Tally, my first cat, was a kitten I saved. At the time I lived in a flat so she became house cat number 1.
Willow was a hand-reared kitten I kept when I worked as a Veterinary nurse, whilst still living in a flat, so she became house cat (house maniac!) number 2.
Then there was Sushi, she came into the vets as a stray with a horrendous open wound over her back leg, once healed it caused some mobility issues – enter housecat number 3!
Having a multi-cat household was a challenge and keeping them happy and mentally stimulated was really important, so I bought them scratching posts and trees, lots of toys and spent hours playing with them but I felt sad that Tally and Willow had never had any time outside watching birds and chasing bugs. So mission catio began and honestly it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
Lots of people are constructing catios, which provide a safe outside space for your cat(s) to explore. Catio designs vary and will be restricted by space and costs. But providing them with hides, high shelves, cat friendly plants and scratching areas will massively improve their mental and physical stimulation.
With the help of my family we have built a safe outdoor space for my cats to enjoy and relax in, so here are my do’s and don’ts along with tips on how to build a catio.
CAT FRIENDLY PLANTS PLANTS TO AVOID Catnip Lillies Cat mint Crocus Cat grass Daffodils Cosmos Poppy Echinacea Sweet peas Aster Hemlock Cornflower (Asteraceae, centaurea cyanus)
There are many more plants that are safe and ones that are toxic. The Cats Protection page has lots and helpful hints and tips; https://www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/home-and-environment/dangerous-plants
I bought second hand pallets from a local feed merchant to make a seating area. These were only £1.50 each. I’ve painted these and they look lovely!
I had some artificial grass for free which I’ve used to make a grass wall.
I asked BT for a big wire reel to use as a table. I’ve painted this and used the last of the artificial grass around the base – the cats love to get their paws in this and scratch!
Buy strong plastic coated wire.
Wrap posts areas with hessian rope for scratching.
Put up shelves and viewing areas because cats feel safest when they are up high.