Safe and enriching cat enclosures


Expert Builder Series #9 With Affordable Catios

Expert Builder Series

This is the ninth 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.

Affordable Catios

Bob Powell is the owner / operator / designer / builder of Affordable Catios based in Austin, Texas. When it comes to catios, Bob can do it all. Small, LARGE, modern, rustic, Tuscan, simple, elegant, whimsical, you name it. Coupling Bob’s vast talent with that of The Cat Carpenter (see Expert Builder Series #3), probably makes Austin the best city on the planet to build a custom catio. Get to it, Austinites!

Questions & Answers

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

Pressure treated pine for framing and decking, and southern yellow pine for the lounging ledges. Cedar trim on all exterior framing which is either stained a natural cedar tone or painted to match the existing surrounding color scheme. On many occasions, I use western red cedar exclusively, which offers a beautiful look that no other material can offer. 1/2′′ welded wire hardware cloth to “screen in” the wall sections often combined with PetScreen, durable polyester fibers coated in a very tough vinyl, “Very Tuff Stuff”. I like the look and durability of polycarbonate roofing panels which reduces harmful UV rays while still allowing light through.

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

    i. Understand the total cost of ownership (material selection, labor to install and maintenance costs) = Good Value


Less expensive material may be selected to keep the initial cost down but lumber that splits, twisted and warps costs more in the long run when it needs to be replaced and reinstalled and can just look bad = Poor Value.

ii. Design to last while ensuring safety, comfort, ease of use and ease of maintenance.

iii. Go through the arduous process of hand selecting every single piece of lumber you plan to use and understand exactly how each piece fits in the design and install it properly. Have a detailed plan.

  1. Do you have a favorite catio story?

One particular client reached out to me with her story of rescuing 19 cats which over time, occupied just about every room in her house. Her husband, being the most patient guy, loves her very much. He suggested an outdoor enclosure for the cats. We agreed on a design and started building. One day, she checked in with me. I thanked her for the project and how this would help save the cats. She thanked me and said with tears in her eyes, that not only are we saving these cats, but that I was saving their marriage. She is one very happy new catio owner. Oh, the cats are loving it too!

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