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  • Gopal Phil Sittnick

A Catio Designed for Elderly Cats

I recently had a customer with two elderly cats, aged 15 and 16. She was excited about providing an outdoor space for these two long-term companions. She was also concerned that the features I incorporated into their catio be age-appropriate. She asked that the jumps, ramps and other features be easy for older cats to negotiate. I conferred with her along the way to ensure she thought my designs were negotiable for her cats, even as they continued to age. I did suggest, too, though, that it should not be overly easy, as good exercise will help the cats maintain their health and mobility. I believe the completed design will meet their needs through their Golden Years.


The catio is 5.5' x 5' x 9'. We utilized an existing dog door, which I modified for only cats (and possibly a very small dog someday).

The catio has many platforms and shelves at various heights, but no jumps higher than 17". Most are 12" or even less.

All of the ramps have a fairly gentle slope, and indoor/outdoor carpet is applied for better traction.

The largest platform is a triangularly shaped one in the highest, most secluded corner. I tried to make the "prime real estate" somewhat challenging to access to promote their mobility.

Blurry close-up shows a detail I added at the customer's request, when she felt one jump was perhaps a bit too high. "Kitty steps" provide an assist in both directions.

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I like to look at other people's catios for ideas, and I follow several catio groups and builders on social media. I think the most diverse--and perhaps even a bit controversial--aspect of catio desig