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How to Build an Outdoor Playhouse for Cats

Updated November 21, 2016

Better than allowing your pet cat to roam free is to create an outdoor playhouse, also known as a catio. This allows it to share the great outdoors in true safety. If you have the space, time and a little extra money for materials, building a catio yourself is a labour of love. The catio described here is made with shelf organisers and wire mesh. Once you build it, your kitty will be frolicking in the sun or resting happily on a viewing shelf.

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  1. Make sure comply with your local city official building requirements and permits if necessary.

  2. Determine where you will place your catio, which also dictates your design. It can be a free-standing cat enclosure, or a cage attached to the house.

  3. Build the cat walls. You can stack wire storage cubes secured with cable ties, or connect wire shelves attached to metal posts, and then surround it with wire mesh netting. Leave open areas for entryways connecting each level, and place doors by selectively cutting parts of the wire grid on the shelves or boxes.

  4. Create door plates with plywood, Plexiglas or metal square pieces bolted to the shelf walls with hinges on top and bottom to swing freely, with a latch to close securely. Make sure the handles are pointing outward.

  5. Customise and decorate your new catio with such adornments as indoor or outdoor carpet, cloth hammocks, and scratching posts.

  6. Tip

    Think vertical. Cats are climbers, so they like different levels and lofty perching spots. Include non-toxic plants. You can plant lots of kitty-friendly plants in and around your enclosure. Consider safe plants such as lavender, catnip and catmint. Always provide water and a litter box.


    Beware of gaps. Cats are crafty escape artists. Always provide shade. Cats do love to sunbathe, but they also need a refuge from extreme heat. You can put a shade cloth over a portion of the enclosure or plant a shade tree if necessary.

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Things You'll Need

  • Shelf organisers
  • Wire storage cubes
  • Wire mesh nets
  • Tape measure
  • Cable ties
  • Door plates
  • Door hinges
  • Door handles
  • Indoor/outdoor carpeting
  • Wire cutters

About the Author

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