Cool Catio on a Budget


Project at a Glance

  • Easy
  • Inexpensive
  • Provide the outdoors safely
  • One of the best things you’ll ever do for your cat!

This has to be one of the most fun projects I’ve done for my cats. The rewards are incredible: our two indoor cats began to enjoy the outdoors safely and they took to it right away. Often, catios are expensive to purchase or have custom-built, but this catio can be made at a very reasonable price—the structure is made from four pre-fab chicken coops that range from only $80-200 each.

For this project there are no downloadable instructions, because the catio should be  assembled to your own configuration that works for you. We wanted a little running space and a little climbing space. Have a look:

Note that your entrance might be a window (like ours has) and you’ll need to create an “entryway” that works from your height window into the first coop. Or, you may need the entrance to be from a door, a sliding door, or even a wall. There are great cat doors created for each of those configurations.

We bought much of our catio locally and we had plastic panels custom cut by Ocean Plastic Products and Tap Plastics online may be a good resource if you don’t have such a shop near you.

Here’s a list of the parts that we used to create our catio…


As your following the manufacturer’s instructions, don’t install the panels where you need a connection to the next.

We also swapped-out some of the latches and hasps, which was purely an aesthetic choice.

And the rest were finishing touches and things that met our own needs for form and function…


We used stain on all our pieces before assembling, then touched-up after our structure was put together.


If you need to design a structure to align your opening with the catio, you’ll need these things:

Roof garden

We wanted to add a little style with a roof that needed little watering


Don’t forget cozy bedding and a litterbox. And perhaps the most comical aspect of our catio project was us walking down the train tracks searching for a big fallen branch. We needed one that was the full height of the tower of the catio so that our cats would have something to climb (and a place to hang the cat hammock!). We lugged the thing back, trimmed it to fit and it looks like a real tree. I still chuckle.


See my gardening tips on plants that repel fleas. Those and the cedar mulch keep the area smelling and looking fantastic and they greatly reduce any chance of fleas popping up on the cats.

If you create another chicken-coop catio, please submit a photo, I’d love to see and post it!