Homemade Catio – Outdoor Cat Enclosure

We’ve finally completed our DIY outdoor cat enclosure – or cat patio – or catio for short!… This followed many long nights of research, walking our cats around on cat leads and LOTS of meowing at the patio doors to go outside and a bit of elbow grease…

Catio drainpipe solution

Patio with spinning drainpipe enclosure… spot the two cats!

For Lyla and Boop, this is a way of getting sunshine and fresh air but at no risk from busy roads, noisy neighbourhood foxes, eating things they shouldn’t or getting stuck in trees (I’m looking at you, Lyla!). The pros and cons are endless but we’re happy with the compromise we’ve made for them both – and they seem happy too.

Outside cats in catio

Lyla and Boop – outdoors!

We have a small garden (7m x 5m) which we’ve recently had patioed (goodbye lawnmowers) with standard 6 feet fences and a car port bordering our property. After painting the fences and assembling and painting the shed – we were ready to go!  First of all I fixed some bamboo screening against the car port fence for privacy and also to stop them escaping that way.

outdoor cat enclosure bamboo fencing

Carport Bamboo Fencing

Then we set about installing the cat enclosure drainpipe ‘system’. I’ll be honest. We weren’t 100% sure if it would work… but we really wanted to give this a go rather than just using brackets and metres of overhanging wire mesh – which we were worried would look a little bit prisony.

Whole Catio View

Catio Panorama

Here are the materials we used (incase you were interested!)

  • Electric screwdriver – make sure to drill into the horizontal fence post
  • Screws – choose the right length so that they don’t go through to your neighbours’ side if you have a shared fence!
  • Saw to cut drainpipes to size
  • Staple Gun
  • Steel Threaded Rods – small enough to go through the bracket holes – these don’t go all the way through the drainpipe
  • Drainpipes – we chose brown ones in the hope they’d blend with the paint!
  • Brackets – already twisted so you just need to bend them to your desired angle. Once they’re screwed to the fence you can still bend them slightly to the right position.
  • Hex Nuts – placed on either side to keep the rod firmly in place
  • Wire Mesh – we opted for the PVC coated mesh to last longer and to reinforce weak spots on the perimeter using the staple gun
Outdoor cat enclosure double rollers

Double Rollers for Extra Security

The basic idea is that the drainpipes rest on steel rods so that if the cats try to jump up, they’ll spin. I wish I’d recorded Lyla and Boop’s attempts to escape but after those first few occasions, they haven’t even tried again! We haven’t had any problems with other cats either as they seem a bit put off having to jump over the piping.

Wire Mesh Cat Enclosure

Using Mesh on the Weak Spots

We opted to go with double rollers as the twisted strap has more than enough space to hang both. It means the lower one can be pushed closer to the fence so the cats can’t get under the first drainpipe, or over the second drainpipe. This is a trial and error thing and very much depends on how much of a houdini your cat would be!

Catio weak spots

Plants and wire mesh in Corners!

We’ve had to put all of our garden furniture in the middle of the garden as otherwise they could use them as platforms to leap over the fence. And I’ve put a few plants around the corners to lure them away from weak spots! In time I’ll make them some outdoor cat toys but for now, this is where Boop likes to spend his time…

Silly Boop

Where’s Boop?

And because I’m a softy, I bought a little cat maisonette for our Lyla so she can even sit outside in the rain.

Shade for Catio

Cat Maisionette

Let me know what you think and if you have any questions, ask!

Rach x

(The Cat Whiskerer)

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A summer vaCATion with Whitburn Whiskers!

Off on holiday? Well, leaving your cats at home with a cat sitter means they can be too. Here are a few of the happy (and sometimes a bit hot and flustered) cats I’ve looked after this summer so far in sunny South Shields and Sunderland!

Cat prowling outside

Mishka on the prowl

Cats whiskers outside

Saffy’s whiskers are twitching

Black cat rolling around in the sunshine

Boltzy cat rolling around

Cat in the summer

Gizmo pretending to be asleep

Cat rolling in the sun

Neo in a playful mood

cat sat in the sun

Mac-attack

Silly cat in the sun

Widget fully stretched out in the sun!

Cat too hot in the sun

Too much sun for fluffy Leo!

Missy cat in the sunshine

Missy posing next to plantpots

Cat in the sunshine and grass

Lily in the long grass

Cat playing outside

Miss Tinkle Puss playing in the sun

If you liked these pictures – have a look at Silly Cats Sticking Their Tongues Out and 13 Photos of Black Cats for Halloween!

Enjoy the summer : )

Rach x

(The Cat Whiskerer)

Whitburn Festival – June 29th 2013

It’s summer fair time again and I’m really looking forward to Whitburn’s family fun day which is going to be held in Cornthwaite Park on Saturday 29th June 2013 between 12 and 4pm.

There’s going to be lots of activities (climbing walls and bouncy castles!), funfair rides, stalls, music and refreshments to entertain all the family – including Sparkles Sand Art who’ll help your little ones to make some fantastic keepsake sand pictures and ornamental bottles (might have to try doing one myself!).

I’ll be popping along for the day too and having a stall of my very own! There’ll be a big variety of colourful and lovingly handmade safety cat collars, as well as some of the goodies I mentioned in my last post about cat toys and a photo album with all my lovely cat pictures and my testimonials.

Please do stop by if you’re in the area and say hello 🙂 And everyone pray for lovely weather!

Rach x

(The Cat Whiskerer)

Whitburn Park South Tyneside

Visiting the anchor in Cornthwaite Park with Bolly

From indoor cats to outdoor cats!

Last year I had a big think about the many worries of letting your cat go outside at a time when we weren’t sure if we were going to be moving. I got a bit carried away in the doom and gloom but then had to put everything on hold until our teeny tiny little kitten, Boop, grew big enough to look after himself. We adopted him last year from Carole at Animal Krackers – a brilliant lady completely dedicated to rescuing cats in Sunderland. Awww… look at his little face!

Kitten in south shields
Boop the tiny kitten-cat!

Springtime finally arrived and Richy admitted that he did really want both our cats to be able to enjoy the garden and sunshine… so we took stock. Boop is biiiiiiiiiiig! He’s neutered, up to date on injections, microchipped and full of energy. We live in a really quiet cul-de-sac, well away from a main road with a mostly enclosed garden and I’m popping in and out of the house all the time. We’ve also found it near impossible to exercise stubborn Lyla and had reduced her food to a heartbreakingly small portion – and she still wasn’t losing any weight. Boop has become such a huge part of our lives that even huffy Lyla only hisses at him once or twice a day now… Okay, once or twice on a good day! But she’s a very huffy cat! We just couldn’t do without him which is why it was such a big decision for us. They’d both enjoy a potter around on their cat leads – but Lyla having been a stray for much of her younger life wasn’t really happy with that. And if Lyla’s not happy about something, she’ll definitely let you know!

Cat enjoying summer holidays
Our Lyla-bean, basking in the sun

Boop’s not the brightest of buttons bless him and we wanted to be sure that he wouldn’t run off and get into trouble. But they already wear snazzy breakaway safety cat collars (made by yours truly, they were used to the garden on leads and we didn’t feed them so they’d be sure to come back quick enough! We opened the back door and Lyla happily hurtled out and… well, we needn’t have worried about our boy. Boop sat on the threshold – looking out, looking in, squeaking up at me, wondering where his breakfast could be – then ran upstairs to sleep next to the radiator. In fact it took a few more weeks before he would venture out without needing encouragement – and a few more after that before he’d go out without me. I have to admit, I was a little touched; nice to feel needed!

Cat care for holidays
Boop hiding in the flower beds

Over the next few months, they convinced me of their outdoor happiness and aptitude, and they’ve even got a cat flap set up for them. Though my heart still thumps every time I can’t see him in the garden, we needn’t have worried about Lyla. She’s taken on a new lease of life and she honestly seems years younger than before. It’s great to see her climbing the fence and tottering along over to the shed to bask in the sun. She really doesn’t go much further than that. And! Up until Sunday… Boop had never climbed anything! But whilst having a bit of a lunchbreak, I saw the little tyke climb up our wooden trellis. Step by step, like a ladder… get to the top and SQUEEEEEAK!!!

Whitburn whiskers pet sitting
Boop the explorer!

He had a lovely roll around on top of the gazebo, gazing around in awe at how high up he was! Exciting! Amazing! He even had a sleep and he never manages to relax at ground level. So that was great – but very silly… then. Oh. How do I get down? Squeak? Eep? SQUEAK! EEEP! Oh. I’m down. That was okay. Silly Boop. Still, he looked so peaceful and I’m proud that he’s slowly becoming more catlike…

Cat sleeping in funny place
Boop – asleep!

So aside from Lyla getting an allergic reaction to something (trip to the vets) and Boop getting his tail caught stuck/trapped/cut on something (another trip to the vets) within the first three weeks of their adventures, it’s been great. We’re really happy. It’s amazing to watch them rolling around in the sunlight, chasing insects around, meeting us at the front door, ‘helping’ with the gardening – and coming indoors each and every tea time to watch telly with us in the evening. As a final positive, on our last visit to the lovely King’s Road Vets, we found out that Lyla is a happy, healthy weight again : )

Rach x

(The Cat Whiskerer)

A walk in Whitburn with Bolly the Bedlington

Whitburn is a lovely village to be a dog walker. With walking routes leading into Sunderland, South Shields or up towards Cleadon – there’s always different directions to head off in. Today I made my way towards Seaburn following the coastal path with my new furry friend, Bolly the Bedlington – so-called because as a puppy, his head was full of bubbles (like Bollinger champagne). Yes that’s right – he’s a Bedlington Terrier of taste!

Hello Bolly!

This afternoon I found a bit of British summertime! It was warm and sunny with just a few friendly white clouds – and even Mr Whiskers joined us for the occasion…  mostly so he could pick up an ice-cream from Minchella’s in Seaburn! Mind, he’s useful for a photo or two 🙂 Whitburn’s a really dog friendly place to visit with plenty of fresh bowls of water for hot dogs on offer. Bet he’d have rather had the ice cream tho!

Bolly and Rachel

On the way back, Bolly nudged us towards Cornthwaite Park – like most dogs who know their area well – he obviously knew where he wanted to go! South Shields council have been busy bees and it was lovely to see a new anchor flower bed display (although I’m not sure Bolly was very interested). Living by the sea means I have a thing for anything nautical!

Cornthwaite Park in Whitburn Village

Bolly went back home for a nap and with the afternoon came the thunder and rain! Typical! Not allowed just one day without waterproofs anymore. Never mind ey? Indeed, Bedlington’s are considered to be first-rate water dogs and Bolly was no exception. This evening, he tried his very best to jump in every puddle I tried to avoid – and then wanted to drink from them all too. Instead he settled for some lovely tap water when we got back home.

Bolly the Bedlington

A well deserved drink

All in all, another lovely day to be a dog walker in good old Whitburn village.

Rachel x