The adoption of Sofi and Sable from Furry Friends prompted Nanis Gilmore and Philip Parshley to build their own, scaled down version of a kitty “catio.”

Seeing the satisfaction the pair derived from sitting on the windowsill or backslider window gazing out at the garden and the myriad visiting birds was all the inspiration they needed. As a volunteer at Portland Audubon remotely, Nanis is extremely concerned about the loss of birds due to cat predation, and recalling the window boxes at our shelter house, decided that a “deluxe” window box best suited their own kitties.

Their north-facing window proved ideal for two reasons: Sofi and Sable could watch the Gilmores whenever they worked in the garden and feast their feline eyes on the many birds and feeders nearby. The couple constructed their “catio” mainly of 2 x 2 cedar planks with 2 x 4’s for added strength, and used polycarbonate for the roof. A window insert complete with a cat door and flap at the same level as the windowsill allows for easy access to the structure, the flooring is made of 3/8” plywood, and the screening is a high quality window screen designed especially for pets. Several levels of shelves for climbing are attached with screws and metal brackets to the walls and sturdy outdoor carpeting stapled to them for comfort.

Last but not least, the Gilmores installed a large “people” door on the outside that allows them to wash the window, clean the catio and, if needed, rescue one or both kitties in an emergency.

To say that their custom designed “catio” has won paws up in approval from Sofi and Sable would be an understatement. Not only have they eagerly explored every shelf, they love lazing away the days in the warmth of the sun and spend more time out there now than inside the house.

As for Nanis, she hopes that their DIY project will inspire others to construct their own “catios” in an ongoing effort to protect both birds and cats from other predators.


This story was written by Nomi Berger who is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She is a volunteer writer for Furry Friends in Vancouver, WA and also volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA. She lives with her adopted Maltese named Mini.

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