Expert Builder Series
This is the fourth Q&A in a series of interviews with catio experts from around the world. My hope is to learn from the best catio builders on the planet and pass on that knowledge far and wide.
Catscape – Beautiful World Living Environments
Questions & Answers
1. What materials do you generally use? Anything unique?
I use black pvc-coated 16 gu 2 x 2 inch welded wire, occasionally 1 X 1 if kittens are involved (or ferrets, etc). I will use stainless steel for parrots and some other applications. I generally use pressure-treated and usually stained wood, or cedar for framing. I typically use finished pine or cedar 1 X 8, double-wide or 2 X 12 for climbing shelves. I don’t make ramps as some cats have hip or leg issues that make negotiating them harder than short jumps. For roofs I will use the same wire, or polycarbonate panels, and sometimes acrylic.
2. Can you please share at least three best practices and/or tips you’ve developed over time?
As for best practices I favor three-dimensional space over square footage, as cats benefit more from height than distance, and they feel more secure if they are higher (dogs and horses like acreage!) I always try to build enclosures where people spend most of their outdoor time, because cats like to be where their people are. I also prefer wherever possible to attach the enclosure to the home, with direct access via a cat door so that the cat can choose when to go out or come in. I could build an identical and really cool enclosure across the yard but it would be a task for the cat’s people to have to take them there and back, plus the cat is likely to see it more as a time-out rather than an additional room on the house. I also try to minimize any permanent affect on the home, such as holes, etc. I only reluctantly cut holes in walls for cat doors.
3. Do you have a favorite catio story?
I guess my favorite catio story was from a few years back, when songbirds utilizing a nearby feeder chose to escape Cooper’s hawks by fleeing inside the cat enclosure when the cats weren’t there! This was a regular occurrence.