Catio Inspiration

I’ve been quiet online this week because I’ve been working on a few big outdoor projects that I want to finish before the fall/winter rainy season starts in earnest. The biggest project that I’m tackling right now is building an enclosed outdoor area for our cats, otherwise known as a catio. Have you guys heard of those, or are they rare outside of Portlandia?

Last year we actually went on a catio tour of Portland, where we visited peoples’ cat enclosures to get ideas and inspiration. The Audubon Society of Portland and the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon organize the yearly tour because they both want fewer cats roaming outside. We didn’t get serious about building a catio for our two cats until just last week, though.

We have two cats, Delicious and Adventurous. There are kind of long stories behind both of their names, but my husband Steven is mostly to blame. You may recognize them both from previous cameos on this blog. This is Delicious:Angelic Delicious

And this is Adventurous:


Delicious has been an indoor cat her whole life, but Adventurous was a former stray when we got her from a rescue organization. For her own safety, we tried, and failed, to turn her into an indoor cat. When we lived in San Francisco, she was constantly trying to escape our apartment to get outside, and even snuck into another apartment in the building once! Even though we kept her indoors for years, she never gave up on going back outside, so when we moved to a house in Portland we just gave in and let her outside. She seemed much happier, and so were we, except…

In the five years or so that she’s been allowed outdoors, Adventurous has gotten abscesses that have required medical attention twice, gotten stuck in a neighbor’s garage overnight, and gotten trapped somewhere for three days. Our current street is pretty quiet, and even has speed bumps, but sometimes people drive up it WAY too fast, and last year our next-door neighbor’s cat was killed by a car in the alley behind our house. We regularly see raccoons, and even though it’s totally urban, people have reported spotting coyotes in the neighborhood! (She is utterly disinterested in any wildlife, but I actually wish she would at least intimidate the squirrels that run wild in our yard.) So although she’s pretty street-smart, we worry about Adventurous. Steven started getting extra worried after he saw her casually mosey across the street to get petted by our neighbor the other day. So we decided to try to build a catio.

You can actually buy a pre-made catio from Amazon or Wayfair these days, but I wanted a customized solution to fit our yard. I’ve been doing tons of research on catio designs, and have my plans all drawn up and ready to build. Here is some of the inspiration.

Catio inspiration. Worried about letting your cat outdoors? Build a cat enclosure to help keep it safe!

Clockwise from top left: The Oregonian | Portland Monthly | Tara Lemezis via Portland Audobon Society Catio Tour | Holly Erickson via Portland Audobon Society Catio Tour |  Catio Spaces
Catio inspiration. Worried about letting your cat outdoors? Build a cat enclosure to help keep it safe!

Clockwise from top left: Cuckoo 4 Design | My Stuff What I Made | Unknown | Unknown | Pre-made Cat Cage

Some of these are super elaborate and complicated, but mine will be on the simpler side. I just want a small area to keep my cats safe and happy, and hopefully I’ll be able to make that happen. Of course I’ll be sure to document it and post an update when I’m done!

6 thoughts on “Catio Inspiration

  1. Dear Rachel,
    I´m so sorry to tell you that I don´t like the idea of keeping an outdoor cat in a catio at all. I live with cats my entire life of more than 50 years right now. All our cats were allowed to go outside at daytime (sometimes even longer). I understand your fears and of course, it may happen something harmful to them. Believe me, I know, how it feels, when your cat was killed on the street or died of rat poison or disappeared for days, weeks or forever. But I also know, how they feel sleeping under a bush in the garden, drinking from our little pond, strolling around neighbor´s gardens….and most of our cats got really old. It is like raising children, you have to repress your fears sometimes, otherwise you elevate your own needs higher than theirs.

    • Birgit, In most areas it is against the law for cats and dogs to roam free. I think these are a great alternative for the cats.
      Fences can (mostly) keep dogs in, But not cats 🙂

    • Birgit, I’m torn on the idea as well. Growing up, I had outdoor cats that lived to quite old ages (one was almost 22!), but I also had some that never came home. Vets and animal behaviorists say that cats can live perfectly happy lives entirely indoors, so I don’t think they need to go outside. In many cities it’s way too dangerous to let cats outdoors, and there aren’t even gardens for them to enjoy. Left to my own devices, I probably wouldn’t have built a catio, but my husband was really worried about our cat, so we’ll give it a try. I’m not even sure that my outdoor cat will accept it, and if she’s really unhappy we’ll have to let her free again. But it’ll at least give my indoor cat a safe little taste of the outdoors.

  2. I really didn´t want to blame you for your decision of building a catio. I got to know you as a sympathetic person and I´m sure, you didn´t make an easy decision at all. So I wish you and your cats all the best for the upcoming time.

    • Birgit, don’t worry, you were totally kind, and I completely understand where you’re coming from. I suspect that my outdoor cat might negotiate supervised backyard visits 😉
      All the best to you (and your cats), as well!

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