NATIONAL ANIMAL SAFETY MONTH
October is National Animal Safety and Protection month, let's talk about outdoor cat safety!
The point of this article is not to get into the indoor vs outdoor debate. It's to offer a DIY solution for a safe way to let your cat have outdoor stimulation while avoiding hazards like - cars, other animals, eating trash or toxins, diseases, etc.. A catio is an outside enclosure that allows your cat to view and interact with the outside world, while not being able to roam.
Our cat Bruce was picked up as a stray from the streets. I found him sick in our bushes six years ago and kept him when he wasn't claimed. For the most part, he has had little desire to go back outside until this year. He kept running outside anytime a door was open and I would have to bring him back inside, sometimes he was VERY nasty when trying to get him back in the house. We built him the catio to appease him and he rarely tries to run outside now. Here is information on how to build a catio using Stor Cube Storage to make a temporary/moveable structure. The orginal instructions and samples I found for this method are on Cat & Caboodle, where you can find more information and photos from others who have built it using this method. If you have a cat that tries to go outside, they will enjoy this catio so much and be less stressed. (or even a cat that doesn't run out will love it!)
- (2-10) Stor Cube Storage
I bought them for $21.00 each at kmart.
I honestly just used my hulk strength because I don't have one
- 1000 7" or 8 " zip ties
I bought black to match the cubes so it was less noticable
- Wire Cutter or Scissors
- Carpet for steps
The first thing you need to do is plan where you are going to build the catio, how they will have access to it and think about how many boxes you will need. Cat & Caboodle has lots of examples of what other people have done and how many boxes they needed to help you see what could work for you. We used four boxes with window access.
I felt like I was playing tetris when I was putting this together. Putting this sort of thing together is not my thing but I did figure it out. I started by working with the top down on the ground and building upward. Use the mallot to tap your squares into the connectors, you should hear a "click" when it's in all the way. If you make a mistake you can undo it. One of the issue though I found was when I was building certain areas, some pieces came undone if not clicked in all the way or not zip tied. It was frustrating at times.
Above are photos of how to place your connectors as you are building. For the wall it is only recommended to go max five high. I went six high for the window because I didn't have a choice and it is wobbly but secure, we are going to secure to siding at some point. I only did two high on the walk area so that it could be longer, I felt this was enough of vertical space. The connector corner photos show you what it will look like if you put together two large rectangles or sections like we did. Once complete or confidence in your arrangement, zip tie every little thing. All squares around the connector and then even some extras, especially in odd areas like we had with the connecting corner.
I made a top access pannel by not securing two top panels. Instead I zip tied to the wall then rested on top of the connector. This made for a one square big access, but I made two of them at either end. Secure it with a bungee, tie, or hook, you need it secured but easy to untie. Cat & Caboodle has instructions for a more complex 2x2 access panel, try out what works best for your design.
ACCESS TO OUTSIDE
To let our cats outside we open our window. I only let them outside when I am home, to make sure they don't escape and nothing finds it's way in the house. For the steps in the picture, we reinforced them by having back panels on the steps for a full cube. Without the back panels they would not be firm enough unless you added something to mount to the wall for additional support. The panels have rather large holes so you need to place carpet over top so their feet don't fall thru. I found carpet with adhesive back at Ollies for about $1 per piece, since this is outside find something cheap. On the inside of house we will be adding a pet door on the screen and a shelf in front of the window so we can prevent bugs and the cats can have a larger ledge.
I added an Ikea Lack table that just happened to be sitting around to add some vertical space. I also bought sod from the local garden store for $4 since the catio isn't in the grass. I used the small access panel to place the sod in and also the legs to the table. I slid the table top underneath the whole piece and then screwed legs on thru access panel. I also added solar lights ( I bought cheap lawn solar stakes and took the tops off) on the top of cat walk to add light at night and I plan to get some solar string light for steps area. Oh, and I will be growing catnip inside!
Fox & Feline Fur-Files is a pet blog dedicated to the challenges and highlights of a multi-species household. Featuring cat hacks, our favorite pet products, education and furry mayhem.
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