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07th Sep 2022

Would you build a Catio?

by Burns Team Writer

If you have a cat, or cats, like me you want the best for them. I have 3 of the furry loons.

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.


  1. DO IT.
  2. Set a budget. It doesn’t have to be a palace, or the plaza and you can do it within a budget. I’ve probably spent about £1500 but that includes all the materials, a summerhouse and some bits to make it pretty. A lot of the materials you can get second hand.
  3. Do your research; the internet has loads of amazing photos and ideas to help.
  4. Start simple, you can always extend and add more at a later date.
  5. Put in safe places for you cat(s) to hide and relax – shelving, beds, little places to cwtsh.
  6. Use cat friendly plants – see table below


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


To decorate:

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.