Cats! Kids! & Catios! OH MY! ~ A Cat Rescue Story AND DIY Catio Design

We are a family of cat lovers and have had many crazy adventures living with cats, along with trying to help stray cats and kittens. All of our furry friends at this stage were strays that found their way to our home by some means. We assume that many were dropped nearby and made their way to our yard, looking for food and shelter.  Other strays were hurt or hungry, but did not want to be in close contact. While we have not been able to adopt every cat that crosses our path, we have done everything we can to ensure that they get the best care possible.
Last winter was hard! We ended up building insulated shelters for strays that seemed to be popping up everywhere! We ended up feeding eight cats at our backdoor, who were either hurt or extremely hungry.
We had contacted rescues in the past and did not have much luck, and I do believe now that it was because they are simply overworked and at capacity, doing all they can to help. We were also afraid to use any type of facility who may euthanize them. We already had several cats and a couple who have health issues, so bringing them inside was not an option for us.
We did not know what to do, so we decided to purchase a live humane trap to see if we could try to help. I was so encouraged because an amazing mom from our home learning community had started her own rescue!! I was fearful because some of the cats looked so unfriendly, and I was not sure how this process would work or what would happen to these cats!  I decided to contact her and ask for help💕 She was so kind, helpful and encouraging.
We were able to trap eight cats and get them to her rescue. It was a process and a bit scary, but all cats were given medical attention and either spayed or neutered. Some varied with infections, to one needing the tip of his tail removed due to frost bite 💗
One night while dropping off a cat,  we were asked if we were able to foster a beautiful cat and her three kittens!!!! My husband brought them home on the spot 💕

We said that we would not become attached because we were already a full cat family, but they completely stole our hearts 💓 Two of the kittens had already been adopted when they came to us, and this adoption fell through.
The thought of any of them leaving was heartbreaking, and we made the decision to adopt them all!

I cannot begin to describe the amount of joy that they have brought into of lives. We've made many adjustments to create good space for all of our cats. One thing we had always wanted to do, was to build a catio. I'd seen many online, and now seemed like a great time to explore this option. All of our cats are indoor, and creating an outside space was a beautiful option.
There are so many versions that we found and loved! It really comes down to the space you have available, and how you need your cats to access the catio/cat patio. There really is something for everyone!

Our family room has windows facing our private yard space, and this seemed like a great option. Ours is raised off the ground such that we cat see inside, and watch our cats at play. It's also easy for us to access from inside for cleaning, and for our cats to hop in and out.

We looked at many different designs and plans for catios, and in the end we designed our own.   

We wanted complete access to our catio through our double hung window. Ours cats can easily access the catio, and we have full access for safety purposes. If you cannot access your catio this way to remove your cats if needed, you will need an exterior door to the enclosure. 
We do not stand or sit in this enclosure, so if you would like to do this then you will need to create supports or posts for this purpose to support that kind of weight.
Many people build their structures right on the ground or on decks. Your site and needs will dictate what you create. 
We wanted to take advantage of our vertical space, as our window is 66 x 36" tall on the inside.    Ours catio is approx 8' tall, and about 36" deep. 
Our frame for the catio walls was built with 2x2" lumber, screwed together with deck screws.  
       The construction mesh we used comes in rolls that are 36" or 24" wide.
We bought ours from Home Depot.

 We placed our panel cross pieces specifically for easy stapling. When our mesh was rolled out horizontally, we could staple all sides easily and snip the end of the roll on the side of the frame.        I used a pneumatic stapler and compressor, because you use a TON of staples!! 
You can also use a manual stapler and a hammer to secure them. I used a hammer often to flatten the edges of the mesh.
We stapled our mesh to the outside of the frame to keep any cut mesh or popped staples away from our cats, as cut mesh is sharp!
Our catio frame is secured on a small deck that is fully supported by large 4x4"brackets (ours are laminated 2x4"), that are drilled and bolted to our house.
The frame is bolted at several points to the house as well.

Next comes the interior!! We actually fitted our catio with platforms and such before we placed it, and secured it to the house. This step depends on what you build, and the kind of access you have to do this. 
Our interior platforms were all created with 1'' thick board and batten planks. Our planks were left over from our family room siding project. Our planks are 12'' wide, and we cut what we needed from them. We have several cats, so we created many platforms on various levels for them to perch throughout the catio. You can see in our images that we have 45 degree corner platforms that sit on all three cross braces of the catio frame.
In the image above you can see two square platforms, with the corners cut off. These wood brackets are from IKEA, though you can certainly make your own.

We found a dead cedar tree on our treeline, and cleaned it up to lay into the structure. We drilled the bottom and tips of the branches, to screw it into the structure where we could to keep it from moving.

We also used a couple of 6" wide planks to build a ramp and walk near the top. We used a log to sit another shelf on, near the top with a bracket. Honestly we found fitting the interior to be the most challenging thing. There are tons of ideas online to help you with this, depending on the space you have available. I have a great board on Pinterest that you can check out for some cool ideas.

The roof of our catio was made with a sheet of roof metal. Our sheet was left over from our family room build. It is nearly 4ft wide such that we could cover the entire roof in one piece, with an overhang. You can use your roofing material of choice.

I've created a simple graphic of our design for information purposes only, to help those who may be looking for simple build options. 

****Our brackets were are actually 2x4's that we doubled giving us 4x4" supports. You can use 4x4's however we used what we had on hand. I wanted to state this because the image above doesn't specify that.***

We have a bank of shelves below our family room windows, and they make the perfect window seat to perch and enjoy watching the fun that happens in the catio patio😃😍
We plan to staple screening to the outside, to keep mosquito's out!

We experience human life cycles everyday as we grow as a family, but it's such a gift to witness the life cycle of another living species first hand. I grew up on a hobby farm so many experiences have become my own. We have lived with many cats, but this was our first family experience watching a mama cat care for her kittens and move through the process of her naturally letting them go.

Its been an incredible experience to work with a rescue, and we've had the most amazing fostering experience. There are so many things that can be done to help our furry friends. We can be sure to have our pets spayed /neutered. We can build winter shelters for strays, or contact a rescue to see if we can help bring cats to safety. 
We can carefully consider if bringing a cat into our homes will work for us. 
If our cat friend can no longer live with us we can ensure that they are taken to a safe place, where they can have a second chance with a new forever home 💗

For those who are looking for resources we have a beautiful set of Parts of a Cat - 3 Part Cards. 
You can follow the link to our shop to download a FREE set 💗

The sweetie cat featured in this set, is another rescue that we nursed from about 4wks old. He was found in our neighbours driveway, and she brought him to us to care for💕
We named him Tiny because he was sooooo small. He is however, no longer tiny😍

It has been such a pleasure to add this little family of cats to our own, and we will be forever grateful💕
If you have built a catio please share it with us!



I greatly appreciate your friendly comments and feedback. I love to see what others are making, so please feel free to include a links and share your site with us!!! If you have any questions regarding any of the materials we have made...I'd love to help!!! Thank you for visiting us:)



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