Our new Cat Enclosure or Catio

by Finn Frode
(Copenhagen, Denmark)

Milly and Snow White enjoying their new catio

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Milly and Snow White enjoying their new catio

Milly and Snow White enjoying their new catio Construction almost finished Milly overlookin the garden from her indoor tree Snow White testing security

A few weeks ago we moved from a third floor apartment to a terraced house with a small garden and that gave us the opportunity to offer our two old cats much better outdoor facilities. For now the covered verandah has been turned into an enclosed catio>, but we hope to enclose the rest of the small garden later on.

The indoor/outdoor discussion is always sure to raise heated discussions, but actually there is no right answer that covers every situation. We have decided never to allow our cats to run free, because although it's a quiet neighbourhood with many free running cats, the risk of car accidents, fights or catching a contagious disease is greater than we wish to gamble on.

Also if some day we get another pedigree cat, the contract most likely will demand the cat does not run free as many responsible breeders ask for just that nowadays. At the end of the day an enclosure or catio seemed the right solution for us.

The frame of the enclosure is built from pressure-treated rough sawn timber, joined by lap joints with screws and glue. It is covered with green plastic coated chicken wire, which I expect not to rust as quickly as non-coated. The door is a simple construction made from planed strips of wood and some fittings. I didn't do much drawing in advance - actually I had most of the plan inside my head or made it up as I went along.

I'm no DIY guy, so the construction has it's flaws, but as long as it fills it's purpose, it's OK with me. And building it took me no more than 12 hours - at the cost of less than 140 US$.

On the day we and the cats moved in the enclosure was ready for them. First they checked the house for a couple of hours, then when we opened the door they went out without the slightest hesitation, walked up to the fence and gazed out into their new big World.

Milly was born an indoor cat and has always been the careful type, so at first she seemed a little overwhelmed by all those new sensations. She got used to it over the next couple of days and by now she has taken upon herself the responsibility of being the first to inspect the verandah every morning. Goes with the territory of being First Cat of the House, I guess...

Snow White has been much more interested in absorbing all the impressions the garden has to offer and can stay there for hours. Sometimes the cat next door drops by and then they sit just starring at each other. On the first day she also tested whether the fence was safe by climbing it all the way up. Fortunately it held her weight...

You can read more about construction details and see some more pictures at my Cat enclosure page at Finn Frode's Fat Furry Feline Friends.

Finn Frode avatar

See also: Catio Cat Enclosure

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Our new Cat Enclosure or Catio

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Jan 29, 2011 Thanks...
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

...to Merrily and Ruth (Monty's Mom). Sorry for forgetting to thank you for your kind comments, but they vere indeed both noted and appreciated. 😉

Jan 29, 2011 Some Cat Enclosure Links
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Spring will soon hit the Northern Hemisphere, so what better than start thinking about a cat enclosure or catio now?

I have collected some links to pages that may serve as an inspiration. Most are in Danish only, but hopefully the pictures alone will demonstrate some of the many different constructions. You'll see that building one doesn't have to be that complicated at all... 😉

You can find my links at http://www.raarup.eu/indhegn-links-en.html

If you know of any other pages (preferably in English) with interesting cat enclosures, please reply here and I'll add them. TIA.

Sep 05, 2010 Love your catio and your cats
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

Your cats look so happy and healthy. I love the enclosure you built for them. We've been thinking about something like that for Monty, but he's kind of used to the whole back yard and I think the enclosure would frustrate him. It would have to be in addition to his time outside with me, not to replace it. He had a great time out there this evening even though it was raining a little. I let him be off leash and he was chasing these little moths or butterflies that have been around the yard lately. It was really something to see his antics. My husband just commented on how Monty never is destructive in the house at all, and I think it's because he has that outlet and stimulation of being able to go outside.
Years ago my family had a cat get hit by a car, and I wish we had handled the indoor/outdoor situation the same as I do with Monty. He gets to go out, but only with me there. That cat, Tippy, always would hang around right by us when we were outside. When we did yard work she would hop in the wheelbarrow for a ride, when my Mom would dig a hole to bury compost in the garden Tippy would jump in the hole. We used to go swimming by this mostly unused boat landing on the Wisconsin River and we'd bring Tippy along. It wasn't a proper beach really, so no one would care if she played in the sand or in the woods while we swam. When it was time to go we'd call her and she would come and jump in the car. Would it have been so bad to allow her outside time only to be those times with us? When she was with us she never went near the road, but on her own she would try to cross to the vacant lot across the street to hunt. Would we have taken so much away by not letting her out alone at night? She only lived to be seven years old-- I think she lost much more than she gained by roaming. She was killed between four and six a.m. one August morning in 1987. Maybe I lie to Monty, because actually Tippy was the best cat in the world and she deserved better.

Aug 02, 2010 Love Your Catio
by: Merrily

Finn, I can imagine you looking for a new home, and when you saw this one you knew it was the perfect place for your beautiful girls.

Your catio is beautifully done, simple clean lines...just purrfect. If it was the same color as the house it would look as though it was part of the original structure, good job!

How happy your girls must be in their wonderful new home.

Aug 02, 2010 Cat Enclosure comments
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Helmi. Thank you for your kind words. Yes, the idea was to avoid an obtrusive structure that would dominate the garden. I know we were gonna hate that after a while.
Now that it's up, I see that I could probably have used a lighter quality of wood like 2½ x 2½ cm for the entire structure. That would have been strong enough and even less visible, but after all I'm quite pleased with the solution as it is.

Hi Michael. Funny thing is that I've never seen Snow White climb anything before, except a tree once we were going for a walk. And then suddenly she is up there under the roof...
And you are right that the cats had something to do with us buying the house, at least they were another good reason for taking this big step. I'm glad we did.

Hi Barbara. Thank you for commenting on the joinery. Coming from you, who know a bit about carpentry, it's a compliment. 😉
As you say it's safe and out in fresh air, but still it is of course a compromise. But then, a few minutes ago Snow White came in with her fur slightly wet. She had been sitting outside enjoying the light summer rain - and I mean enjoying. Those little things are really worth a lot.

Aug 02, 2010 God job done
by: Barbara

That is just brilliant, it looks ideal for your cats to be safe and have the fresh air and interest they need too. Well done on the joinery too, what a good job!

Barbara avatar

Aug 02, 2010 Snow White
by: Michael

Finn, I love that picture of Snow White testing security! Your workmanship passed the test, I see.

Michael Avatar

Aug 02, 2010 Finn's Catio
by: Helmi Flick

It's wonderful, Finn! And it's obvious that you put a lot of thought into it. It is great for the cats and yet still allows you to view your garden while being with them. I love these things!

Aug 02, 2010 Fantastic
by: Michael

I think what you have done is fantastic, just right for your cats. It seems you moved for them! Or at least it seems that you chose the house partly because the patio could be converted into a catio.

I think that the kind of arrangement you have set up is the best compromise for human and cat in the modern world - safe but also providing stimulation for the cat.

As you know I firmly believe cats should be able to sense and feel the outdoors as it is natural for them. Doing what is natural de-stresses them and makes them more content.

I also think that all cat caretakers should have such a set up - a dream unfortunately.

Nice job Finn.

Michael Avatar

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