How to Build a Catio on a Balcony: An Easy Guide

cat sleeping on catio

Catios are nothing but patios for cats where a special enclosure is constructed for them to spend some time in the sun and get some fresh air. The main purpose of a catio is to provide an enclosed space that lets the outside air in. Building catios on balconies have become increasingly common these days as they provide a safe and secure environment for your cats to play in.

To build a catio on a balcony, your priority is to provide protection to your cats from falling off the edges. You can build one from scratch by having a wire mesh to protect the cat from falling and spruce up the space with a cat tunnel, a cat bed, and water bowls.

A catio can have everything that your furry friend may need to spend some time outdoors and play in the sun. In this article, we will be looking at how you can construct a catio with a few simple items. Keep on reading to find out more.

Determine the Amount of Space

As a first step, you will need to first clear up your balcony and access the amount of space that you will need to build the catio. You will also need to bear in mind that you do not need to take up your entire balcony to make the catio. There must be some space for you as well. So, figuring out how much space is at your disposal to build the catio is the first step.

Safety of Closed Balconies

In the case of closed balconies, the common perception is it is, by default, a safe haven. In the winters, when you keep the windows closed, this may be the case, but during the summers, when you will tend to keep the windows open, there may be a few additional things you need to do to take precautions on behalf of your cat.

Cats can leap out of windows that are the slightest bit ajar, and in case it attempts to but cannot, then there is a chance that its head may get stuck in the window casing. To avoid this, you can build a mesh frame around the window which lets the fresh air in but keeps your cat away from harm, or in case your balcony is large enough, build a cage-like catio inside the balcony.

Safety of Open Balconies

For open balconies having a catio that provides safety to your cat is vital. You could use a cat-proof mesh fencing to close off the entire balcony. This will allow air and sun to filter in, while at the same time, preventing your cat from jumping out. The entire area where your cat will have access will also need to be fenced in a similar fashion.

If, on the other hand, you build a cage-like catio, you can build the same type of fencing, but it will be for the individual enclosure and will not extend to the entire balcony. This is a better option as it will not take over the entire balcony area.

READ ALSO: Are Balconies Safe for Cats?

Use Catio Panels

You can install catio panels to cordon off a certain area in the balcony and then build the catio there. This will give your cat an added sense of space as your cat will be able to explore not just inside the catio but also in the enclosed space outside safely.

This way, it will also limit the catio to the enclosed portion of the balcony and you will not have to give up the entire area for the catio.

Plan the Design

The basic design for a catio necessitates the robustness of the structure. Cats love to go up and down tall structures. Keep these things in mind when you design your catio. Of course, there are many options available in the market as well and you can get inspired by the varied designs available there and build one that suits your requirements.

The Petsfit Weatherproof Outdoor Cat Shelter is beautifully designed like a small house and has a removable bottom floor for easier cleaning. If you are looking to build a catio from scratch, you can look up the video below for ideas of how you plan to design and furnish it.

Building the Catio

In order to build the catio, you will need to simply follow these steps:

  1. Create a frame using two-by-fours nailed together.
  2. Place one frame vertically over another and space them a couple of feet apart to reinforce the catio walls.
  3. Attach planks horizontally at the top to build the ceiling with the help of brackets and braces.
  4. Next, for the fencing, use a heavy-duty staple to secure the mesh to the frame and the back wall.

You can even add a kitty flap on your back door to make the catio accessible to your cat anytime she wants to step into her catio rather than make her wait for someone to open the door for her to access it.  

By installing tunnels, you will provide added interesting features to the catio. Cats love tunnels and they are easy to make. You can use a curved metal surface or wood, or even cloth to build this catio tunnel.

Add Furnishings

Once you have built the basic structure of the catio, you can start with the furnishings and add lounge areas inside your balcony patio by placing simple wooden insertions that your cats can use to lounge in the sun.

Adding wooden planks like stairs can also help connect between two lounge areas in a vertical catio. You can add these stairs like regular stairs, or they can be small wooden landings connecting one lounge area to the next.

Additional Features

Other additional features that your cat is bound to love are ledges. You can fence it with a mesh as ledges are usually in high places and the risk of falling is also great. Your cat will have the best time of its day on a properly secured ledge.

If the place permits, you can even add cat scratchers for your feline friend to use as it lazes in the sun. Cat beds are also essential if you are going the whole nine yards to provide every sort of comfort for your cat. Make a comfortable cat bed with soft plush materials and leave it in a sunny spot under the sun for your cat to relax on.

Other must-haves for a catio are the three designated areas – one for water, one for food, and the last for litter. If your cat is going to spend a lot of time in the catio, it needs to have a steady supply of water and food. Place the bowls where they frequent the most in the catio. The litter box can also be put inside an inconspicuous place for the cat to use while it is in the catio.


A smaller size of your apartment or balcony should not stop you from building out a catio for your cats. There are options for building one using wire or mesh and screens that you can use around the railings and in the ceiling area above to make a safe haven for your pet. You can also make stand-alone pre-enclosures made of wood and chicken wire. These are simple and easy to make and will be enjoyed by your cats for a long time.

LaShawn Toyoda

I love home decor, DIY, and gardening. During my free time I enjoy looking for new ways to improve my home so that it's more organized, comfortable, and relaxing. My apartment in Japan has a small balcony with a great view. I created this site to share and get ideas for how to decorate and better utilize my balcony space.

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