Before and Afters of our Catio

HouseFinchHouseFinch British Columbia, Canada (Zone 5)Posts: 307
edited June 2019 in Garden design
Noticed a lot of difficulty for cat owners on here for both their furry and feathered friends.
Our two cats have very different limitations. We found Murr as a four week old kitten abandoned and starving at my OH's parent's farm-five years ago now. His right foot is fused at the wrist, so he is a three legged cat on good days. On bad days he uses it as a crutch-which only gives him more pain. We have tried to give him the best life we can. I think we have restored his faith in humanity-he doesn't look at us like he is picturing what we would taste like anymore...Don't get me wrong-he was far from feral..he had just been really let down.
His partner in crime is 8 and exhibits symptoms more along the autistic line. Needless to say, we have kept them indoors.
As all cats they both love the fresh air and wildlife. Murr is fully capable of jumping 6 feet up the wall on a whim, due to his strong back end muscles developed to compensate for his paw. Pretty sure he could single-handedly decimate our entire backyard wildlife.
A catio is something that we have wanted to build for years now, and after salvaging some buy sell parts-an old repainted dog house, and an unused hamster cage-we got to work this week putting them together.
Today we are going to give them the grand reveal, but first, I thought I would share with you the making of it. Pictures below.
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  • HouseFinchHouseFinch British Columbia, Canada (Zone 5)Posts: 307
    This is the before.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 4,356
    Do you mean an outdoor run for cats?  I thought it was a typo!
  • HouseFinchHouseFinch British Columbia, Canada (Zone 5)Posts: 307
    After

    There is a cat door in the plywood in the window. They exit the house into the dog house, and drop down through a hold in the floor. They then go out into the bottom through the back of the cage, and can enter the top through another hole in the floor. This gives them a dry, carpet covered lookout.
    I have been hunting through shops for bird statues (more for my benefit then theirs), and cat friendly plants.
    The sod is pulled from our front lawn, and chosen for the most moss content. We weren't sure how the grass would fare in the shade, but I did add some seed and compost on top. The edges along the bricks were a bit rough from cutting the sod out to fit them in, so I scattered in some pea gravel, and more compost before planting creeping thyme along the inside and outside-plus I figured it would provide more stability for the brickwork at the front until we lay more sod down.
    I picked up a brass button plant from the nursery over a week ago, and I pulled a couple chunks out and planted them at the front corners. It isn't supposed to be toxic for pets, but there is a lot of mixed info on plants when you look them up online.
    There is a pot of rosemary, thyme (white flowering), orange mint, and lemon grass but I haven't figured out how to incorporate it into their space yet. I was thinking maybe in (removable) plant pots on the upper front level. I have heard parsley is good too, so I may add a pot of that.
    The top of the roof had a flap of plywood screwed down which fell off, so I picked up a solar lantern from the dollar store to cover the hole. It should work, but it still needs to be screwed down.
    The white dog house will eventually get a mural on either side, and it's roof will have the same material laid down as the front.
    If you have any other safe plant suggestions, please let me know.
    Hope you enjoy!
  • HouseFinchHouseFinch British Columbia, Canada (Zone 5)Posts: 307
    Lizzie27 said:
    Do you mean an outdoor run for cats?  I thought it was a typo!
    It is a term we use for a Cat-Patio. :)
  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 3,963
    That looks very posh. Are you going to add a ladder or ramp so they can stroll up to the top floor from the bottom floor? I'm sure your cats will be well chuffed. (I assume you are not in the UK ? can you track down nepeta (cat mint) - your cats will love it). 
    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • HouseFinchHouseFinch British Columbia, Canada (Zone 5)Posts: 307
    edited June 2019
    @hogweed Research showed that it was an aphrodisiac for them-like I said, different sites have different info. They are both neutered...so I figured it might just stir up trouble... We do have a cat-nip plant which I believe is an entirely different thing-or are they the same/same variety of plant? Cat mint develops beautiful purple flowers I believe, whereas catnip is a highly evasive weed here.
    We are your neighbors to the west-the far west ;) Instead of torrential rain, we are in the land with hot dry and fire warnings in the weather forecast. Want to send some our way? Dry lightning is not much fun.
  • Valley GardenerValley Gardener Posts: 1,644
    This is going to be a magnificent "Catio". Every indoor cat should have some outside space,very nice!
    The whole truth is an instrument that can only be played by an expert.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 4,356
    Looks good @HouseFinch, you've obviously worked hard, so hope they approve. Do you have plans to add a longer covered run to give them more space to exercise? I did see once a whole back garden completely wire netted over so the owner's cats could be let out safely - a bit extreme I thought at the time.
  • AuntyRachAuntyRach Posts: 3,261
    What a brilliant project - it looks great! You clearly love your cats. 
    Found this:

    https://www.yourcat.co.uk/cat-advice/cat-friendly-gardens/create-a-cat-friendly-garden/

    My garden and I live in South Wales. 
  • HouseFinchHouseFinch British Columbia, Canada (Zone 5)Posts: 307
    @AuntyRach Thank you, there are some great ideas in there.
    @Lizzie27 OH plans to put in posts and extend it out front some day-still a lot of landscaping to do out there before then.
    @Muddle-Up I shall search for some of the cat mint then. They should carry it at our local nursery. Momo came back inside as soon as he discovered he had the option, and Murr stayed in it until I called him in for lunch. They are both sleeping around the house-the AC is on and it's 30*c today.
    @hogweed Ramps came with the cage, but they seem to be able to jump up and down easily. Murr spent a great deal of time rolling around on the rug and kissing my fingers.

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