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Chicken Wire Ok For A Catio?

Discussion in 'Grooming & General Cat Care' started by amethyst, Aug 6, 2019.

  1. amethyst

    amethyst Thread Starter TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Nov 25, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    After losing a cat last month in the middle of the day, I have become more paranoid about letting my cats out. One has figured out I am only allowing outside time when I am outside with her and has started to no longer comes when called, so I'm think of building a catio. I have pretty much no money to do so, but I can salvage some wood from the old wooden fences and broken down lean-tos on the property. What I am really wondering about is fencing material, is old fashion style chicken wire ok to use? If so would it be better to go with 1"? or would 2" mesh be ok? (2" is cheaper) I see a lot these catios with the welded steel mesh type fencing, but that is very expensive, I can get a roll of chicken wire for a fraction of the price. I'm going to have to start out small, something like a 3" wide x 6" long x 6" high enclosure for now, but I'll add on later when I have money.

    I have lots of land, but not much room for something directly connecting to the house. I want something connected to a window that the cats and come and go as they please, not an enclosure I have to carry them to and from. Out the most accessible window I can only go about 3 feet out from the house otherwise I'm cutting off too much of the primary access to the back of the property, but can make it 20+ ft long if I had the money.
     
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  2. Maria Bayote

    Maria Bayote Mama of 4 Cats, 3 Dogs , 2 Budgies & 2 Humans Top Cat

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    Personally I think it's ok, as long as you make sure there are no cut wires at the edges that can accidentally prick any of your cats. In my old apartment that was the material used by my husband to make a mini catio in one of the big windows. Maybe our other TCS members can suggest something too.
     

  3. Norachan

    Norachan Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Using recycled timber for a catio is a great idea. Most of the outdoor cat trees and shelters I made for my cats are from recycled wood. Make sure any nails or anything else sharp is pulled out, sand off any old paint and use an outdoor wood preserver to treat the wood. I use a preserver that is marked "Stable safe" If it's OK for using around horse or cows it won't harm the cats if they scratch it.

    I used green nylon netting, sold over here as deer or boar netting. It's very cheap but strong too. Also easy to cut with scissors and light enough to move around by yourself. This makes making stuff much easier that trying to haul and cut wire.

    NewHouse20.jpg

    Make sure you dig down a couple of inches and bury the bottom of the mesh. I used tent pegs to hold it down. Cats will try and squeeze under the fence if they can, and I've had problems with other wildlife trying to dig their way in too.

    What are you going to use for the roof? Do you get a lot of snow in your area? You need to think about a sloping roof, something strong enough to stand up to a couple of inches (or more) of snow.

    Let us know how it goes.

    :goodluck:
     

  4. darg

    darg Gizmo Adult Cat

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    We don't actually have a catio but we sectioned off a small portion of the back porch to allow the strays/ferals access to shelter from the rain and cold. We feed them in there and provide some heat in the "winter". There are 4 regulars that use it at present, including 3 kittens. At any rate, that area of the porch was already screened in as well, but I used the galvanized, welded wire and I want to say it was the 1/2" x 1/2". It's like the wire they use as the "floor" of rabbit cages. It wasn't cheap (and more expensive now) but we didn't need a whole lot. We went that route instead of chicken wire because it's far more stiff and sturdy. Since we used the existing structure to attach the wire to, the sections we needed to span required a stiffer wire and chicken wire would have ultimately been floppy and become distorted because it's just not stiff enough to span the space between the framing.

    If you can build so that the open areas that the wire needs to span aren't too large, you can probably get away with chicken wire. Well, you can probably get away with it anyway if aesthetics aren't a top priority. Just my thoughts on it anyway.
     

  5. Dacatchair

    Dacatchair TCS Member Adult Cat

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    I am also looking for less expensive wire options, but have read cats can sometimes get claws caught in chicken wire and be seriously hurt, so am hesitant to go this route. If I was using chicken wire, I would for sure use 1 inch, and only if it was a space that would be used when I could supervise. I have seen the 2 inch get stretched by small animals trying to access my vegie garden, and would be scared of a cat getting their head caught in the 2 inch. I am also looking at nylon netting options, but so far everything I can find here is either way too flimsy and would snag birds, or it is just as expensive as 1 inch chicken wire. One inch chicken wire is about 1/2 the cost of the 2 inch welded wire I have used so far...
     
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  6. Willowy

    Willowy TCS Member Top Cat

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    Do you have a lot of coyotes in the area? If so, you might want to put welded wire fencing on the bottom part of the enclosure. But chicken wire should be fine for the top parts. Cats getting claws stuck shouldn't be a problem---that's only a concern if the wire is laid where cats can walk on it.
     

  7. Dacatchair

    Dacatchair TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Norachan... ( or anyone else) Can you find a online link to somewhere that sells the same type of netting you are using? I have a 100 by 50 foot vegetable garden area that has a deer proof fence, and if I could find some inexpensive nylon netting strong enough to withstand my 2 cats, it would be pretty easy to add this to their outside areas... Which I think they would love!
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019

  8. Dacatchair

    Dacatchair TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Willowy, I am pretty sure the serious injuries from claws getting caught happened when cats climbed the wire... How common this is is another matter though. With the internet if it is one in a million, and only one in a hundred people post about their bad experience there will still be a bunch of people warning this can be dangerous, when or if it very very rarely is.
     

  9. walli

    walli TCS Member Super Cat

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    That netting sounds like good stuff, going to have to look into it myself!
     

  10. amethyst

    amethyst Thread Starter TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Nov 25, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    Well I'm still in the planning stage, and wont be able to get any fencing material until mid month at the earliest. Summer is almost over too, so I might not be getting to setting anything up until next year, just gathering material. My husband is going to be the one doing most of the heavy lifting so I have to wait until the weekend when he is home, and for it to actually be nice out (it's been a very rainy summer). I worry about mice, other critters, or even the cats themselves chewing holes if I used nylon mesh, it also looks to be more expensive then chicken wire too. It is wider though, so I would need less, I'll look into it anyway.

    We do get a good amount of snow here, +/- 6 feet total a year, but normally only a few inches to a foot at a time, but it adds up. I was originally thinking a sloped roof, and will be when make it bigger. I was hoping for now just the wire top would allow snow to fall into it during the winter, it gets too cold for the cats to go out in the winter anyway.

    Yes, we have a lot of coyotes around here, and other predators, which I'm guessing is what happen to my other cat last month :bawling:. Where I am thinking of putting the catio is right within the dog's area, just outside my living room window. So a coyote would have to get past 1-3 dogs at any given time to get to the cats. I've never seen coyotes coming anywhere near that close to the house anyway. I also plan to continue to bring the cats inside at night, when the dogs are in for the night.

    Here is a quick/rough drawing of the wood frame of what I have in mind. the light blue is window, the white are windows that open. Obviously I'll be adding in shelves and stuff.
    CatioIdea.jpg
     
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  11. Willowy

    Willowy TCS Member Top Cat

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    Yeah, that ought to be fine. If you can scrounge up some stronger stuff for the lower part, that would be more secure, but as long as the dogs don't mess with it, the chicken wire should be enough.

    Hmm, I didn't think about cats trying to climb the wire. Most cats won't try it, I think.
     

  12. walli

    walli TCS Member Super Cat

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    So sorry about your kitty Amethyst
     

  13. amethyst

    amethyst Thread Starter TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Nov 25, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    Thanks, I'm having a hard time excepting she is really gone, I don't want to believe it. She just vanished in the middle of the day, so I don't know and may never know for sure what happened to her. I'm thinking most likely a coyote got her though. The fact that I'm changing how I am doing things now is just making me feel guilty, like I did something wrong and failed her, that is why she is gone.
     

  14. Norachan

    Norachan Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Sorry to hear about your cat @amethyst :grouphug2:

    Having netting that is a bit floppy can be an advantage. The cats won't climb anything that isn't firm enough to support their weight. Netting pulled tight, like that on mosquito screens, is easy for them to climb. Netting that isn't pulled taunt isn't as appealing to them.

    I think you can get it in places like Walmart and Tractor Supply.
     
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  15. walli

    walli TCS Member Super Cat

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    You didn't do anything wrong, we do everything we can to protect our babies.
    You would do anything to protect them! Don't beat yourself up
    I'm sure your kitty knows too!
     

  16. Emmerence

    Emmerence TCS Member Kitten

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    Aug 8, 2019
    Newbie here ‍♀️ So sorry for your loss. I live in the country & despise coyotes. I closed in a back porch with chicken wire. The problem is that chicken wire is not a thick gauge so it's susceptible to rust. Just a small weakness or hole can be exploited by predators. It happened too me. Welded wire may be expensive but our pets are irreplaceable. Search Pinterest for ideas. I fenced in my property with predator wire. It was costly but worth it. Good luck !
     

  17. amethyst

    amethyst Thread Starter TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Nov 25, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    I'm less worried about predators getting in, they don't come that close to the house with the dogs right there. Even if they did get that close the dogs would be barking like crazy which would alert me to them so I'm more concerned with keeping the cats contained near the house. The cats would only have access to it during the day when I am home. The chicken wire would be used until I can afford to upgrade to better wire, but I might check out the deer fencing next time I go into town later on this month, since it's not metal it wont rust.
     

  18. angels mommy

    angels mommy TCS Member Top Cat

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    Lots of great ideas here, you can also search YouTube for catio videos. I started a file of some myself. :) There are many different sizes & ideas to get ideas & tips from. Maybe it will be a blessing to wait for next year to do it, this way it gives you plenty of time to research, get great & tips, as well as save for materials & get them over time.
    As for keeping your kitty safe in the meanwhile, you can get a harness & leash. This way she can still enjoy the outdoors, but safely with you. Especially if she's starting to not come when called. That can be scary. Im so sorry you lost your other baby.
     

  19. Emmerence

    Emmerence TCS Member Kitten

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    That's a good drawing. You might be able to get a thicker chicken wire. Just keep researching. And remember you also want something that will keep the cats in & won't let them escape. Consider doing a plywood or tin roof. Also make sure it also keeps out owls & hawks. Plus it doesn't need to be open all the way around. You could have it closed on the bottom but open halfway up, with shelves where they can look out.
     

  20. amethyst

    amethyst Thread Starter TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Nov 25, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    Oh if only it were that easy, I still have 9 cats, of those 4 of them that still want out. Luckily two of them don't care that much, they just want to catch bugs or sit on the porch (so not much effort to keep them in, they will like a catio). The other two though I don't think leash training is going to work, they are mostly wanting to just sit outside or go hunting (they catch birds, mice, voles, squirrels, etc), and they can't really hunt on a leash. I only have a basic H style harness too, not a very good cat harness (they can slip out of it). So far all this rainy weather is helping, they don't want to go out in the rain.
     

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