It’s thanks to my father that not only I have been able to adopt 6 cats, but I can give them a rich outdoor life even though they are indoor cats 100% of the time. My home is a one bedroom cottage, without the catios I’d run the risk of overcrowding aggression. To avoid this I’ve used very slow introduction methods with each new rescue cat and relied heavily on catios!

I love my window views: BoyBoy, Leo Leon, Sami and Tina choosing their space from my ‘office’ desk catio.

My new love of cats started with a surprise. One day we discovered a stray cat had birthed two kittens in our workshop – on the concrete floor. Of course the first thing I did was pick them up….oooops! They were so tiny I could hold them both in one hand. Their eyes and ears were still closed. I placed a towel on the floor, put them back and placed food and water. Mama Cat was not impressed and promptly moved them.

I was devastated. What had I done? Where were they? Were they OK?

You see I was a dog person all my life. I’d never been interested in cats so I acted as I would have if they were puppies. We had decided we needed time to figure out a forever home for them with someone else…. hahaha…. they end up being my first cats and never left the property!

Tina and Soots: Birthed in our workshop and together forever.

Unfortunately during this period I had a serious injury and so when the time was right to socialize them we couldn’t. Everyone was in a mad rush caring for me in ICU and then in recovery at home. In the meantime Mama Cat began to trust us. Luckily, she had chosen to move them into another smaller workshop room nearby. She grew accustomed to our daily call-outs “Hola Mama” then we’d quietly bring food into the room for her and the kittens (who always hid). The room became off limits to everyone else.

Eventually it became well overdue to catch the kittens and bring them inside. Oh, how they hated that! They were traumatised and in shock. They only knew the confines of that little room and had not been handled by people. They ended up in my bathroom. I had to get these bizarre puppy like things to trust me and to make sure my indoor dog Rosa would learn to accept them. That took countless hours of singing gently and feeding each kitten and then Rosa small pieces of chicken. Dad had made a chicken wire door to fit my bathroom door so the kittens could be locked in safely but still see out of the bathroom. I’d push chicken pieces to Rosa through the wire and she learned that if she waited for me to give the kittens a yummy piece of chicken, then she’d get one too! Kittens now meant she got yummy treats! It worked brilliantly but took a long time.

Rosa sharing her sofa with Tina and Soots.

My bathroom is small so it became apparent another secure space was needed for the kittens before I could trust them to safely roam the cottage freely. I had to make sure they would not hide from me or trigger Rosa when playing with high energy. That’s when the catio idea came up. God Bless the internet and my Dad’s new love of cats!

An internal wire door fitted to the bathroom serves as a safe introduction room for new cats. Above is Sami 10 days after we trapped him, he was dumped and very hungry and nervous.

I showed Dad videos and pictures of catios I’d found on youtube and pinterest and other websites. They were all shapes and sizes, some were even mobile and attached to RV’s and caravans! I suggested building a walk-in catio the cats could access from my bathroom window. He figured out a design and for the next couple of weeks was intensely supervised by two kittens staring at him through the window. They became fluent in builders cussing and those long strange pauses men take when staring at a piece of carpentry that doesn’t quite do what it was designed to do. It was hilarious. Dad was their Cat TV Soap Opera and they really enjoyed the daily show.

Oma and Opa! Tina chilling in the first catio Dad built with BoyBoy. I love having extra kitty litter boxes outside! This catio leading off from the bathroom window has been used as a hospital, taming space and a pleasurable spot for the cats to enjoy.

Fast forward in time to the Catio Palace today.

My cottage now has 6 catios and a 6m cat walk! All either built by my father or funded by him. Catio’s became a pawsome family obsession. Our houses are a few metres apart so with the Catwalk we even have adjoining catios! My parents now have 4 indoor cats of their own and have made their home a Catio Palace.

One of my parents cats visiting me from the catwalk. We can open and lock doors so their cats and mine don’t get into territorial fights with each other but enjoy exploring.

Catio’s can be made to fit anyone’s situation. They give cats the best of both worlds – the safety of indoors and the stimulation and sunshine of outdoors. Frequently my cats see something fascinating from one catio window then race off to another to track it’s movements. Their Cat TV is intense!

Soots, BoyBoy and Tina loving their new catwalk which leads to another large catio adjoining my parents catios.

At night they can hunt bugs that flitter around the catio night lights. Lucky me, I frequently wake up to find a moth or some other hunting trophy on my lounge floor with 2 or 3 cats crouched around it! They go into full hunt mode and prowl around with their treasures… uggghh!!! The compensation is that I know they are safe, the birds nesting around our homes are safe and my cats are thoroughly engaged in their natural instincts.

Click on video above: Tina enjoying watching wild birds and the chickens, including a Mama hen with 5 chicks.
My beloved Soots staring at me with his funny face. Tina is poking her head out of the window. Along with Sami and BoyBoy they were still getting used to mischievous Leo Leon wearing the introduction harness.

My cottage also has the added security of the catios being built around all my windows – anyone trying to break in has the hassle of trying to cut through the catio wire making a lot of noise. I have 5 dogs with their own hunting instincts to sort that fool out!

Safe inside at last! Cindy’s story is why I prefer my cats to be indoors.

And Mama Cat?

Well my parents adopted her. She won’t come inside just yet but she is our Chief Mouser. We have no problem with feed sacks being chewed into by mice and rats anymore. We also think she is softening up to the idea of retiring into a Catio Palace one day. She really does love us, she has a lot to say especially about her preferred menu selection of food my Mom brings her but that’s OK, she’s also very helpful in the garden!

Mama Cat is a family treasure, she gave me Soots and Tina my first cats!