Catio DIY: How to Build a Safe Catio

Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by Jenny

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If you want to build a catio for your pet, then you must set up a plan according to the space you have available for it and the items you want to include it. You can set up catios on balconies, terraces, or even outside in your garden, but the one thing you should never lose sight of while creating your catio is safety. Here are a few things you need to know about how to build a safe catio.

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Why is a catio necessary for indoor cats?

For an indoor cat, being taken outside all of a sudden could prove to be an overwhelming experience. As opposed to outdoor cats, the apartment cats are not used to some of the following elements and they will not know how to defend themselves.

Other Animals – If your apartment cat were to encounter dogs or other cats, it may not be ready for the fight. A catio will keep it safe from this type of exposure.

Other People – However much you may like animals, keep in mind that not everybody does, so do not rely on this. In a catio, your cat will be unreachable, so you will not have to worry.

Harsh Conditions – Outdoor cats are used to being out in the rain once in a while and they will most likely not get scared when it happens, but indoor cats are not used to this. A catio must provide shelter in care of sudden extreme weather.

Cars – Indoor cats are not used to keeping safe from cars, which is why letting your cat spend time outside in a catio is much safer than letting it roam free outside.

What makes a catio safe?

A catio is a cat sanctuary, it is a space where your cat can spend time outside and play. Catios must have proper fencing (you can use catio panels) that will prevent it from getting out and running away or jumping out the balcony. However, fencing is not the only aspect to consider. The recreational space you set up inside with toys must also be safe for your cat.

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Catio Fencing safety tips

Whether you use ready-made catio panels or you make a custom catio plan, you must make sure that there is no area where the catio is missing fencing. This could become dangerous because your cat will be tempted to explore further and it could get stuck and hurt.

You should also make sure that there is no defect to the fencing and that there are no pointy edges or loose fencing material which could end up hurting your cat. Be prepared for your cat to climb on the fencing in the catio and explore, so no part of it will remain untouchable.


Catio Activity Station Safety Tips

Catios come with activity stations that include stairs, high-placed lounges, catio tunnels, scratchers, beds and many others. But how do you keep these safe for your cat? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The stairs should be large enough for your cat to be steady on and they should feature middle areas (ledges or lounges) where your cat can be on a large safe platform.
  • Be prepared for your cat to jump, so don’t place the steps and ledges very high up. If it is not a height that you would let your cat jump from, then you may want to consider placing it lower.
  • If you place catio tunnels, make sure that the cat can’t get stuck inside. Access to the tunnel should never be blocked and there should be at least two exist for the tunnel to be safe.
  • The stairs and ledges should not have sharp edges because your cat could hurt itself on them. Make sure that anything you use for the catio has safe rounded edges.

Catio DIY Plans


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As you can see, there are many things to consider if you want to build a safe catio. Whether you go with a DIY Ikea catio or have a custom-made one by a specialized catio builder, the QA part of the plan is something you should not overlook. Do you have a catio for your pet? Do you have any other tips on keeping it safe? Tell us in the comments section below.

DIY Catio by Reader Patti McTee

“Right outside of one of our bedroom windows is a gigantic oak tree. I would have never planted a tree so close, but someone else did like 60 years ago. It’s not in my budget to cut it down, and with all the shade and birds it provides, I thought it was an ideal place to put the catio we wanted.

DIY Catio by Reader catio 2 ft wide

We replaced the window glass with plexiglass and installed a pet door. I should say actually that we hired a carpenter to do it all.

DIY Catio by Reader catio 1 ft wide

The catio is in an L-shape, 3x4x2 ft. About 2 ft tall, and have the same roofing material our house does. 🙂 We had some left over from recently replacing our roof.

DIY Catio by Reader catio 3 ft wide

And of course, it is screened in.

DIY Catio by Reader catio 3x4 inside view

Lastly, I placed a bird feeder on a pulley out there too. I enjoy the birds, and so does Baby. She watches them every morning while they eat, and periodically throughout the day. Plus she gets to see an occasional stray cat or dog wandering around, which gets her really excited.

DIY Catio by Reader catio pet door

I LOVE that she can be outside without any danger at all. I have her leash trained, but this way she can go out anytime she wants.”

My Cats Catio by Stacey

“This catio was custom built by my handyman. We used critterfence half inch grid black coated steel wire. Here you will see it in two different locations as we moved in June.

DIY Catio with Critterfence IMG_7903

So I paid my movers to put in in the moving truck! It used to be on my French doors. It is now pushed up to a bedroom window. We have ramps and shelves for safety as my cats are all seniors now.

Here’s the link to my catio at the old location featured on critterfence page on fb.

It’s not a kit. It’s all from Home Depot except for the black wire from critterfence. It has a clear plastic roof. They are panels you buy at Home Depot. All painted then assembled. Completely custom.

DIY Catio with Critterfence IMG_7901

I showed my handyman a picture that I found on Pinterest and the space I had available. Modifications were made along the way and the Clear roof was added which originally I wasn’t going to do.

DIY Catio with Critterfence IMG_7902

It’s just a big rectangle of 2×4’s with wire nailed on, a door, and shelves with ramps. What made it so nice was that it was all painted to match the trim on my old house. If I were to do it again here it would be white. Any good handyman should be able to build this.”

DIY Catio with Critterfence IMG_7904

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4 thoughts on “Catio DIY: How to Build a Safe Catio

  1. pam-e says:

    I am LOVING all this info about CATIOS!!! It’s one topic I never get sick of and I’m always amazed by the creativity of some of them…so very inspiring!!!

  2. Patti Johnson says:

    ANOTHER SUPER PAWESOME & FABULOUS POST ABOUT CATIOS, Jenny honey! Absolutely amazeballs info! LURVE!!! No possible catio for us but I just adore the ideas, plans and DIY info! TYSVM!! 🙂 <3


    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3 <3 <3

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