As the days are getting warmer, and spring is in the air, our 20 pound cat, who was converted to an indoor cat over the winter WANTS OUT. NOW. So the idle plans we’d had for some sort of protected outdoor cat enclosure quickly became imperative.
First, some background. We live on a busy street and have been lucky not to lose any cats to the traffic. As our cats age, it seems we all have thwarted reality long enough. Guido, the twenty pounder, has been a neighborhood fixture; holding court on the front sidewalk, walking the dogs with us, going into other people’s houses and beating the crap out of their cats.
He has lived large long enough. The other bit of background is that my husband, Don, can build anything; just bring money and time. He is the champion of scope creep. More later on this.
It used to be most cats went outside, but for those coddled by little old ladies. And many never were let inside. Over time, we’ve all become a bit more indulgent of our pets, and veterinary science has told us loud and clear that indoor cats live longer, healthier lives than their outdoor relatives.
Meet the catio. The cat lovers’ answer to giving your cat a bit of outside space, safe from predators and the temptation to roam (or go in neighbor’s houses and beat the crap out of their cats). If you look at the history of home improvement trends, the catio is still in its infancy. Catios can be small or large, lavish or relatively inexpensive.
In my mind a catio should be large enough for humans to comfortably enter and interact with the cats; kind of like a patio (go figure). Below are a few pictures of a friend and client’s catio she had built on the home I sold her last winter. Truth be told, she chose this house in part for the good catio beginnings. I believe the project cost was several thousand dollars.
The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary puts a professional spin on their cat enclosures, but then they house hundreds of cats in groups settings spread over a number of buildings and enclosures:
Our cat enclosure is not a catio per se. As yet unfinished, even will done it will be a cat space, not a people space. It will be composed of a few modular pieces. The main part is pictured here on the back deck, and encompasses the “dog” house, which the cats have used exclusively since Don built it seven and a half years ago:
When complete, Guido will access this via a 24″ wide and high ramp out one of the dining room windows. The majority of this is built from steel 2″ by 2″ material of a pretty thick gauge. The material itself provides the structural strength. Construction is mostly welding. Once conceived, Don added a few gates for access to the litter box and such (scope creep). We expect we’ll build (Don will) more “modules” to go out other windows, though I expect this will be the largest. The budget for this first installation will reach about $400 including saw blades and grinding wheels.
When making your next move, don’t forget to consider your animal friends!