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How to Build a Catio

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Whether you are a cat lover, or you know someone who is, you are probably aware that allowing cats to roam freely outside is not always the best idea. From wild animals and cars to extreme weather temperatures and garden pesticides, there are a number of things that can put your cat’s life at risk. The good news is that there is a solution for allowing your cat to enjoy the outdoors in a safe environment. In today’s post, we’ll take a look at the steps to take when building an outdoor cat patio or catio.

At SidekicK VSC, we know that you care about your pets and enjoy building things on your own, which is why we want to share the tips you need to consider as you build your catio. On your trips to the local lumber store to gather your supplies, make sure you have the side-mounting lumber hauler from SidekicK VSC so that you’re ready to transport all of the long or oddly-shaped materials you’ll need.

Structure Features

The first step in any do-it-yourself project is to sketch out what you want the final product to look like, as well as make a list of the items you’ll need. When you’re considering building a catio, you’ll want to think about the size of the space you have available for the structure, and what items will work best in the catio. It’s important to make sure that the building is escape-proof and also includes some basic comforts. Possible features include:

  • Perches
  • Ramps
  • Steps
  • Bridges
  • Scratching tree or post
  • Hiding places
  • Bed or hammock
  • Fresh water
  • Shady areas and fans for summer
  • Heating pad and enclosed area for winter
  • Predator-proof screening
  • Roof to protect from elements

Structure Placement

Depending on where you live, you might be limited in your choice of placement. If you’re in an apartment, then building it on your balcony is probably the only option, but that doesn’t mean that your catio can’t still be a unique creation. If you live in a single family home, then your options are a little more broad. Catio buildings range from window boxes that neatly frame a large window on your home to a four-sided structure that can connect to your home with a tunnel or sit completely independent of your home.

Details and Unique Features

Once you’ve determined the size of the catio that you want to build, it’s important to consider how your cat will access the catio. If the space will be just for your feline friends, then a cat door in a window, door, or wall will work. If the space is one that you want to share with them, then you’ll need to make sure that your plans include a human-sized door. Additional considerations should include whether or not the door needs to be lockable, and if there are times that you want to keep your cat from going outside.


If your catio will be placed on the ground, then you need to make sure it has a solid foundation. If you’re going to build on top of an existing patio, then you probably don’t need to worry, but if you’re creating a brand new foundation, make sure that it is level so that the safety of the structure is ensured.

Shelves, Ramps, and Stairs

Whether or not you want to include shelves, ramps, or stairs depends in part on what you believe your cat will use the most. Consider your cat’s personality and preferences. Some cats love exploring vertical heights and would enjoy spending their entire day on top of a high shelf or ledge. Other cats prefer to stay in a tight space that feels safe and secure, like a box. Carpeted corner shelves can provide the ideal space for your cat to lounge and observe everything. The more you can observe your cat’s preferences, the better you’ll be able to determine what items to include in the catio.

Age Considerations

It’s also important to keep the age of your cat in mind when deciding which features are most important in your catio. Kittens have seemingly endless energy and boundless curiosity. Senior cats, however, are typically content with a few low places where they can nap in the sun or the shade. The age of your cat should help you decide which items will work best in the catio.

Plants for the Catio

Selecting some cat-pleasing plants for the catio is a great choice for helping them to feel even more at home and pampered when they’re outside. Additionally, if this is a space that you plan to enjoy with them, there are plenty of non-toxic plants that you can choose for your own enjoyment. Make sure to carefully evaluate the amount of sun and shade that your catio gets so that the plants you choose will do well in their new home.

Decorating the Catio

If your new catio is an extension of your space and not just for your cat, then don’t forget to consider how you want to decorate it. If you enjoy reading, then make sure to include some cozy chairs, a throw rug, and a small table. Water fountains are another nice feature that will also provide a source of fresh water for your cat as well as a pleasing background sound for you. Are you a big sports fan? Deck out your space with banners and blankets showing your team pride.

No matter what features you decide to include in your catio, the essential thing is that it is a structure that allows your cat to safely enjoy the outdoors. As you draw your plans and begin gathering your equipment to build the catio, make sure to have your side-mounting lumber hauler from SidekicK VSC in the trunk of your car. You never know when you’ll need to grab a few items that are extra long or oddly shaped, and our lumber hauler is the perfect solution for safely transporting those purchases to your home. Shop our online store today!