By Kate Marcussen, Community Education Coordinator
I never thought life would come to spending Friday nights in the roofing aisle of the home improvement store deciding which type of roof my cats would like best. Many people may consider this a strange preferred Friday night outing, but for me, it was the ultimate in excitement because we were finally building our very own catio!
For those who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon, a catio is an outdoor enclosure for cats. They have become a popular way to provide outdoor time for cats that is safe for pets and wildlife.
Building a catio had always been on the ever so long “to do” list. Providing our two rescue cats, Tommy and Benjamin, with the opportunity to go outside and enjoy fresh air, while staying safe, was a must. It was also very important to us to protect the wonderful wildlife that visits our yard, especially the birds. Our resident Spotted Towhee particularly dislikes the cats as he follows the cats while they are outside on leashes, no more than 5 feet behind at all times, scolding them with alarm calls.
We set out to build a DYI catio. With access to basic tools such as a hand drill and miter saw, we knew that it could be done. We aimed to stick to a goal of spending under $200. The catio would be connected to a basement level window so the cats would have easy access. We drew up a plan of a 9-foot-long, 2-feet-wide and 2.5-feet-tall window box.
Then we hit the aisles of the home improvement store. To be budget conscious we used wood 2x4's and 4x4's for the structure’s frame. We chose hardware cloth to use as fencing for its durability, clean and simple design, and low cost. For the roof we wanted polycarbonate, but it didn’t come in 9-foot pieces. After debating if we could fit the 12-foot long size pieces in the car (who were we kidding?) we decided to go with two smaller sizes that we could overlap.
The building process took us a couple of long weekends, a couple more trips back to the home improvement store, and a total of $172.63. After painting the catio to match the exterior house color it was time to get it into place. In a fit of excitement, I actually made us do this at 7:00 p.m. on a weeknight with headlamps on!
As I opened the downstairs window for the cats to enter their new digs, they cautiously looked up at me with expressions of “wait I can go outside alone?!” They both jumped out into the catio and paraded up and down the catwalk with tall, confident tails wiggling with excitement.
Tommy and Benjamin still struggle with the idea of a cat door and the realization that they need to use their heads to push the door open. But after finally pushing through, they come running back inside, wild from the crisp air and they proceed to run laps around the house in delight. I’d say all the late nights in spent at the hardware store were well worth it, and something tells me that the Spotted Towhee would agree.
You can see this catio along with many others and learn more about why catios are such a great option for keeping cats and wildlife safe during Catio Tour Seattle 2017! Register now
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