I’m going to show you the catio (outdoor cat enclosure) that my 4 cats and various foster cats have used since April 2013 and one move which involved re-configuring the enclosure set up. We had plans and still do for building our own custom design however until then I wanted something that would come together quick and within our budget which at the time required my set up to be dirt cheap!
I researched, I read, I watched My Cat from Hell, I read every post from Hauspanther, I took my introverted self to Denver and stood in a line of sweaty people (me included!) to meet Jackson Galaxy and basically obsessed for several weeks over the best option.
I’ll show you some photos of how it looked in the beginning at our old small town house and how it looks now in the city townhome and then I’ll leave you with a product list and relevant websites.
The photo above shows the catio almost completed. We used a 2-in-1 dog kennel from PetSafe which has 2 options for floor plan which you can see here: You can see the plywood insert over the office window in which we later installed a small cat door from PetSafe. The ramp is a 2×8 with metal wire making a tunnel
After I formed the wire I set it off, added strips of wood across for climbing ease then used heavy wire staples to secure it to the board. As you can see in the photo the top is too peaked, once I had the wire secure I pressed down that peak into a much more rounded arch.
We added an Army tent turned tarp over the top to provide shade and used zip ties to secure poultry wire across the top as all our cats are amazing climbers. Later we added more seating areas for ourselves and periodically I would add boxes from Costco for entertainment and play.
Total cost was $275.00 and as you can see we chose function over form to save money. It took me a few hours to set it up by myself which I don’t recommend! Get a helper and it can be done in a couple of hours with another few hours to build the ramp if needed and install the window pet door assembly.
When we moved into town we had to configure the 2-in-1 kennel into the other option which is 5 feet wide and 15 feet long given the size of our new backyard. It was just big enough to set down on top of the window well which leads to the basement. Here’s how the entry looks now:
We used flagstone and concrete blocks to build a staircase from the basement window and again the access point is a small cat door. Now the cats can go in and out more easily. Juniper Hoot has an old injury in his hips/back from his feral days so jumping in and out is not an option for him and the staircase works just fine.
Here is another view of the entrance:
Since we lost access to grass we added a large raised garden style bed with a roll of sod in it. We’ve discovered if you put good composted dirt in the bed, roll out the sod on it and keep it well watered it will grow and provide nice snacking and napping spots. At any time day or night there is usually one or more cats curled up in the grass box.
The sod bed is scrap plywood and a 2×8 from Home Depot, with sections of 1×1 board in the corners all screwed together with deck screws, Make sure none of the screw tips come through so that kitties don’t end up scratched! You can see Juniper Hoot laying on an older piece of scrap sod that won’t last long since it’s lying directly on flagstone but they can enjoy it while it does last.
The table that Tonka (orange tabby) is hiding under was a giveaway wicker foot stool. The table Grit the tortie is lying on was built again with scrap plywood, a carpet sample from the local dollar store and leftover 4×4 posts from when we had the wood fence replaced. I asked the workers to leave us the excess fence posts which they were happy to do and we’ve turned them into tables and scratching posts.
I tend to go with scrap structures because I like changing the set up in the catio about every six months and switching out the carpet pieces when they get funky so I’m not too worried about looks. If I was it would be pretty simple and very inexpensive to throw a couple of coats of paint on the garden bed and the table.
So here are links to the kennel, the cat door, poultry wire and the wood. A roll of sod can be gotten almost free if you’re lucky enough to live near a turf farm but you can also find them as giveaways on Craigslist. However, if using Craigslist creeps you out as much as it does me these days, you can call your local landscapers or Home Depot to see if they sell single rolls. They usually do and for a few bucks it’s nice to add a patch of fresh grass.
*for some reason if you’re on your cell phone the kennel/cat door links only go to Petsmart’s page – on the laptop/desktop they go right to the product – not sure why?
So anyway please ask any questions you may have and if you have any problems finding resources in your area feel free to using the contact form on this site.
If you would like your catio design written up to be posted here or as a guest post send me an email and we’ll chat!
FTC disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means if you use them and order I’ll get a teeny percentage of the sale which goes to support the blog and feral cat programs.