Safe and enriching cat enclosures

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Expert Builder Q&A #2 With Cynthia Chomos

Expert Builder Series

This is the second Q&A in a series of interviews with catio experts from around the world. My hope is to learn from the best catio builders on the planet and pass on that knowledge far and wide.

Cynthia Chomos of Catio Spaces

Seattle based Cynthia Chomos (the Catio Queen), the owner/operator of Catio Spaces, would be a first ballot Catio Hall Of Famer if one existed. Few people have done more to spread the word about the importance of safe outdoor environments for cats than Cynthia. Further, she is the unquestioned leader in providing DIY plans for aspiring catio builders. With a background in Feng Shui, however, it’s her custom projects that truly stand out. Hope you enjoy this interview with one of the best catio builders on the planet.

Questions & Answers

1. What materials do you generally use? Anything unique?

Wood selection is determined by my client’s preference based on maintenance, aesthetics, and whether the wood is painted or stained. 14-gauge, galvanized welded wire in varying grid sizes. Tight knot cedar wood for shelving (smooth side up), outdoor carpet, cat enrichment accessories and décor. Each project is customized to complement my client’s home and garden.

2. Can you please share three best practices and/or tips you’ve developed over time?

• Safety First – Protecting my client’s property, cats and my carpentry crew is a priority. It’s always important to do a diligent review of the catio, building location, driveway and yard to remove any screws, wire, etc. during and at the end of the job.

• Design – When designing a catio for single or multiple cats with varying ages, mobility, and health issues, I always “think like a cat” and include low, high and horizontal movement for shelves, ramps, and spacious perches for lounging and birdwatching. I try to avoid “dead ends” and design the space based on the location of the cat and human access into the catio.

• Follow-up with your clients. Email or call clients to inquire how their cats are acclimating to their catio, favorite spots, changes in cat’s behavior, etc. and do a follow-up visit for photos, or have your client send them to you.

3. Do you have a favorite catio story?

One of my most unique projects is the “Colorful Catio Menagerie”, a series of catios for an artistic client who lives in a purple house in a secluded, wooded area. She loves bright colors, nature, and of course, her cats, so I designed the catio complex as garden art and painted them to complement her personality. The project started with an 8×10 deck “cabana” catio that led to 3 additional catios and 150 feet of elevated catwalk tunnels. Her four lucky cats can travel from one catio to the next and completely circumnavigate around the house. Cat access is through 4 cats doors located in various rooms in the house. A happy client and happy cats – the project makes me smile every time I think about it!

Photo credit: Catio Spaces. (link: www.CatioSpaces.com)
Photo credit: Catio Spaces. (link: www.CatioSpaces.com)
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