In 2018, whenever I asked the bride what she wanted for Christmas, she carefully (and almost robotically) repeated the words "a safe, outdoor space for our cats." In other words, a catio! I can't say that I was entirely excited with the prospect for aesthetic reasons, but sometimes, folks, you have to choose function over form.
We initially agreed to put the catio along the thin sideyard where no one could see it, but there were issues with this, including access to recalcitrant or stuck-for-some-reason cats and the AC condenser. The Cat Carpenter talked us into putting one in off the master bedroom door to the patio.
We went on the 2019 Austin Catio Tour and liked the work of David Murphy, aka The Cat Carpenter. David's work is solid, is unintentionally neoplastic, and matches the wood on our house. He's also a cat-lover, so he's legit about his work and is something of a cat whisperer in understanding what cats want.
Cats are stone-cold killers, terminating between 1.2 and 3.7 billion birds a year in the United States alone, which is one reason we keep our cats indoors (health and longevity are others). The Travis Audubon Society organizes and promotes the catio tour to promote keeping cats indoors. We mentioned to David that we would be interested in being on the tour, and, last month, the tourmeisters reached out to invite us to participate!
Aesthetically I wish we didn't have it or had it somewhere we didn't see it, but, cattily, our little purr-muffins love it, spending countless hours enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors from a safe perch. We put in a new door between the bedroom and the patio/catio so we could install a cat-door to allow the kitties freedom to access the catio whenever they want.
See us if you can! The tour is free (but there is a $10 donation request) and will be held on February 29, 2020, from 10 am to 3 pm. More info on the 2020 Austin Catio Tour is available here. We plan to have cat and bird themed music. If anyone acoustic wants to play on our backyard stage during the event, please let us know!