April Andrews grew up with family dogs but when she worked at Powell River SPCA, she fell in love with a kitten whose mom had been rescued before giving birth. She wanted Charlie to have the best life with exposure to the outdoors in a safe manner.
Since adopting Charlie, his sister Hannah has joined the family.
When Andrews moved into her current home about a year ago, she asked her landlord if she could have a catio erected. She hadn’t heard of them until she actually had cats of her own.
“It was built before I actually moved in,” said Andrews, “and is being enjoyed by my two cats.”
For years, Andrews said she didn’t understand cat people.
“I thought they were weird and now I am one.”
She buys paper to build tents for her cats to play under and other special paper that makes a crinkly sound when they scratch at it.
Charlie and Hannah love to go out on their catio through their cat door, lie in the sun, watch the birds in the yard and breathe in fresh air.
“They can hear the sounds of nature in a nice private spot and do their own cat yoga,” Andrews added with a smile.
Her partner Simon Gogniat has built two catios for other people with a third one on the go.
“I explore ideas and go over the prospective designs with clients,” he explained. “This new one is 12 feet high, eight feet wide and five feet deep. It has a full-sized door so the owner can go into it and be with her two cats. It includes an alder tree with a spiral staircase, so it is quite elaborate.”
The catio is built with generic 2 x 4 studs, stucco wire and corrugated plastic for a roof and will be painted by the client.
Gogniat, who grew up in Powell River before moving to Ontario with his family, recently moved back. He has previously owned a couple cats.
While in Ottawa, he worked for a construction company framing 3,600-square-feet homes. He helped his parents, who also moved back to this community, build their retirement home after they cleared the land and had the lumber milled locally.
“So many cats that roam have gone missing,” said Andrews. “With a catio they are safe and so are birds because cats kill millions of them every year. And people don’t have to contend with cat poo in their gardens.”
Gogniat said by city ordinance in Toronto, cats are not allowed outside unless they are on a leash.
“Many communities are starting to adopt similar methods to control cat populations,” he added.
Anyone interested in a catio is invited to contact Andrews and Gogniat at email@example.com. Estimates and consulting are free.