The reason I decided to build a catio with pvc is because a couple of years ago I built a wooden cat enclosure, or catio, for my indoor cats. But, after a few years of storing it outside during the winter, it started to rot and get moldy.

When I first built it I was afraid of sealing it in fear that the cats would chew on it and get sick. So, I took my chances and time took it’s toll. I thought about fixing it, or building a new one, but it would just rot again.

Therefore, I needed an alternative to wood and screen, so I googled “how to build a catio with pvc.”

I found a lot of PVC cages you could purchase custom made for a few thousand dollars each!!! YIKES! That wasn’t going to happen so, I decided to build my own.

BTW, I made the entire enclosure for $300.00 and I’m going to show you how to build a catio with pvc so you can make one for your kitties.

how to build a pcv catio

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What is a Catio?

A catio is a structure built to allow your cats to have some outdoor time in a safe place. Also known as an outdoor cat enclosure, outdoor cat shelter, or cat run, a catio gives your kitty to get some fresh air and sun when they would otherwise be in danger of doing so.

Therefore, catios are purrfect for indoor cats. You see what I did there? LOL

Catios, or outdoor cat enclosures can be made in many different configurations, materials, and sizes. If your building your own, your only limited to space available, budget, and your imagination.

Why build a catio out of PVC?

There are a few different materials you could build your outdoor cat enclosure with, but in my opinion PVC is the most versatile.

Like I said above building a cat enclosure out of PVC will allow you to keep it outdoors without fear of it rotting and falling apart. PVC is a plastic that cannot rot or break down so it’s perfect for outdoor use.

PVC is also very lightweight and will allow you to move the entire enclosure to another area if you wish. Or if you want to store it during the winter, you can easily break it down to store it.

For those concerned with the effects of PVC, here is a couple articles with both the pros and cons of using PVC products. Is PVC Safe? The Vinyl Debate , 7 Myths About PVC – Debunked

How to build a catio with PVC

The PVC catio, or PVC cat enclosure, is made out of PVC pipes and plastic garden fencing. I connected the sections using PVC connectors to make the frame, and used zip ties to secure the netting to it. The roof is made out of clear plastic roofing material.

I built the catio so that my cats can climb out of the living room window directly into the enclosure. But you can definitely build a totally enclosed, free standing cage that you could put anywhere. One of the benefits of a PVC enclosure is that it’s very light so you can move it easily.

How to build a catio with pvc

First, I decided on the overall size of the cage. This was easy because I already knew exactly where I wanted it to go (on my deck where the other cage was.) So I built it to those exact measurements. My catio’s finished measurements were 74″ long x 55″ wide by 90″ tall.

Your list of supplies for the PCV Cat Enclosure

I have made a list of all of the supplies I used to build my catio. Your measurements could be slightly different depending on the size and configuration of your cage. But, if you decide to build yours to my exact specifications this would be your supply list.

Update: I have since found a better way to attach the gate to the patio. Check out these PVC hinges updated in the supply list.

I also had a reader share her Catio with me and she found these products that are pretty interesting. You may want to check these out. Thanks Linda 🙂

12″ Hook and Loop Cable straps

12″ Poly Webbing Strap and Buckles

Snap Clamps for PVC Pipes


Get a beautiful 30-page printable version of this post without all the annoying ads and non cat related info? Comes with a clickable shopping supply list for just $12.99

57 Comments

  1. We just built our own 8 ft tall, 3.5 ft wide catio based on your design. The supply list, and your detailed description was so helpful! It took us about 5-6 hrs to complete. It’s tall enough to accommodate our 2 huge cats, a large cat tree and our patio window, which swings open into the enclosure. The cats love it, and it is quite sturdy. We built it next to a railing, and used straps with release buckles to anchor it in place. We also used the same Blue Hawk plastic garden fencing on your supply list. It’s quite strong! I don’t think our cat can chew through this easily. Thank you so much for sharing your catio plans!

    1. I have a ton of squirrels and chimpmonks in my yard but never had an issue with them trying to get into the catio. It may just be that there isn’t anything for them to want to get in for. ex. food

  2. This idea looks purrfect for my situation! I am renting and getting a new kitten to add to the family but we have eagles and coyotes around but I want to get my new baby some safe outdoor time. This seems like a great solution for my project I am going to do today and hopefully make my fiancé super excited!!!! Thank you for posting this!

    1. Hi Scott, I did not use cement. However, mine is kind of wedged between my house and deck railing and the netting pretty much holds it together anyway. But, if you are concerned with it coming apart, by all means use cement. But, keep in mind that you will not be able to dissasemble it if you need to.

    1. Hi Terri, The only time my cats chewed on the fencing is when we put our new kitten out there for the first time. I was sitting on the deck and he was trying to get to me. He did this one day and never tried again. And there was no damage. The other two grown cats – never.

      1. Thank you so much! I am going to try and create one myself in the next few weeks using this fencing.

      2. putting cats in this very toxin emitting environment is a dumb idea.Especially when the sun hits it, it’s even multiples worse. you were better off using a non toxic water based strain on the wood enclosure. And your plastic fence will crack and deteriorate in no time. hope your cats don’t get sick or escape when the plastic fence seams separate.

        1. Pattianne, Thank you for your comment about the PVC catio. I completely respect your stance on the use of PVC. However, there are many, many products that we use on a daily basis containing pvc including roofing, siding, water pipes, windows, vinyl fencing, flooring, cookware, car parts, toys, clothing, handbags, pools, plastic furniture, and many more.

          However, I appreciate your concern and I will add information to my article with a link to the pros and cons of using pvc.

          Thank you, Lori

          1. While PVC does contain harmful carcinogens, VCM is merely a part of the production of vinyl. Once PVC is produced, VCM is no longer emitted, so it doesn’t pose a threat to anybody who uses vinyl. Dioxin can only be released from PVC when it is burned at low or extremely high temperatures.

          2. Clyde, Thank you for your reply. There is a back and forth about the effects of PVC and I want my readers to know both sides so they can make an informed decision. I did add some links to the post with both the pros and cons of pvc. Thanks for writing, I appreciate it.

    1. Good question. Mine is wedged between my house and deck railing so there’s no way that can happen. But you can use u brackets to attach to the deck floor or house to secure it. If you have it in a grassy area you could use stakes. It’s quite large so even without anything I doubt they could do it. But better to be safe then sorry.

  3. I need something like this to stop my cat from jumping off my second floor balcony railing!! She is fine during daylight hours but at night when there are all those wonderful noises it gets too much for her.

    You don’t actually say what size PVC pipe you used.

    1. I would try using “U” brackets to attach it. This way it can wrap around the PVC pipe and attach to the house with screws. Or if you don’t want to drill into your house with screws you can attach it to the deck floor the same way. I don’t have mine attached because it is wedged between my house and the deck railing.

      If you don’t want to do either then you can make a tunnel that goes from the window thru the opening in the enclosure. You would use your window to hold the tunnel on the house end and attach the other end directly to the pvc enclosure. This way the cats wont be able to have access to the enclosure any other way. I have mine like this. I purchased at cat door for a window and the tunnel goes right to the flap so they cant get around it. If your not attaching the enclosure to anything then I would make sure the house end of the tunnel is attached to the window opening.

      I hope this helps. If you have any other questions please feel free to ask.

  4. I am thrilled to find your directions. It’s solidifying what I thought and adding some extra things. One of which is why plastic fencing? You said your new kitty is chewing on it, I don’t see how plastic could stand up to a cat. I was thinking of using the lightest chicken wire – thoughts? I will be using a clearish plastic roofing used on barns so I know it can hold snow load, if we have any, and add more supports in general. I don’t have room to store it indoors. Any thoughts on winterizing it – giving it extra strength?

    1. Hi Ann, I used the plastic fencing because that was what I read was a good option. After a few readers suggested that it might not be strong enough I decided to update the post to reflect that. I did say that my kitten was chewing on it but he wasn’t successful at damaging it at all. That’s why I feel safe with the plastic fencing. I however do not have to worry about any danger of other animals getting in because it’s in my fenced in yard on my second story deck. Any bendable fencing with holes would work with the exact same directions so go with whatever you feel comfortable with.

      We don’t use the Catio in the winter. All we do is takeoff the roof because it will not hold snow, and leave the rest of the structure right where it is. Because it’s PVC it’s perfectly fine to leave it outdoors. Are you planning on having the cats use it during the winter?

    2. I built a partition in my Class C motorhome so it blocks off the cab. That way when we are travelling we can get in and out of the cab without fear that one of the cats could escape. I put a gate in the partition so we could then get into the back safely when the cab doors are shut. We don’t use the side door when the cats are on board. I used a galvanized screen a bit stronger than chicken wire to be extra safe. It works very well.

      1. That’s a great idea. I’m trying to figure out how to take them with us safely. When it’s just my husband and I I’m not too worried but when we have the grandkids that’s another story. I hope I can figure something out.

  5. Hi Did you use ordinary hinges for the door? What did you use to hold the door closed? I can’t wait to get started on this 😻😸😺

  6. What part of the US are you in, do you have exrtreme heat or cold where you are? We do where I live and I wonder how durable the PVC is. We build a woodframe without treating and it only lasted 10 years. and I am looking for an alternative material.

    Thanks
    Leslie

    1. Hi Leslie, I live in the northeast in MA. We get all kinds of weather. I’ve had the pvc catio for two winters and it hold up very well. I do however remove the roof because it would never hold the snow we get. Your lucky that your untreated wood catio lasted ten years! Mine lasted only two! 😊

  7. Hi, I love this DIY. Was the garden fencing strong enough to last against any attempted climbing or chewing from the cats? Let me know! I am trying to decide between metal and plastic.

    1. Hi Lindsey, until yesterday I haven’t had an issue with the cats chewing or climbing the fencing. But we have a new kitten who we just introduced to the catio. I was sitting on my deck and he was not happy that he couldn’t get to me and started climbing up the side and frantically chewing at the bottom to get to me. He did not succeed and eventually gave up. I did not see any damage though. I made the mistake of taking him out thru the door of the catio and I think that’s why he was trying to chew there. He saw that that section opened up. 🙄. I will let you know if this becomes an issue but honestly I think he will get used to it and not try again.

    1. Hi Amy, I would try using “U” brackets to attach it. This way it can wrap around the PVC pipe and attach to the house with screws. Or if you don’t want to drill into your house with screws you can attach it to the deck floor the same way. I don’t have mine attached because it is wedged between my house and the deck railing.

      If you don’t want to do either then you can make a tunnel that goes from the window thru the opening in the enclosure. You would use your window to hold the tunnel on the house end and attach the other end directly to the pvc enclosure. This way the cats wont be able to have access to the enclosure any other way. I have mine like this. I purchased at cat door for a window and the tunnel goes right to the flap so they cant get around it. If your not attaching the enclosure to anything then I would make sure the house end of the tunnel is attached to the window opening.

      I hope this helps. If you have any other questions please feel free to ask.

      Lori

  8. Thanks Lori! I’m going to build one!, but put it inside for the winter, then attach it to the house outside or build another one when spring comes. I’ve never had cats and have 2 terrier dogs I don’t trust with the cats. I want the cats to be able to come upstairs and be able to still go downstairs for their litter. I live in a rural area and there are huge coyotes here.so it will be a death sentence if they go outside. A month ago I heard a pack of coyotes howling in woods nearby, then a cat screech, then complete silence in the woods near my house. These little kitties are now healthy, spayed and vaccinated They were skinny & flea infested when they showed up (dropped off most likely) in August One was super friendly & the other was not. I just fed them a month while they lived outside until I could capture them both a mont later. So my plan is to build a PVC enclosure 12 ft long, 2 feet wide, 6 ft tall so it will fit under the door in the spring when I can put it outside the egress window. I will put it along the railing to the basement in the upstairs open concept LR/Dr/kitchen. They will still have access to the huge unfinished but heated & AC basement where I already created a cat paradise out of moving boxes. Am in Europe x 3 weeks and come home Saturday. Have live in sitter caring for the 2 dogs/ 2 cats while gone. Will work on this project as soon as I’m home! Thanks again you have some brilliant ideas Nancy

    1. Nancy, that’s a great idea! I bet the dogs and cats will become friends by the end of the winter. This is a great way to introduce them and get them used to being around each other. I can’t wait to see it when it’s done!

  9. I love this idea as I have made something unrelated out of PVC pipe. I would like this up against the house where there is an egress window to the basement where my new stray kitties are. Please explain how to attach it to the house or to the window as I am unclear on how you did that. Also, would cats use this in the winter in a cold, snowy climate? If I put the same material you used for the top on the sides, just for the winter, do you think they would use it? I will use a heavy duty cat door in the window. Thanks

    1. Hi Nancy, What a great idea to use this for your basement window for your strays! I love it!

      I do not have my enclosure attached to the house or the window. It sits right up against the house and doesn’t have room for the cats to squeeze between the house and the enclosure. It is sitting in between the house and the deck railing which holds it pretty tight to the house. However, before I made this enclosure I had another one that I made out of wood and screens and this one I made a “tunnel” of sorts between the window and the enclosure. That way the only access they had was through this tunnel. You could definitely make a tunnel that attaches to the pet door and goes directly into the enclosure.

      But if you need to attach it somehow you could use u clamps and attach it to the house or a deck floor. Here is a link for you.
      Nge 3inch Rigid Pipe Strap Clamp. Just make sure you get the ones for the size of the pipes your using.

      Also, here is a link for the pet door that I purchased. I love it. Its very heavy duty and fits perfectly in the window. Ideal Pet Products Aluminum Sash Window Pet Door, Adjustable to Fit Window Widths from 27″ to 32″

      As far as them using it during the winter, I usually take mine down. However, now that I have this heavy duty pet door I’ve noticed that it isn’t cold near it…yet. I’m thinking of leaving it up until we get snow because the roof will not hold any weight. Or, maybe I could add something on top of the roof for more support for the winter. I’ll have to think about that some. If I were you I would try it for the winter and see if the cats are interested in going out. I guess they would let you know if it’s too cold and stay inside. Just remember you’ll need to support the roof with something other than what I used. They do make heavier roofing panels that could work. I just liked the see thru one that lets in light.

      Let me know what you decide and how it works for you.

      Lori

  10. Came across this as I was looking for a way to build a non-permanent catio for our cats. We live on the second floor and have a large patio. Our cats are very curious so I was hopping to make a space outside that was safe for them because I see our patio turning into a great summer hangout compete with a cat-friendly patio garden.

  11. Thank you for such an excellent explanation of the build for the catio. The information is exactly what I need. Looking forward to making a happy place for our 4 cats.

  12. Thank you for such a well written and explanatory build of a catio with PVC pipe. I recently moved from acreage to an in town residence. I am using the chain link panels from my dog kennel. I am always looking for ways to incorporate ideas like shelving, catio covering, and decor items I think my cats would like. My kennel is in the back of my yard, but your PVC design also gave me an idea on how to make a cat walkway our of the board, wire and PVC. Again, thank you. I enjoy the read.

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