was in college. It’s nearly 20 years old. It’s important to use non-plastic pet dishes. It’s easier to keep them clean. Target has a cute selection of pet dishes, or you can explore housewares too.
The Outdoor Litter Box
I confess, one of my favorite things about our new outdoor cat enclosure is tha the cat box NOT in the house anymore! I’m no longer scooping the cat litter into the toilet every day. (Don’t worry, we use biodegradable litter!)
I needed to find a good solution for keeping the litter box clean when I refresh the cats water. The Litter Genie® Cat Litter Disposal System makes the daily scoop hassle free! Having a litter station set up with Litter Genie® Pail is makes it easy take care of their cat box and reduce odors. I have some steel shelving set up right next to the catio to make box scooping easy. I just open the door, put the catbox on the shelving, scoop it into the Litter Genie® Pail, refresh the litter and I’m done! It’s so simple. Plus, since one Litter Genie® Pail refill contains 7 bags, each bag holding approximately 14 days worth of litter (for one cat) I don’t have the hassle of remembering to take a bag outside to scoop the litter each day.
The end goal before winter comes is to enclose the cat box within the catio. For now though, we replaced the open air box that was in our bathroom with a covered box that would protect their litter from the elements and give them a little privacy. I’m also considering a little overhang to protect the litter box cleaning area during our rainy days. Aka all of winter.
Nixie and Milo were so excited about the catio that the first few days they were always outside. For a brief period of time, we were worried they’d never snuggle with us again at bedtime. Thankfully, we were wrong, and our kitties have the best of both worlds. They have their own private porch where they can enjoy the fresh air and the sights of the neighborhood. Their evening naps however, are still on the couch.
Do you have everything you need for a catio? What would you add to this list?</4>