If you are a cat lover and fortunate enough to be owned by a feline, you probably have a catio, even if it is a portable one. At the very least, you have scrolled Pinterest or Instagram, salivating at all the meow mansions you wish you could build for your furry BFF. If you have finally decided to make your move towards a cat patio or if you just want to learn what is involved, this content could be helpful. This post is all about 10 essential steps you should consider before building your first catio.
So a very good question to ask yourself, “do I need a permit for a catio?” The answer is maybe.
The places you will want permission to build (in writing) include homeowner associations, condo associations, your city and if you are a renter, your landlord.
Your city will probably want a permit, so be prepared to get all the details of what is required.
If you hire a catio builder, he can probably give you some direction but you want to know the costs first. So check with your city. The easiest way is to google your city name, home building permits.
If you plan to go full out meow mansion with a bridge scaling five tall trees, you might also want to get your neighbor’s blessing.
Now that you know the costs of permits and any fees from your associations, think about how much you can invest in an outdoor cat enclosure. Ideally, come up with the number you can afford and work your way back to start to build with that budget in mind.
If you have no idea what you want to spend and are looking to find out how much it costs to build a catio, you can check around the internet. I have seen DIY catios as low as $79.00 and full out mansions at over $5,000.00. Having your budget in mind, even an estimate, is a good idea before getting started.
There are all types of catios to choose from. Depending on your situation and any limitations you have, finding one that suits you and your felines will be fun! Pinterest is one of the best social media platforms for browsing cat enclosure galleries. You’ll be able to find everything from catio windows to skyways!
Cat Carpenter or DIY
Once you know your budget and permit restrictions (if any) you can decide if you want to build your own outdoor cat house or hire it out. At this point, if you are pretty sure you’d like to swing your own hammer, I highly recommend CatioSpaces.com as a resource.
CatioSpaces.com has tips and tricks, blueprints, robust catio gallery and more. This library of cat enclsoure tips can be a great reference for you as you begin!
Research Catio Carpenters
For purposes of this post, we are going to assume you will be hiring a builder. The number one way to find the perfect catio builder is by reference.
If you do not have friends or neighbors in your area that had a catio built, you can check on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook. Doing a search with your town’s name and the word catio should get you what you need.
You might find a few builders who specifically work on catios (which I recommend) or you might check with general contractors.
Catio Builder Comparison
If you are lucky enough to have more than one specific catio builder in your area, do a side-by-side comparison. A few things to consider when looking to hire out are price, quality and availability. Ask if they have a contract you can review when you get their references.
One thing to keep in mind that is super important; find a builder who understands cats! A catio is not only a screened in porch. There are things to consider, and someone who understands kitties will be insanely valuable.
A very popular builder who understands cats and builds catios professionally is Dave Murphy, from The Cat Carpenter.
“There are plenty of good carpenters, but most don’t know anything about cats. And people who really know cats often aren’t that handy when it comes to woodworking. That’s where I come in – I combine my love of carpentry and woodworking with an extensive knowledge of cats and what they like. Each catio project I build is one of a kind, custom created for each unique setting. I do all the work myself and take great pride in the quality of my construction, using sturdy durable materials so that your catio will last for many years.”
-The Cat Carpenter
You may know Dave from his work with The Animal Planet and Jackson Galaxy. I am quite sure the reasons Dave is good at what he does is he loves his work and he loves the cats.
Dave is in Austin, TX and can be contacted for work in that area. If you do not live in Austin or the surrounding areas, be sure to ask around for a catio builder who understands felines.
Once you decide on your catio builder, it is time to carve out time for the project!
The Cat Carpenter explained that a lot of his work is done at his workshop. He literally builds the perches and cuts the lumber ahead of time. This is such a perk because your home does not need to be under construction for all of the labor. Since Dave does so much pre-project work at his shop, building your catio only takes two days!
Your feline’s mini-mansion can be put together in a weekend!
Now you need to schedule it!
I again checked with Dave Murphy of The Cat Carpenter for his recommendations. He explained that much of Fluffy’s seating will be built-in. Dave says the key to your kitty’s kingdom is in the perches.
“I use pressure treated lumber for all the structural framing. It is very durable and hold up well in the weather. I try to incorporate a lot of sturdy, wide perches at various heights that are easily accessible.”
-The Cat Carpenter
This finished enclosure is from Dave’s gallery. You can see a nice long skyway and inside the catio, plenty of perches!
If you have a screened in porch or patio style design, you will probably want to get some additional pieces of furniture. In fact, you might even have your own seating set-up!
Anything can be added to your kitty’s space that works for your habitat. If there isn’t protection from wind, you might consider very durable and water-proof material. If there is a storm and you leave your furniture out, the wind could blow the rain in.
Your kitty might want to be in her catio in the Fall or even watch the snow from her safe haven. If this is the case, a warm little cubby for her to snuggle in would be a great add to her outdoor sanctuary.
Pop up tents are easy peasy and lightweight enough for moving around.
Now that you have some cat furniture picked out, it is time to design your perfect new catio!
Simple cat friendly plants for a stunning look.
Beautiful flowers untouchable by Fluffy can brighten up the place!
Accessorize your cat’s sanctuary with outdoor throw pillows!
Introduce Kitty Cats
You crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s, now it is time for the big reveal! Drum roll…………….
MOVE THAT BUS!
Hopefully your kitty will dash right into his new habitat. He’s been waiting patiently for this day. He knew all the hammering and sawdust the past 48 hours were all for his comfort and amusement, after all isn’t everything you do for him?
But what if you have a shy kitty?
Or worse, one who acts aloof, uninterested or even put off? In the very unlikely event this happens, I suggest introducing him by attraction. Show him how much you like it by hanging out in the catio. Set-up a chair or bench and chill. Everywhere you go he goes, so it will only be a matter of time.
Your cat and you are now well-adjusted to her new catio. She spends time on her perches talking to birds and bugs, enjoying sunpuddles and gazing at the sunset. Now it is time to brag your face off. Get lots of stunning photos of those gorgeous kitties. Plaster them on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
In all seriousness, taking great pictures and posting them on social media doesn’t just give you the chance to show off your good looking feline and her new crib. It will also inspire other cat lovers to explore the cat patio world and continue the catio movement!
Get the camera Karen, let’s take some photos!
Building a new catio can be an exciting journey! It can also be overwhelming. There are a number of tools on the internet to help you as you start designing and building your cat’s new pen. A few other articles that can help we have on our blog are:
A video that might help too!
Lisa is the Founder of Kritter Kommunity and the Inventor of the Kritter Kondo, an outdoor portable catio. She also designed the Pet Lodge, an outdoor pet pen for traveling cats and dogs. Lisa writes for Kritter Kommunity frequently and is also a regular contributor at Catington Post. Lisa is owned by her Tuxedo male cat Finnegan who also has his own Facebook page.