Thursday, July 18, 2013

Catio

As if we don't have enough unfinished projects going on, we just spent a few days on a totally fun project - building a catio for our two pampered kitties.  If you don't know what a catio is, it's a screened in patio for cats.  Some people just screen in their porch or other outdoor space.  We have a little unused corner in our backyard, tucked in behind the house, and for some reason it is paved (?), and it has just been a place to collect junk, like old sprinklers and extra propane tanks.  It's right off our bedroom.

The cats love sitting in the windows in our bedroom, because they can look out over the fence and see what's going on out there.  They are high windows over our bed.  So while we were out in Las Vegas, we were sitting by the pool talking about ways to adapt this space for the cats, and so our ideas were formed, but we thought we'd build a frame, use chicken wire or other hardware cloth and fence it in.  But I was looking on Pinterest, and saw this pin:

This is a portable cat yard made out of wire storage cubes.  They look like this:

I got these at K-mart for 18.97 a box.  Each box has 23 wire panels and plenty of plastic connectors. We bought 5 boxes. Then we were to Harbor Freight and bought 600 zip ties, they were 1.50 for 100.  We also bought 6 2x2s and some shelf brackets.  

The nice thing about this is that you can set up whatever configuration you like, each panel is 14" square, and we just laid out a plan on paper, and it went together in modules.  The first part we made was the platform and the space over that, above the block wall.  From the front of the house, it looks like this:
there is a 3/4" plywood platform resting on the two sides of the block wall, and we anchored a 2 x 2 cleat on the house that the other side rests on.  It has a large square cutout so they can go below.  Right now, the entry to the cage is through the window over our bed:
 We plan to add a cat door along the baseboard of our bedroom later, but this works for now.  Below the platform is the paved part of their catio:
 
It's a little  hard to see in this picture, but we built a storage box at the back of the space, we can store our extra propane tanks and potting materials in there, and it serves as a platform for the cats to sleep on.  At the end here, we have a door that we can enter so we can clean, sweep, get our propane tanks, etc.  There's also one shelf on the wall on the right, we still have two more to add on the block wall to the left, and I am going to sew a cat hammock along that back wall over the storage box.  They like to roll around on the concrete.

From there, we built a little tunnel to the second part of the catio:



Persephone likes to chew on grass, so I am going to add some more in this section.  This is the short tunnel to the second part of the cage.



This is the part that I think they'll really like - it's a view to the entire backyard, all the birds, plants and watching us while we work!  They like this a lot.  I had to move a big patch of cannas from this section, so there's no grass growing right now, but it will soon enough.  This part has stakes holding it to the ground so Miss Persephone won't pry it up.  She's sneaky like that.

 It's connected to the block walls by way of a 2 x 2 framework that's anchored to the block wall, and then attached with cable connectors like this:


The panels themselves are connected with the plastic connectors, and then zip ties added for security.  Each connection looks like this:
The back sides of the connectors are facing out, so that the smooth side is inwards.  Also, all the zip ties have the nubs facing out, so there's no scratchy parts on the cat's side.  To be honest, we almost could not use the plastic connectors, just using the zip ties really pulled the panels tight.  In some parts (beside the door, the tunnel) we didn't use the plastic connectors, just connected the panels with zip ties and they are just fine.

We also painted the 2 x 2s with either leftover house paint (tan) or leftover patio furniture paint (black), depending on what it was connected to.

We spent about $125 dollars on this, which wasn't much, and some things we had already (plywood, scrap lumber, screws, paint).  So far, the cats are loving it.  Just a few minutes ago, Persephone ran into the living room to check to see that we were still here, then turn around and ran back outside!  It was so funny!  Mercury runs up to the window and meows at us, then goes back out.  I think he's a little excited about it, too. 

We have about 10 panels left - we would like to continue making a tunnel going back to the back corner of the yard, so maybe in the future, we'll extend their special space!

8 comments:

lad1818 said...

This is fantastic. I have a catio too, but it's from a kit that I ordered online. You've given me an idea as to how I can extend it with some tunnels - I would like the cats to be able to venture further into the yard someday. Great job!

- Loggie

Anonymous said...

How did you put up the ledges?

Laurie said...

We drilled holes through the ends of the boards, and then ran zip ties and connected them to the wire cage. We had some really big strong zip ties, and this seemed like a good solution. They're really strong!

Gwen L said...

Hi! I know this post is a year old but I'm hoping you can answer my questions anyways?
How did you make your door? Did you find you needed support across the top of the enclosure to keep it from sagging?
I'm looking to enclose some similar areas and using my high spare bedroom window for access so this post is amazing! I've gotten so many ideas!

Gwen L said...

Drat. Now I see where the supports are for the ceiling.

Laurie said...

Hi Gwen -
we were just winging it -- we used a 2x2 to go under the center of the ceiling but we could have probably done without it. We have some neighborhood strays and we thought they might walk across the top. As for the door, it's just the mesh panels zip tied together, using some of the plastic connectors as "hinges" - those are cable holders and they come in different sizes. to hold the door shut, we use bungee cords and we have a few screw eyes that we placed so that the unhinged side of the door rests on them. It's held up well since we put it together!

The floor to the part that goes above the block wall doesn't show up here -- it's a large piece of plywood that just sets on top the block wall, although we used some liquid nail to attach it to the block and we used screws to screw it to the cleat along the house. That's their favorite place, they have quite a nice view of the neighborhood there!

Anita Bartholomew said...

Hi Laurie,

The catio looks amazing. I'm wondering, as it's a couple of years since you constructed this, how well has it held up?

Thanks.

Anita

Laurie said...

So here it is November of 2015, and the catio has held up perfectly! No problems at all -- it's good as new. We are thinking of reconfiguring the backyard section - they don't use it as much as the part on top of the wall, where they can see into the neighbor's yard as well as into the front yard. So we're thinking of creating a longer walkway up high along the wall into the backyard. We've planted banana trees there, and I think they'd enjoy lounging in the shade.

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