Live Streaming of Catio
History of My Catios
When I first got Zeus in 2008, I would take him outside on leash in the backyard to let him run. When I got Phoebe in 2009, I started training them to roam free in the backyard, but Zeus could jump a six foot high vinyl fence with no problem. That resulted in me chasing him through yards and neighborhoods. Even staying out all night looking for him. Phoebe could only jump, or climb, a five foot high wooden fence – she did it once while near term with seven kittens!! Because they wouldn’t stay in the backyard, but wanted to go outside all the time I decided to attach a metal dog kennel to the house with a doggy door leading into it. This way whether I was sleeping, at work or just relaxing, the kitties could go outside anytime that they wanted to enjoy fresh air and watch the birdies. That kennel was left at that house which I did not own.
The metal kennel of the current catio was purchased when I lived at another house and it was a basic dog kennel with no roof. I built a roof for it from corrugated steel roof panels with a 2×4 wood frame and inner 2×4 straight cut wood bracing. I attached that securely to the metal kennel with metal u-bolts, not because I thought the cats could lift the 200+ pound roof, but because of the neighborhood where I lived and my backyard was not secure and Wi-Fi cameras didn’t exist at that time.
The Ultimate Catio
My current house is very small with small windows. All of the kitties crowd around the windows to look outside, especially where there are bird feeders. I have installed claw-resistant window screens, but those are not escape proof, so no window is left open unless I am in that room. During 2016 the cats earned enough money to pay for their very own custom catio. The kitties were always bugging me to go outside, especially Phoebe, so I made plans with my brother to design and build a catio attached to my house.
We designed this catio with the safety and comfort of the cats in mind so that they might enjoy the outdoors and not have to worry about other animals. The doors of the interior cathouse within the catio still need to be finished. Once the sliding doors have been installed, the two Litter Robot Open Air units that are inside the house will be placed in the catio with one on each level.
Cathouse Designed to Separate Cats When Needed
There are two cat doors leading from inside the house to different levels of the cathouse within the catio. One door is near floor level in the house, this one is for Zeus. He is heavier and as he gets older, he will not want to climb the cat tree inside the house to use the door located near the ceiling which actually leads out onto the roof of the cathouse within the catio. There is a large open area within the catio so that heat may rise away from the enclosed cathouse. Depending on how hot it gets inside the catio, I may add a Solar Attic Exhaust Fan on the roof at the high end. Summer of 2018 will be the first trial of a hot season.
If the need arises to separate some cats from each other, or a cat is placed in time out for a bit, I can close off access to each litter box/food area. The design of the cathouse makes it very easy to keep a cat, or cats, in one area with their own litter box, food and water, plus a view to the outside. This will come in handy if a cat is being treated after surgery or with meds in their food/water. This will also make it possible to collect feces from a cat for the vet. With the top cat door near the ceiling inside the house, it is also possible to have an enclosed cat walk for cats to come inside, but be separated from other cats. If needed, this could be encased with Plexiglas so that there is no saliva cross contamination and no urine or feces are dropped onto the floor below. The cats don’t currently do that and I don’t own any monkeys, just thinking about all possibilities.
Creature Comforts for All Seasons
As previously mentioned, I will add a solar powered attic vent fan if needed during hot weather. It will have a thermostat so that it will only turn on when needed. We don’t want cold drafts being pulled through the catio freezing the kitties! During the colder months a thermostat controlled heater will be placed on the bottom level of the cathouse. If needed, another unit will be placed on the second level. At my previous house, I successfully heated the cathouse inside the kennel using a small ceramic heater from a local DIY store. Even though the heater has a tip over turn off function, I still secured it in placed with a heavy L bracket. The heaters I use are always cool to the touch. I never buy units where the exterior heats up or blows extremely hot air. All three levels of the cathouse and in the open area of the catio have GFCI outlets, and power to the entire unit has a quick shutoff switch nearby.
Atop the cathouse in the open area are cat beds of various sizes. Within each level of the cathouse are also beds. As you will see on camera, there is a cat tree, and more beds and perches will be added for the kitties viewing pleasure. Around the outside of the catio are several catnip plants which grow very tall every season. These are close enough for the cats to reach through the welded wire kennel to grab a leaf or two for a treat. This is Phoebe’s favorite part of the catio! Hanging from the catio roof eaves is a bird feeder so that the cats may watch their favorite subject. The birds love the feeder and seem to know that the cats can’t get them. A long time ago I purchased a bird feeder that is meant for a window that sits inside the house. The birds enter the platform of the feeder to eat and the cats can watch through one way mirrors. Since the birds can’t see the cats, they continue to eat and return. I plan on mounting this in the upper area of the catio where it is dark so the birds will not see the cats being back-lit by daylight.
Purrfect Location for All Cats
The catio sits on the South side of my house. This affords full Sun all year long starting early in the morning and lasting until late evening during the Summer. Cats can choose to roll on the cool cement in the morning, which Zeus loves to do, or sit high up atop the cat tree when it’s bright outside, or anywhere in-between. There’s always a spot to sun themselves.
If a cat gets scared, it’s a quick leap from the cat tree up to the top of the cathouse, or a quick dive through the lower level cat door. As the catnip plants grow, they will provide shade, places to hide and watch, and help keep the lower levels of the catio cooler. Not to mention the medicinal benefits of catnip they enjoy (wink, wink!).
Live Streaming of Catio
Currently the only view is from the top of the cathouse looking downward inside the catio. This view is for my piece of mind as I can watch live anytime, playback all history and download clips. While I do have other cameras around the exterior of my house and property, the POV from inside the catio lets me see activity right up against it. Once the Litter Robots are placed inside the cathouse, there will be a live stream on one of those units. In the future I might add another camera pointing inward or maybe at the lounge atop the cathouse. It just depends on how much activity there is and where the cats hang out the most.
Phoebe and Finn are the two cats that you will usually see on camera, but occasionally you might spot Zeus or Helios. In a month or two, you might see Athena and Willow out there once they have recovered from their surgeries after being spayed. Since the catio faces Southwest with full sun from morning into late evening (during Summer months), you will be able to see shadows move as the Sun crosses the Sky. I will be adding more perches and beds once the sliding doors have been installed and possible some LED lighting so that you will be able to identify which cat is sitting in the high bed atop the cat tree (usually Finn). Helios has been known to hang out on the floor of the catio, but it’s rare so count yourself lucky if you spot him.
All Seasons Cameras
No need to worry about darkness as the catio cameras can see in complete darkness, no external lighting needed, not even Moonlight. The cameras switch automatically as the lighting changes around the clock. After watching for a while you might be able to recognize all of the cats at night when viewed with infrared lighting. Two easy ones to spot are Zeus, due to his size, and Finn, due to his kinked tail which is usually curled at the end. Good luck with the rest of them!
So sit back and enjoy watching all of the Ginger Kitties Four cats have fun in their custom built catio! Be sure to share this with your friends and on all of your social media pages.
Pictures of the exterior will be added in the near future.
During warmer months, you may hear a very loud machine noise. That is the central AC unit next to the Catio. Don’t worry, it’s actually quiet as it’s a new unit installed during August 2016. The reason it may sound very loud is because the camera microphone is very sensitive and amplifies sounds. You may also hear children playing and people talking. Those are my neighbors in their yards around my neighborhood. Every so often, you will hear the Litter Robot Open Air cycling to clean itself (it sounds like a can opener).