MARIO’S TIPS FOR A DIY CATIO
Build your enclosure. Lucky Dog Kennel Systems offers ready-to-assemble chain-link pet enclosure kits that make setting up a catio a breeze. The rendering pictured uses Lucky Dog’s Animal House AH 56203 ($725, saturdaysolution.com), complete with gabled roof, plus additional Lucky Dog modular components to extend the square footage. Or, if you’re handy, build a wood frame covered with chicken wire. [CatioSpaces.com offers awesome, easy to build DIY catio plans.] Minimum catio enclosure is 75-100 square feet. With more cats, bigger is better.
It’s important to give cats elevation points and different perspectives of their space, regardless the size of their catio. Start by creating steps using chairs and ladders; look how far they jump and where they
want to go. Sometimes just arrange what you already have. Ideally, have a few high perches. Another key item is a “highway” (like the Japanese bridge in the Zen cat garden) with multiple on-off ramps as exit points in case of attack. It’s a catification thing.
Find a spring point of design and get creative. What makes you happy aesthetically? A pool, garden, views of a bird feeder?
Keep it fun. If your talent is gardening, incorporate cat-safe plants. Maybe you’re good at repurposing objects for cats to play with and inhabit. Above all, don’t make it a chore but at the same time, don’t go out of control!
If you’re good at building, use sustainable materials specifically for outdoors. For my Japanese-inspired project we used Trex building materials, strong and non-toxic.
Keep it clean. I’ve heard lots of complaints about cats using their carpet tower for just a few months. Use a wire brush [to refresh] and they’ll be back. Or re-clad with new materials and a staple gun. Be sure to put a carpeted tower in a protected part of the catio.
Keep it interesting: Shift the furniture occasionally, maybe a different angle or move to another room. Cats are curious and love some change. Have a few moveable pieces.
Build it to last. Cats live longer when they aren’t outside and getting into fights with wildlife and other cats.
Watch the Jackson Galaxy Show on Animal Planet and tune in to what cats want. His catifying is inspiring.
“In the catio, he is so interested and stimulated, like he has a new lease on life.”