8 minute read UPDATED: March 16, 2023
Wrapping up the home buying process and moving is an exciting adventure for the whole family. Before you settle in and let your pet see the new digs, ensure the house is pet-proof and ready for little explorers.
When moving in with your pet, consider if there are any home upgrades to complete before scheduling a moving truck. A pet-safe house will give everyone peace of mind when you welcome your furry friend home, and an outdoor catio is a great place to start.
A catio, or cat patio, is a safe space for your cat and typically includes an outdoor section for fresh air. It offers a variety of benefits, including enrichment and exercise, while protecting your cat and local wildlife from harm.
Check out this list of catio ideas to make the whole family’s home dreams come true.
Cat parents know the window seat is always taken, so why not dedicate this spot to your cat with a kitty window nook. An indoor window lounge can be as simple as providing a plush pillow and reinforcing the window screen for safety.
There are also plenty of products on the market to spruce up your window nook. Add floating beds with suction cups or even hang birdhouses outside for the purrfect view.
Handy homeowners can build a simple shelf extending through the window with brackets and grid fencing wire around the sides and top. This way your cat can step into the fresh air and feel like they’re outside without leaving home.
A child’s playpen is easy to repurpose into a portable catio. You can keep it indoors near a window or move outside for some fresh air. All you need to do is fill in cat-sized gaps in the side with mesh.
If you’d rather shop around, pet suppliers sell portable pet playpens of every size and shape. These are easy to set up and costs start around $30 – $50.
With some fencing or chicken wire and a thrifted bookcase, you can add storage to your deck and create a cozy catio. Be sure to choose a bookcase with adjustable shelves for a guaranteed fit.
Place the bookcase outside and align it with your preferred window. Then adjust the shelves so your cat’s new favorite spot sits at the windowsill. Adjust the shelf above to make sure there’s plenty of room to stretch.
Wrap the shelf with wire so your cat can enjoy the breeze without getting loose and you’re good to go. You can use the additional shelves for storage or decor.
If you’d like a little more space for your feline friend, pick up a hole saw for your drill and add a cat-sized hole to the shelves you’d like your cat to travel between. Sand the edges so they’re smooth and be sure all cat-accessible areas are fenced in.
If you’re looking for a sleek catio design that adds to your home decor without busting out a sander, you’re in luck. There’s no shortage of pre-built designs available.
If you can build an Ikea dresser, you can build a pre-configured catio. However, these designs can cost $1,500 or more, depending on your chosen structure. But you can rest assured that your little ball of fur is safe, and so are the local birds.
Everyone loves a gorgeous sunroom, and your cat is just as excited to stretch out in the morning rays after breakfast. Consider adding some special furniture and toys for a cat-safe space to lounge and play.
A simple cat tree, some climbing shelves and a cozy bed are perfect additions to help your cat feel at home.
Climbing is a must for active felines, and a cat tree is an easy way to give your cat its own domain. A cat tree by the window provides sun, fresh air and scenery so your cat can play the day away, or just watch the clouds roll by.
Cat trees are a great addition to outdoor catios, too. Secure two-by-four boards to create a frame outside of your window, surround it with fencing and add the tree for comfort and activity. Just be sure the structure is protected from weather or choose a weatherproof cat tower.
Most chicken coops are designed to keep cats out, but they’re also pretty good at keeping them in. Building a chicken coop is relatively easy and affordable, and there are plenty of online resources to guide you.
You can also purchase one new or secondhand on sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Just be sure to give them a good cleaning before welcoming your cat home.
Similarly, an old dog kennel is easy to repurpose for your outdoor cat patio. If the kennel already has a roof, you’re good to go. Just inspect for any gaps a cat can squeeze through – they’re much more flexible than most dogs!
If your kennel is nice and tall, consider adding floating shelves or hanging toys to make the most of the space and encourage activity. Don’t forget to provide a shady spot to keep cool in the summer.
Cats that want to explore, climb and forget their size will love living their big-cat dreams in a jungle-inspired cat patio. Start with any simple layout or space and add a variety of features, like:
Fun furniture and games are the star of this catio design, so take inspiration from your pet’s favorite things. Hunters will enjoy dashing through tunnels to jump at feather toys, while acrobats will love climbing shelves and bridges.
Explorer cats are eager to scope out every inch of a space, and a tunnel system helps them do just that. You can create tunnels that travel between each room of your house, or let your cat navigate your yard and patio.
A hybrid maze gives your cat freedom to wander between their outdoor spaces and the house for extra adventure. If you want to go big, consider adding several mini pit stops for your cat to stretch and play.
Floating shelves, bouncing bridges and hanging cat boxes let your pet scale walls and travel room to room without ever touching the floor. These are a great solution if you have limited space in your home and want to encourage your pet’s activity.
To properly secure your catwalk, you’ll need a stud finder and drywall anchors. These are each available for as little as $10 and ensure your catio can withstand the force of cats jumping and playing on them.
Otherwise, you can DIY your catwalk features, collect assets secondhand or buy hanging furniture that’s designed for cats.
Take your cat’s climbing adventure to the next level with a stairway to heaven – or the second-floor balcony. Add multiple levels to your structure for a scaling adventure, or use shelves and tunnels to connect catio spaces.
This vertical design is a great way to save space and can be used indoors or outdoors. Consider connecting two window nooks with fenced-in stairs that scale your home’s exterior.
What’s more adorable than an A-frame home? An A-frame catio is close competition, and it’s an aesthetic upgrade to the typical cat patio design. The A-frame home can be as large or small as you like, and the design can be altered for indoor or outdoor enjoyment.
It’s tougher to find A-frame blueprints, but you can modify plans for an a-frame playhouse or stylish doghouse to fit your needs.
Does your forever friend double as your squad co-captain? If so, then a themed catio is a great addition to your battle station. DIY Mario-themed coin blocks, pipe tunnels and add some Koopa cat toys for your gamer kitty.
A themed playspace is a fun way to show off your shared hobbies, so get creative. Design a Malibu kitty dream house, a pet-sized Hobbit hole or outdoor cat camp full of toys.
If the rustic A-frame isn’t your style, consider replicating your own home’s style instead. Your kitty will love having their own home not-so-far-away from home, but it will take some extra elbow grease and creativity to create.
It’s easiest to start with an existing catio or doghouse design and add your own finishing touches, like shutters, window planters and a nice roof. If you have the DIY know-how, take it a step further with a customized blueprint from the ground up and add rooms to explore.
Decorating may be the best part of any move, so don’t leave your cat out of the fun! Themed decor and feline-friendly furniture make your cat house feel like home.
Start with these cat furniture basics to design your cat’s space:
As you browse furniture options, consider decor themes your cat will enjoy. Nearly every trendy aesthetic has been reimagined with cats in mind.
Maybe your kitty will love curling up on a flower power cat tower with frog toys and a cat cabin to go home to. Other cats may prefer a fantasy getaway with castles to explore, dragon plushies to fight and a tree hammock to sleep through the night.
Once the catio furniture is moved in, toys are a must to keep your cat entertained. While you can fill their space with jingle balls and mice, consider how you can make their toys more engaging.
You can cut fleece into strips for an easy hideaway to make stalking toys extra fun. A hanging feather blowing in the wind is hard to resist, and puzzle feeders make playing with food fun again.
Cost varies depending on your design, size and amenities. A windowsill nook is relatively cheap, while an outdoor tunnel system could cost you hundreds in supplies and hours of your time.
Blueprints start around $50, but handy pet parents can design their own structure. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need lumber, hardware and fencing. Depending on the size and intricacy of your design, this can cost anywhere from $100 – $1,000.
You can also purchase pre-built designs that ship with instructions and supplies. These run $1,500 or more depending on the design. Custom builds are also available for additional costs.
There are so many catio ideas for your home build, from repurposed bookshelves to intricate cat mazes. Consider what your cat enjoys and your own home’s design to determine the best fit for your family.
Still looking for your own human dream home? Determine how much home you can afford to start your home buying journey.