In 2015 I built an outdoor cat enclosure, or “catio”, in our back yard.  It’s something I’d wanted to build for a while, and finally convinced hubby the cats would [1] be safe from predators and [2] hidden from 99% of public view.  We have a pretty small back yard and the 6’x6’x3′ catio takes up about 1/3 of it!:

darwin enjoying the catio       

It is connected to a cat door in the dining room window by a connector tunnel:

bonkers using the outdoor cat enclosure / catio cat door in the dining room window        darwin testing out the outdoor cat enclosure / catio cat door and connector

We shut the window [thereby closing off the catio] when we’re away from home and at night.  Although sometimes we forget and Darwin spends a delirious spring, summer, or fall evening listening, smelling, and watching the world from the safety of his catio.  During winter we keep the window [and therefore the catio] closed.  Brrrrrr!  I tried winterizing it once, but that didn’t so so well…


I started the build by clearing the corner of the yard where I wanted the catio to go:

clearing the yard for the cat enclosure / catio        clearing the yard for the cat enclosure / catio

Then building the frame, staining it, and securing it in the yard:

outdoor cat enclosure / catio frame assembled with rigid tie connectors        outdoor cat enclosure / catio frame assembled and me

Next up was cutting & nailing down shelf slats on the catio’s 3 levels, leaving space for the cats to move between levels:

outdoor cat enclosure / catio shelf slats nailed down        bonkers investigating outdoor cat enclosure / catio leash

Then adding outdoor cushions:

outdoor cat enclosure / catio cushions        outdoor cat enclosure / catio cushions, ipswich river and riverwalk in background

Installing a clear polycarbonate roof:

outdoor cat enclosure / catio clear tuftex plastic polycarbonate roofing tiles        angling the roof of the outdoor cat enclosure / catio so it's not flat

And stapling chicken wire to the frame:

view of ipswich river, waterfall / dam, and riverwalk through the outdoor cat enclosure / catio        bonkers rubbing his face on the chicken wire of the outdoor cat enclosure / catio

Then building & installing shelf ramps.  I had to get into the catio to install the middle one!:

making ramps for bonkers for the outdoor cat enclosure / catio        me sitting inside the outdoor cat enclosure / catio, installing ramps!

I built a door large enough so I could access any part of the catio in an emergency:

building the door for the outdoor cat enclosure / catio        building the door for the outdoor cat enclosure / catio, adding a handle

And finally built & installed the connector & set up the cat door in the dining room window:

building the outdoor cat enclosure / catio connector        bolting the polycarbonate roof panels to the outdoor cat enclosure / catio

attaching the outdoor cat enclosure / catio connector to the catio and house        attaching the outdoor cat enclosure / catio connector to the catio and house

Darwin figured out the cat door almost immediately.  Here is his inaugural trip through the cat door into the connector, and then into the completed catio:

darwin testing out the outdoor cat enclosure / catio cat door and connector        darwin testing out the outdoor cat enclosure / catio cat door and connector

Bonkers [RIP buddy!] took a bit longer:

bonkers using the outdoor cat enclosure / catio cat door in the dining room window        bonkers guarding the outdoor cat enclosure / catio cat door in the dining room window

Darwin LOVES it, and Bonkers, when he was alive, loved it as well.  They both spent many spring, summer, & fall days and evenings out there:

darwin and bonkers in the outdoor cat enclosure / catio        darwin and bonkers in the outdoor cat enclosure / catio

darwin and bonkers in the outdoor cat enclosure / catio        bonkers in the outdoor cat enclosure / catio

bonkers in the outdoor cat enclosure / catio        darwin and bonkers in the outdoor cat enclosure / catio

bonkers enjoying the outdoor cat enclosure / catio        darwin enjoying a peaceful evening in the outdoor cat enclosure / catio

It’s definitely big enough for social distancing:

        darwin and bonkers in the outdoor cat enclosure / catio

The total cost of the build came to $989!  About double what I’d planned on… But I learned so much and the cats love it so much that it has been worth every penny.  If I had to build it over again, I’d use pressure treated wood.  I didn’t use it the first time around because arsenic, but the cats don’t exactly gnaw on the wood, so I don’t think it would be an issue.


Upkeep:

In May 2017 parts of the catio got a fresh coat of stain:

the catio planks needed some tlc and new stain        after a new coat of stain the catio started looking great again!

While the chicken wire was off for the re-staining I built and installed a sleeping box:

the catio sleeping box is completed!        darwin sleeping in the catio sleeping box!

And instead of reinstalling the chicken wire, which can be sharp, I used 1×2″ welded wire:

the welded wire looks so much better than chicken wire!        darwin checking out the updated catio with welded wire

In May 2018 the welded wire required a few more staples [I now know it’s easier to use screws and fender washers to attach welded wire… next time!]:

i added about 100 new staples to the outdoor catio this year        i added about 100 new staples to the outdoor catio this year

This year the catio desperately needed more stain:

       

I didn’t remove the wire this time, I just did my best by dabbing stain through the wire and by crawling into the catio a couple of time to get the slats.  Much better:

       

       


The catio has been my favorite project since starting this blog in 2013.  And has definitely been extremely popular with Darwin, and Bonkers when he was alive.  Birdie, our girl cat, refuses to even acknowledge it.  I have tried to put her in it a few times but she races back in through the cat door, glares at me, and stalks away.

It has been a rousing success for 5 years and is still going strong!  I took these pics today:

       

       

You can find links to each step of the process in this post:

CATIO PART 19 – DONE!

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