Life during COVID-19 has certainly been challenging for humans and cats alike. We’ve all experienced being sequestered indoors without fresh air, exercise and the stimulation of the outdoors, all in the midst of uncertainty. While safe inside the haven of our homes, we’ve also had the valuable commodity of time. What do cat parents do with extra time on their hands, and cats on their laps or laptops?  Build a catio!

During quarantine I received a surge of phone calls and emails from cat parents from all over the world facing the indoor/outdoor dilemma. As a catio designer and founder of Catio Spaces there’s nothing I enjoy more than helping find solutions to improve the lives of cats and their humans. (I even received a call from a cat parent experiencing a “cat tsunami!” Two mama cats gave birth in his living room and he wanted to know what size of catio he should build.)

Check out 8 inspiring catios built by cat parents with our DIY catio plans and meet their happy cats enjoying catio life!  Be sure to read about the inspiring 14-year-old Girl Scout who built a catio with her dad for an animal shelter in her community. It was a purrfect solution to help adopters and cats meet during quarantine. All for the love of cats.

 1. HAVEN CATIO – New York

Catio Cats: Oscar and Zuzu

Living in New York with her husband and two cats, Oscar and Zuzu, Jennifer wanted a catio because her fur kids were always desperate to go outside. She didn’t feel it’s safe to let them freely roam and was also concerned about ticks. Jennifer wanted to give her cats a sense of freedom without compromising their health. The solution? She hired a local carpenter to build our Haven DIY catio plan who not only did a fantastic job, he created a custom copper roof to complement her home. 

How has life been while quarantined indoors?  

My cats have been really happy to have both of us home every day. Their life definitely improved with quarantine as we had been commuting between 2 homes (one is tiny in the city) and we no longer commute. They have been happy to have more space and since we are only here now, I thought it was a good time to get the catio built after thinking about it for a couple of years. 

Favorite places in the catio?

They love their catio so much! It’s under a tree with lots of birds. They use every shelf and also love to lay in the grass we installed on the bottom. In the late afternoon they both tend to like the high shelf which gets the most sun. I also have a furry blanket on one of the shelves which Zuzu loves to snuggle into and nap at night. 

We added a 2X8 section of grass, a large branch for climbing, scratching post, and a few herb plants for them to chew on. I’ve noticed they are bringing their toys out with them which is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. When it gets hot I plan to add a little pool with some mechanical swimming fish for them to attack! 

 2. WINDOW BOX PATIO CATIO – Virginia

Catio Cat: Oliver

Cat parents Wayne and Ellen had recently lost the last of three cat siblings (found under Wayne’s place of work and were “adopted” as their mother was nowhere to be found). The couple needed some kitty love so they adopted adorable Oliver to become a new family member in their home. 

How has life been while quarantined indoors? 

Life has been pretty boring with the lockdowns so I needed some projects to keep me out of trouble. A catio seemed to fit the bill.  Ellen has seen a catio article on Pinterest and went online and searched and found DIY catio plans from Catio Spaces and we decided to get one.

Favorite places and décor in the catio?

The catio overlooks our back yard full of bird baths and feeders. Oliver moves around in the catio but seems to prefer the corner seat. I added a couple of hanging balls and some elevated seating that serve as observation platforms as he is a definite bird watcher.   

I also added a waterproof fabric tunnel inside the catio that he loves to run through. We have a couple of these in the house as well and Oliver likes to hide inside and ambush the family dog.

How was your catio building process?

I wanted the catio to exactly fit the double windows overlooking our patio. While I did some revisions to the length and height of the window box plan to accommodate my specific size, the plans were very helpful. There were several areas where I’m sure I would have made missteps without them. I used the wire mesh roof option in the plan and purchased some sail cloth to make a cover for the catio when it rains.

 3. HAVEN CATIO – Oregon

Catio Cat: Ozzie

Ozzie, a male orange tabby, not only found his forever home, he got a catio! “It was love at first sight with me and Ozzie at the animal shelter”, says cat parent Lynne in Oregon. 

How has life been while quarantined indoors?  

After Ozzie’s adoption and settling in for a bit at home, days before the quarantine began I began to doubt the honeymoon could last as Oz apparently had not read the literature on how cats really don’t miss being outdoors. He was a very frustrated 13 lb. orange-haired teenager (in cat years) yearning for the smell of the wild and venting his anger with shred fests on my couch, chair, rug and important papers.

Why did you want a catio and how was your building process?

Desperate to give him the life he deserved, I bought the Haven catio plan, hired a resourceful local carpenter, and, with great design support from Cynthia at Catio Spaces, created a catio that didn’t attach to the house (HOA regulations). She also helped us design a custom cat door for my casement window using an attractive piece of plexiglass instead of the window screen.

Now, the squirrels, birds, turkeys, and deer are endless sources of interest and the roof makes it possible for him to be outside all year long.

How has Ozzie adapted to the catio?

The most touching moment for me is every morning when Ozzie first jumps to his perch, puts his nose in the air, closes his eyes and inhales the world around him, rich and varied with smells of earth, flora and creatures. Another good day begins.

 4. WINDOW BOX CATIO – Missouri

Catio Cats:   Alfred, Zorro, Felicity (and a toddler too!)

Hailey in Missouri, who has three fur kids and a human child, wanted a catio to help her indoor-only cats safely enjoy the outdoors. Her cats, Alfred, Zorro and Felicity, always love it when she opens all the windows of the house to let in fresh air and a breeze, so she wanted to give them that same treat whenever they’d like. Over a few days, she built the Window Box catio for her cats who now enjoy the wind in their whiskers and birdwatching while safe in their new catio.

How has life been for you and your cats during quarantine?  

Not much has changed for me because I have worked from home for the last 3 years. But one of our cats, Alfred, is thrilled to have his daddy’s lap now that my husband has also been working from home.  My 2-year-old son, Oliver, is completely obsessed with the cats!  He often visits the kitties inside their catio and shares his trains and cars with them.  Our neighbors probably think we are nuts!

Favorite places in the catio? 

Felicity and Zorro took to the catio instantly and are out there constantly. (Alfred still has some cat door hesitations). Felicity likes to hide in the corner next to the bush and watch birds while Zorro’s favorite spot is in the full sun in front of the cat door. 

How was your building process?  

All in, we build the Window Box DIY catio in about a weekend. I spaced out the steps over a week when I could find a few hours here and there. The plans and instructions were excellent! This was the first time I had ever taken on a project of this nature and because the instructions were so well written I had full confidence I’d be able to do it. (We omitted the top trim and bottom fascia for now and I may go back and do that later).

For her cats’ enjoyment, Hailey added a grass garden pot, catnip plant, a hanging yarn tassel to bat at, and cat toys (along with regular visits from her son Oliver) in the window box catio.  She plans to place a bird feeder near the catio for entertainment. In the meantime, her cats enjoy taunting their neighbor’s puppy.

 5. ANIMAL SHELTER CATIO – Massachusetts

Julia Andersson, a 14-year-old Girl Scout who wanted a meaningful project to earn her Silver Award, contacted Stray Pets in Need (SPIN), an animal shelter in her community. SPIN is a transition house that takes in unclaimed and sick animals who are not ready to be adopted and nurses them back to health. These animals would otherwise have to be euthanized if SPIN did not take them into their care.

The shelter’s number one priority was to build a catio for the cats.  Receiving an unexpected call from Julia, who loves cats but can’t have one due to allergies, was the purrfect answer to address their need.

“We wanted a pleasant space for volunteers to help socialize the cats and provide enrichment and stimulation”, says Sue Webb, Executive Director, SPIN. “We limit one volunteer at a time in the SPIN transition house and didn’t want adopters coming into the house during quarantine.  By wearing masks and gloves the adopters could come into the catio.  We would put a cat or several cats out the sliding door where the adopters could sit around on chairs and interact with the cats to decide which one was the right fit for their family,”

Julia planned to build the Sanctuary catio with a team of friends and Girl Scouts, however when the coronavirus pandemic hit she and her dad decided to build the catio together.

Tell us about an adoption success story.

Rocky, one of the cats living at the shelter for 9 months with behavioral issues, didn’t like to be cooped up indoors or share space with the other cats. As a result, he did not show his best side to potential adopters.

“When Rocky spent time in the catio he was much happier. He eventually showed his best side and he was adopted!” says Julia.

Sue adds, “The catio helped keep Rocky’s mind and body stimulated and he became a lot less reactive to people moving around the small indoor room. The volunteers remarked at the change in his personality and he enjoyed having visitors. Rocky now has a large house to live in with a couple dogs and family members who love him and will keep him busy.”

 6. OASIS CATIO WITH CONNECTING TUNNEL & WINDOW BOX – New York

Catio Cats: Charlie, Tiger, Brownie, Champ, Delilah, Mittens and Felix

Cat Enclosures Catiospaces Catio Window Box Oasis

Cat lovers Jenn and Kevin wanted a catio for the seven semi-feral felines at their home in New York. They wanted their cats to have a safe outdoor place to sleep and be able to hang out as they are happier in a natural environment.

How has life been while quarantined indoors?  

We have had a little more arguing and attitude lately among the cat siblings so the catio spaces are definitely welcome! 

The cats exit the garage into a large Window Box catio and a connecting Tunnel that leads to the spacious Oasis catio.  It’s truly a cat playground with endless opportunities for outdoor fun!

Favorite places in the catio and how are the cats acclimating to catio life?

The cats love to sleep in the Window Box catio and explore and play in the Oasis catio.  As soon as Kevin finished the Oasis, the cats immediately went through the tunnel to get inside! 

How did you decorate the catio?

It’s still a work in progress but I added a bench, some big poufy pillows, cat beds, a rug and we will be installing a bird feeder closer to the catio so they can watch the birds.



How was your building process?

This was purely a weekend project for my husband because he was still working long hours at home during the quarantine. The plans were very concise and easy to follow. I did a lot of painting on the weekends so the catio would match the color of our house.

7. HAVEN CATIO – Illinois

Catio Cats: Leo, Mickey and Mrs. Kitty (Mickey’s mom)

Hannah in Illinois wanted a catio because she has 3 cats who love to go outdoors, but also attack wildlife in the yard. With a love for feeding and watching the birds, she’s been keeping the cats indoors for the past few years. She used to let them out but would worry about them getting hurt and sometimes it was hard to get the cats to come in at night.

How has life been during quarantine?

Quarantine life has been overall not bad for my husband and me. We are both teachers, so we’re able to work from home. Our cats have been behaving normally for the most part. Leonard keeps walking across my desk, especially when I’m making videos for my students, then sitting with his tail wagging in my face. This has become a game to him until my husband calls him into the other room, and he races across the house.

How are the cat acclimating to the catio?

The cats have been exploring all of the levels of the catio. Mickey likes to go all of the way to the top shelf. Mrs. Kitty seems to enjoy sitting right in front of the cat door so that the others can’t use it. Leo likes any area where I can pet him easily.

Tell us how you provided enrichment for your cats.

We have added a few things in the catio for enrichment including natural wood for scratching and climbing, a stump, and pieces of carpet to give the cats a soft space to land. We’ll be checking out Catio Spaces’ blogs and website for more décor ideas.


How was your building process?

We actually hired a family friend to build the Haven DIY plan for us. We were planning to build the catio ourselves, but we didn’t have several of the tools or the experience to use them safely.  He easily adapted the plan to make it 10’ tall to clear the top of the window.  Our catio contractor followed the plans closely and was able build exactly what we wanted.  The cats love it!

8. WINDOW BOX CATIO – Oregon

Catio Cat: Jack

Oregonian Ann spends a lot of time in her backyard garden and her sweet, female tabby Jack, (with a masculine name), likes to be in the same “room” as her.  Ann built a window box catio so Jack can keep an eye on her human while enjoying a commanding view of her new outdoor territory. 

How has life been while quarantined indoors?  

Jack is only a year old so I am afraid my constantly being at home is her “norm.”  She is not happy when I leave and very excited when I return.  I think she gets pretty lonesome in an empty house. She doesn’t need to engage with me, but she sure likes keeping tabs on me.

How is your cat acclimating to the catio?   

Jack is getting used to the catio by watching all the birds, activities in the garden, and being taunted by humming birds.  She does not sleep or lounge out there yet. She enjoys visiting her catio after dark to watch the nocturnal garden happenings.

I also added a small wool rug, a fleece hammock that I made, two kitty sculptures and metal kitty art.  Looks quite cozy.

How was your catio building process?

The DIY plans were perfect for me.  I am a novice builder so I needed the detailed instructions and very helpful illustrations. I checked YouTube for some skill support from general woodworking sites and from my partner Tom.  I’ve done a lot of painting so I enjoyed staining the wood floor boards to look professional. I had such a great time building this during quarantine and built it on a budget. There was also good weather so I could do a lot of the construction outdoors. I also like that I can still see out to my garden through the catio space.  It’s a win win.

Cats agree. Building a catio is a purrfect project during quarantine.

While life during quarantine has been challenging, these lucky catio cats now enjoy the enrichment of the outdoors and many benefits of catios. A heartfelt thanks to the cat parents who shared their DIY stories and photos!

May we all get through these uncertain times and stay safe and healthy. 

Life is good in a catio!

Did you build a catio during quarantine? We’d love to hear about your project!. Email us info@catiospaces.com

 

DOES YOUR CAT HAVE QUARANTINE FATIGUE? BUILD A CATIO!

DIY Catio Plans by Catio Spaces are available in a variety of designs and sizes for a window, deck, patio or garden. Build one yourself or hire a local carpenter to build the plan for you!  

Each plan includes step-by-step instructions, a material and tool list, and diagrams for a successful project. Plans are a PDF download so you can get started right away! Materials can be purchased on your local home improvement and lumber store. 10% is donated to animal welfare organizations.

LEARN MORE ABOUT DIY Catio Plans >> 

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Cynthia Chomos Cynthia Chomos is a Feng Shui Consultant, Catio Designer and the Founder of Catio Spaces, creating harmonious indoor and outdoor spaces for her 4-legged and 2-legged clients. She lives in Seattle with her adorable tabby Serena (who has four catios) and is the inspiration for Catio Spaces. Cynthia offers free catio tips, DIY Catio Plans and custom catios to keep cats safe and protect birds and wildlife. You can contact Cynthia at CatioSpaces.com.

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