The following post was contributed by Nala – the Catio Keeper:
Our only goal was to create a cat’s dream vacation, fun and happy, paradise while our cats were outdoors. Over the years we have built one of the largest catio homes around, currently there are 3 catios each connected with tunnels, bridges, and platforms which are nestled in our backyard. I am a nurse who out of determination to keep my cats safe from cars and coyotes learned how to use power tools to make this backyard Catio home. If I can do this, so can anyone else. We didn’t intend to create a Catio village; it is one of those thing that just sort of happened.
So what is a catio, you may be thinking? In our opinion, a catio is an outdoor place to keep cats safe while they are enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of the great outdoors. When coming up with our catio village design, I tried to think like my cats and include elements that they would love and need. A catio enclosure can be large or small but we suggest adding these basic elements for a successful Catio Home.
Roofing: It’s best to have a cover. Roofing will protect from any unexpected weather that nature can offer, it also provides shade in the hot months and most importantly helps that cats to feel safe by adding some privacy. If the catio is out in the open, near a noisy area, this can cause the cat to feel scared or worse. Remember that a negative experience is one of which they may avoid in the future.
Hiding Places: We have designed secrete corner boxes, a few castles and other spots for hiding. Can you imagine being closed in a room overwhelmed with fright and have no place to hide? Our cats go into the spots if they hear a loud noise or see something like a dog on the leash.
Resting Places: Our cats also prefer resting in places that are off the ground or as high as possible. Offering a location high up gives the cats that “king of the hill” feeling, just like cats in the wild. Perches and clear bubble beds are placed throughout our design.
Exercise: We added sisal wrapped posts for climbing and scratching. Don’t forget that cats need to scratch all the time. If you have a choice between a wide or long catio, opt for the length so that your cat can run. We all know that zoomies require just a bit of space to perform.
Flooring: There are many options for flooring such as deck wood, the ground, artificial vs real grass or pavers. Early on we learned that a much floor was confused as a giant litter box, even though they already had a litter box. Soon, the mulch was replaced with an artificial grass turf which is soft on their paws. Never put in gravel, as this is sharp, most cats will not walk on it.
You: Probably one of the most important elements is YOU; cats need to know that their new space is one that can be shared with their pet parents. We’ve placed yard chairs, a bench and even a large rock to sit on as we visit daily.
And lastly, on a regular basis the entire project is inspected for safety. Every connection should be inspected for gaps or places which may cause harm. Plan for your cat’s needs, senior cats for example need more steps to avoid tall jumps. Provide fresh water but never leave any food in the catio. Enjoy your catio, change it out by decorating for fun cat parties. The catio can look beautiful by adding flowers, cat-art or wind twirlers. Our You-Tube channel, Our Catio Home has many videos that cover all of these topics and more. We have the only YT channel that is 100% all things DIY catio plus all of our specs for these projects are listed there too.
Check our Catio Village story and channel at:
May your Catio dreams come true,
Nala – the Catio Keeper