Those who know me even marginally well (and plenty of strangers!) know that I have two cats whose welfare is never far from my mind. One of them is perfect, the other is spoiled rotten, but both of them are my angels and I'm always looking for ways to enrich their lives. As indoor only cats, they got a major upgrade when last year I moved into an apartment with a balcony I could enclose!
My goal was also to make it a space that I would be excited to use. Previous to enclosing it, I had to close the door against them in order to use the balcony. This made me feel like 1) I was not home and 2) I was not relaxed. They cried at the door constantly, and the space felt small and lonely. I ended up just filling it with stuff, never improving it, and never using it. Now that it is enclosed, I can leave the door open during the day and it has become an extension of my apartment! This is a huge win for a small space in the city!
There are a lot of designs on the internet for cat enclosures, but none that I really felt like sitting in. They all looked like cages! In designing this catio I took inspiration from aviaries, train station depots, Parisian balconies and just plain pretty, magical spaces. Below is a video walk through and also a more in-depth discussion of how it's put together. Anything like this takes a lot of imagination working with the space you have, and even more patience, but surprisingly little carpentry skill. I hope you enjoy seeing it!
The final space has a chair for me and a basket and floor scratcher for them! They also love just sitting on the rug. All the plants are non-toxic.
Watch a tour!
How. How? How!
I built most of the catio using two framed lattices, green garden wire, UV resistant cable ties, and various hardware for attaching everything to supports. There are also two support wires at the top along either side made of galvanized wire and turnbuckles that form the foundation for the little roof.
First, I bought two pre-framed lattices from Home Depot. Since they were too wide to put end to end, I allowed them to overlap a little in the middle. I attached them to the existing wooden fence. I made up for the gap behind the second one with a matching 1x1 piece of redwood that I had them cut to the right height. I used the extra piece from that post to attach to the original green post across from it that was not quite tall enough. They're not even but they're close enough. I bought cute little toppers to screw into the tops of both posts!
To build the walls, I stretched the green garden wire around the whole thing. I attached it to the black security rail with black cable ties, and to the wood post and the lattice with screw hooks, and then used cable ties to secure the wire to the screw hooks. In the places where I needed the cable ties to attach to the side of the house, I used little pieces of plastic hardware that are made for doing that with cable ties. I didn't know these things existed! This means cable ties can do ANYTHING.
To attach the curved top of the catio, I first strung two thin pieces of galvanized wire between two turn buckles on either side to act as the foundation. On the side with the lattice, the turnbuckles are attached to screw hooks to the lattice itself. On the side with the post, I attached one turnbuckle to the post, and one turnbuckle to the apartment wall.
Finally I attached the garden wire from wire to wire using cable ties. The garden wire comes in a roll, so it already has a curve to it. First, I attached it thinking that was going to be enough, but then I realized it would need to be reinforced. I got thin pieces of white vinyl (I think they're for flooring? not sure) and pushed them into place and attached them with cable ties also.
That's pretty much it! The shade pieces I made also. The larger one is nicer and I made it by stapling a piece of canvas drop cloth to a matching piece of redwood and screwing it into the lattice on one side. On the other side I used a cable tie to gather it and another cable tie to attach it to the support wire.
The smaller one I used a piece of linen and used cable ties to attach both ends to the support wires. That piece is mostly to shade a certain set of plants and I'll probably take it down in the winter.
That's all she wrote!