May 8, 2013

We turned our patio into a CATio!

Blog, this spring we could wait no longer to create an outdoor space for our cats that would permanently and completely thwart their escape attempts. While Cody is pretty well trained to stay on the concrete pad, and the girls are a bit on the lazy/homebody side, new resident Archie gave us no indication that he wouldn't take off after the first bird that appealed to his wild Tabbysinian breeding.

So, it was time to turn our patio into a catio! Well Blog, I puzzled and researched and found that there wasn't anything similar online to our situation that offered a good solution. You see, the Magic House patio is surrounded by house walls on two sides and an evergreen hedge on 80% of the hypotenuse of the space. All we needed was a way to make the hedge impenetrable, as well as a means of closing up the entry gap.

After much thought and deliberation, I determined all we needed was these four items you see on the left, and a cat gate. Not much expense at all from Amazon, and pretty simple! So here's how it went down, Blog....

After much thought, I decided the least visually obtrusive way to deal with the hedge was bird netting. I got a package of black Bird-X netting in a 7' x 20' piece. I started by cutting the piece in half the long way, yielding 40 feet of netting that was 3.5 feet in height. I took Makai's nylon paracord in a nice dark moss color, and wove it through the netting on the bottom edge. Yes, that was time-consuming, Blog.

I ran this netting under the hedge, as far back from the edge of the patio as it would go, and tacked it down with Dalen steel garden staples, keeping the cord as tight as possible. I got 20 staples for the approximately 35 feet of hedge we have, and I'm going to supplement them with another 20 just to keep that cord snug to the ground.

Lastly, I filled in all the gaps under the hedge with netting, by hooking it on branches and affixing it with green Velcro plant ties here and there to hold securely. Yes, Blog, that was also time-consuming. The toughest part was blocking the area between hedge and house. Naturally that weak point was the first place Archie tested the system, so I had to adjust it immediately. Naughty tripod kitty...well, can't really blame him for being curious on the first venture outside since he made his home with us!

The entry way to the patio was the final issue, and happily while I was installing the netting, FedEx delivered the new cat gate! I used a Cardinal Versagate pet gate because it is stable, has flexible side panels, and has narrow gaps between the bars to block small tuxedo and Tabbysinian cats. That was ALSO time-consuming, Blog--I can't really recommend this gate on the grounds of easy assembly. However, it did work out to be just the perfect design for the job.

So, now we have a catio where cats will be able to play and rest contentedly with minor supervision, and humans will no longer be required to watch with vigilance and give the felines timeouts when they try to sneak away. Spring weather has arrived late in Wisconsin, Blog, but we were prepared for that first 70-degree day so our guests and cats could party together in perfect harmony!