Wood Deck Gates Plans

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Rehome a Cat

DIY Catio

by Demetria Edge
I love animals and have two cats at home — not counting the three kittens I am currently fostering! I grew up with family pets, but the first one I could call my own was a two month old kitten I adopted from the Idaho Humane Society named Cupcake. Our second, Gulab, joined the family last year after he was surrendered to Simply Cats as a friendly, one-year-old stray. With no microchip, he remained unclaimed until I decided that Cupcake needed a friend.

Young kitten Cupcake, adopted December 2012

Older kitten Gulab, adopted April 2018

I was at the Blue Mountain Humane Society in Walla Walla before working at Simply Cats from 2017-2018.
Cupcake has spent the last 6 ½ years as an indoor only cat. She has always shown some interest in exploring outside (especially when she could see people or other cats through a window), but she has always been happy indoors. Gulab did well as an indoor-only cat for a few months, but his desire to be outdoors grew stronger as this past winter ended. He communicated his unhappiness by meowing, refusing to eat or play, and clawing up the carpet near doors. Because Gulab was found as a young stray, he was likely an outdoor cat for much of his early life. No amount of interaction we could provide matched the outdoor enrichment he needed. He is the main reason my husband and I decided that a Catio was important.

Gulab trying to get a taste of the outdoors.

Wood Deck Gates Planshow to Wood Deck Gates Plans for I knew where I would put the catio early on. Our landlord did not want a catio in the yard killing grass, but thankfully we have a large window that opens upwards and looks out at our back patio. With the location decided, I took measurements of the length, width, and height of the patio area that the catio would sit on. I made sure to carefully note the measurements of the roof eaves, height of the window, and slant of the uneven patio cement slabs.

With the measurements known, I was then able to sketch out catio designs using pencil and paper. I spent weeks researching other catio designs and discovering ideas that could work with the space we had. There were many iterations that came from experimenting on paper, but after a few weeks of researching and drawing I came up with a final design.

I planned our catio to consist of four walls made out of 12 individually built rectangles. It would have been much easier to just build four simple walls, but the extra work was intended to allow a unique feature: each wall is an individual piece that folds down accordion style, so that you can easily break down the structure. Because we are renting, I wanted to make sure we could transport this catio when moving in the future.

Catio resources that helped in my planning:

Do you know for 1 last update 2020/05/30 another great catio resource? Leave a comment below!

Do you know another great catio resource? Leave a comment below!

Using materials found at my local craft store, I created a scaled-down model of the basic catio features. This model helped ensure that for 1 last update 30 May 2020 my sketchings actually fit together properly and helped me determine all the materials needed to complete the catio. Not a required part of the process, but a fun way to visualize!Using materials found at my local craft store, I created a scaled-down model of the basic catio features. This model helped ensure that my sketchings actually fit together properly and helped me determine all the materials needed to complete the catio. Not a required part of the process, but a fun way to visualize!

Trying to put this together helped me realize that I wasn’t as prepared as I thought! I kept going outside to take more measurements and made some adjustment to my sketches. I’m glad I learned before starting real construction that the sloped roof would take more work than I had planned!

Once all the designs were finalized and the materials were gathered, it was time to build! I luckily had access to a workspace at my grandparents’ house. Even though it was my first time using some of these tools, with guidance it didn’t take long to learn how to operate them safely and confidently.

The first step in this build was to construct the 12 rectangles. We used a skill saw to cut 2in x 2in x 8ft lumber to the proper lengths, then cut the ends at a 45 degree angle. When two ends were put together, a 90 degree angle was formed to help with structural stability and aesthetic. Because the catio was designed to have a sloped roof,  the top pieces for two of the rectangles required different angles. Once all of the pieces were cut, we laid them out to double check that all of our angles were cut correctly.

Everything looked great and we started the assembly. For extra stability, I included bracing for the corners of each rectangle and a support in the center of each rectangle. We used wood glue on each joint and a nail gun with 2 ½ inch nails. To help stabilize and correct for warping present in the lumber, we used a speed square and large clamps. This brought us to a great stopping point, especially considering that we had to wait for the glue to dry before we could move forward.

Measure twice…

...cut once!

Wood Deck Gates Planshow to Wood Deck Gates Plans for

All cuts ready for assembly.

Lining up the corners.

Adding structural support.

Wood glue or nail gun? Why not both!
We started the staining process the next day. I chose a white stain over paint in hopes that it would be more durable through the seasons. The stain gave it a shabby chic look, which was an unplanned bonus for me. The only downsides to using stain was the mess it made and the need for a second coat of polyurethane to seal it. When the stain and polyurethane dried, we added the hinges that allowed each wall to fold up. Coated wire fencing was cut to size and stapled on with a staple gun and one-inch staples.

Staining is messy!

If you don’t sand off extra woodglue before staining, you’ll end up with noticeable splotches.

You’ll want hinges that don’t rust!

Testing the fold.

Stapling then cutting the wire.

A smaller mesh would help keep bugs out, but I hoped the cats would feel more “outside” with this.
By the time most of the hinges were screwed on and the wire was covering all four walls, we were at the end of day two. The next and final day was spent adding the additional hinges that attached each wall at the corners so that the structure would stand up! Small clamps were required for this step to keep the individual walls from folding in on themselves. We also added final touches like a polycarbonate roof and a pointless-but-cute peephole & door knocker on the front. Finally, we got to see what it looked like assembled.

Two walls…

...four walls…

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...and a roof!

We then got to test out the best feature of the catio: ease of transport! We folded up the walls and loaded it up into the back of a truck. It’s not something you’d want to take with you on vacation, but it’s no more difficult than taking a door off its hinges. We drove over to our house to unload and start the installation the next day.

First, we opened our window, removed the screen, and replaced it with a piece of plywood with a cat door installed. Then we started reassembling the catio — and ran into a major issue. Despite all my measuring, sketching, modeling, and remeasuring, I still somehow managed to under-measure the height of our roof by about an inch! The structure was too tall to fit under the eave. Luckily, this resulted in an unplanned feature that I really like (and the cats LOVE). Our solution was to place the catio further out from the house and build a little tunnel walkway that leads from the cat door to the main structure.

No changes were made to the house or property! The screen was replaced by plywood, but can be perfectly restored in seconds when we move away.

So close! I didn’t properly measure for the uneven patio. This side of the catio is resting on wood blocks to keep it level.
With access to tools, we spent about $350 on the materials for this catio. It took about 24 hours total over 3 long days to finish everything. Despite all that time, energy, and money, the final product was amazing and so worth it! The cats are happy to have outdoor time. In just a week, we have noticed a magnificent difference in Gulab’s mood and behavior. He immediately stopped scratching at the carpet and now eats better, plays nicer, and comes to us for pets and cuddles like he never used to before.

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Can’t wait to add shelves and other features inside!

“You can’t fit through there!”

Gulab still wants more access to the outdoors, so we are transitioning to give him supervised outdoor time. He enjoys lounging nearby while I work in the garden and never wanders far. He will even come inside when called! When we aren’t home, the catio is a happy place for him to hang out and wait for our return.

Even after initial interest in the outside world, Cupcake decided that she’s happy as an indoor cat. She quickly learned that there are many scary noises out there — and that wasps are not toys! She now just relaxes on an old cat tree placed in the catio and has no desire to go beyond those four walls.

Our cats’ personalities: Cupcake smells everyone’s hair while Gulab rolls around in his special pile of dirt.

So happy with the results!

Building this catio was a great experience! If you don’t want to start from scratch with your own build, below is a list of the materials I used. But half the fun was coming up with something I could truly call my own! Rather than detailed instructions on how to build a catio, I’ve decided to simply share my process. I hope you’re inspired to create a personal design that you and your cats will enjoy!

  • 2 in x 2 in x 8 ft Pine Lumber (30)
  • 50 ft Wire Fencing Material (Coated & Galvanized) (2 rolls)
  • 3 in. Hinges (20)
  • 3 ½ in. Hinges (for the door) (4)
  • Locks (for the door) (2)
  • Nail Gun w/ Nails
  • Staple Gun w/ Staples
  • White Stain
  • Polyurethane
  • Wood Glue
  • Large and Small Clamps
  • Deck Screws
  • Roof Screws with Insulated Rubber Washers (for the roof)
  • Speed Square
  • Cat Door
  • Plywood (half-sheet)
  • White Paint
  • Drill
  • Skill Saw
  • Measuring Tape
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Polycarbonate Corrugated Roof Panels (3)

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Step 1: Find the best Catio location. Choose a location that will be interesting for the cat(s), next to a window or door where a cat door can be installed, and on a fairly smooth and even surface.

Step 2: Do some research. Take some time to search for for 1 last update 2020/05/30 Catio designs online. This will provide great inspiration and ideas for your Catio.Step 2: Do some research. Take some time to search for Catio designs online. This will provide great inspiration and ideas for your Catio.

Step 3: Sketch out some design ideas. Consider overall size, cat door placement, a door for human access, shelving, scratching posts, etc. Sketching out these ideas is a great way to think about all the details that you would like to include in the final product.

Step 4 (optional): Create a scaled down model of the main structure and features. I found that this really helped me, an inexperienced builder, catch mistakes in my initial design. I also found myself using it for reference during the actual build.

Step 5: Create a budget. Go to your local builder supply store of your choice (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) with a detailed list of all the materials you will need. Make note of sizes and prices of each item. This will give a decent idea of all the expenses required.

Step 6: Set aside time to buy the materials and build. This Catio took my grandpa and I three days to build and setup. The structure was quite simple, so I was surprised that it took as long as it did. Also, expect the unexpected. Things will likely go wrong or need altering and that is OK.

Step 7: Build it! Don’t forget take your time and have fun. I found myself on multiple occasions wanting to cut corners so that I could get the Catio up faster. However, I had to remind myself that it was more important to have a well-built structure that my cats would love, even if it took and extra day to build.

Want help getting started? Purchase a DIY Catio plan from Catio Spaces! Use the code “SimplyCatsCatios” and 10% will come back to Simply Cats as a donation.

What do your cats think about their catio? Leave a comment below!

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October 30, 2019 for 1 last update 2020/05/30 //2 Comments

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Printed 5/03/20 - 10:56:35  /  © 2020 the 1 last update 2020/05/30 Simply Catshttps://simplycats.org/blog/blog/catio/353
Printed 5/03/20 - 10:56:35  /  © 2020 Simply Cats