I’m still amazed that our “cat prison” is so unostentatious. Of course it’s not invisible, but I guess that many people passing our house have never noticed it.
Keep in mind that our balcony is at the center of attention on this picture. I first wanted to show the exterior wall as a whole, but didn’t feel comfortable displaying our house. So you’ve to take my word that our balcony doesn’t really stick out if you don’t focus on it.
The net is actually really invisible, but you can see the poles. I originally wanted to buy adjustable metallic poles, but I’m glad I listened to Karin from the Catio Tales who advised me on getting wooden poles. Metallic poles are not only more expensive and visible, but also harder to work with. I did pay a little extra to get high-qualitative wood: the poles are designed for fences and will thus withstand snow and rain (famous last words?). I paid about 70 € ($80) for the wood.
Just because you like the balcony better on sunny days, doesn’t mean that I share your preferences. I like cold and wet surfaces a lot! Didn’t you know that cats are aquatic animals? Or where did you think the saying “it’s raining cats and dogs” comes from?
Good news! We’ve more than one source of income! Our backyard chicks are growing nicely, but our house offers so much more: some birds are still breeding on the roof! The chicks are flapping their wings, eager and helpless at the same time. Oh, we are right underneath, and try to encourage them to take the next step!
You may remember that we live on the top floor…
Come on, little fellow, spread your wings and dare to fly for the very first time in your life! We will take good care of you!
Indeed, wonderful times ahead, I better get started to prepare myself. I know that Mom laughs about my in-or-out indecision, but Carefulness Saved The Cat! I think I’ll be on the balcony in about 1,5 hours – just about time when our visitor arrives, I think.
A last smarty-pants post on the balcony: make sure to double-check poisonous plants to cats! I was lucky enough that I only lost money, but I could have ended up with an injured cat too.
I was very disappointed when I found out that I bought toxic flowers. I actually spend a lot of time in the flower shop, checking each plant I liked. I relied on a well-recognized and seemingly reliable source: ASPCA . While I do believe that ASPCA is in general a very good reference, mistakes happen to the best of us.
I fell in love with these flowers and checked the latin name Gypsophila elegans on ASPCA’s webpages. “Non-toxic to cats”. Great!
However, I accidentally found out that ASPCA had two articles on Gypsophila elegans under its common names Baby’s Breath and Maiden’s Breath.
Source: Aspca , 06/25/17
The latin name is identical so we are dealing with the very same flower – but one is toxic and the other non-toxic. Obviously, ASPCA made a mistake here.
I didn’t mean to shame a great society, and I’m sure that they do put a lot of effort into their great list of toxic plants. However, mistakes do happen, and I’ve definitely learned a lesson: to double-check. Keep in mind that many webpages (including blogs) refer to ASPCA, so double-checking doesn’t help when both websites use the same source!
Opinions and research on toxic plants to cats differ, and you’re likely to find contradictory statements. Oh yes, I spend many hours googling a replacement for my flowers. In the end, I had a small list of flowers which a) most sources considered non-toxic, b) I liked, c) were not too expensive and d) suitable for sub-arctic climate and an eastward balcony.
P.S. I already emailed ASPCA and asked them to control their entries on Gypsophila elegans. I’m sure they do their best to keep their pages updated and reliable!
Okay, we do admit that Mom made a great effort to catify our balcony, but keep in mind that she wanted to build a cuboid. We only demanded free access to the balcony, nothing more.
She also needs to become more efficient; it took her two days to build the cube. Way too long! Indeed, Kajsa and I were not satisfied. Mom took this picture while she was “working” on the balcony and saw two impatient cats through the window.
Don’t really understand how she had the nerves to take pictures – shouldn’t she spent all her time on her work? Would she play with her smart phone if her boss supervised her at work? Certainly not. Bah.
However, we were thrilled when she finally opened the balcony door! Kajsa, our Queen of Indecision stood the first hour on three legs in the living room holding the fourth paw through the door frame. The important decision “in or out” always requires a very long working process.
I again was very excited about exploring the world from our balcony. So many new perspectives and views! So I spent the entire evening on the window sill, observing the living room through the balcony window.
Can’t really understand why Mom got so annoyed. She normally complains that we ignore things she does for us. So here we were, on the window sill and in the door frame, exploring the world, appreciating our new freedom and her hard work, but she was still frustrated ?!?
Turned out that she wanted us to look at something else than the living room and the door frame. Human logic … wasn’t it her who enjoyed observing us in the living room earlier that day? And doesn’t she always stress that we’ve to be careful when exploring new places? So what is wrong with Kajsa’s careful decision-making process and me observing the living room? Sigh.
Catproofing the balcony of our new apartment was very tricky.
It’s relatively easy to cat-proof a balcony when you’re not living on the top floor: in most cases, you only need to lattice the distance between the handrail and the balcony above. And best of all – you can actually buy adjustable poles to fasten a cat net without drilling! Simple, effective and surprisingly cheap. (I had no idea that it was so easy and cheap to secure standard balconies, so I thought that some of you may find this information helpful)
We faced several challenges: first, we live on the top floor, so our balcony doesn’t have a roof. Second, I wasn’t allowed to drill holes into the outer wall. And third, but not last: a 10 cm gap (for snow / water) between the floor and the handrail. Plus some smaller problems which are too complicated to explain here. Thank you “Äiti” Karin, for your help – she actually designed our catio!
The basic design is a cuboid of wooden poles. I fastened the net with a staple gun to the poles. The frame itself is secured with cable tiers to the ceiling.
Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons
I put under each corner clothespins to allow water running underneath the bottom poles.
The white wall is attached to the exterior wall of the house with small joints – perfect for cable tiers!
I also had to secure the white wall because of this 10 cm gap between floor and wall.
The clothes rack was a perfect opportunity to attach the upper pole to the wall.
I paid about 150 € for the material (not including tools and transportation). I took my time to choose the wooden poles: it’s often more expensive and very time-consuming to buy cheap wood because you need to protect it with waterproof paint. I recommend fence material as fences are typically designed to resist the weather of your region!
Please pay attention to different sorts of cat nets – you need a material animals can’t bite through. I wrote “animals” instead of “cats” for a reason: even if your cats don’t have teeth, you’ll still need to protect your net against squirrels and other animals!
I’ve no idea how I succeeded, but I actually build the catio all by myself without any help (apart from the design). You’ll need a power drill and staple gun to save a lot of time and nerves.