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Take a look at Sugar’s Catio!

Hello, friends! It’s Sugar here…with my first ever blog post! When you only have one and a half paws – typing takes a while, you know? I bet you’ve been enjoying the summer! What’s not to like, right? Sunshine…blue skies…a nice breeze…bird watching…munching on some cat grass while laying on your belly… Oh! Wait…that last part was just me, huh?

At the beginning of the summer, my humans surprised my siblings and I with our very own catio so that we could enjoy the outdoors safely, just like our dog brothers in the backyard. What’s a catio, you might ask? Honestly, I hadn’t heard of such a thing either until I came to work at the Lawrence Humane Society. At LHS we have a really big catio right outside the cat adoption area, where volunteers can socialize with my feline friends who are available for adoption. But it turns out you can have catios at home too!

My humans learned all about catios by following @catioguy on Instagram! This gentleman is a catio builder in Los Angeles who designed the custom catio at the Orphan Kitten Club offices. (P.S. – did you know the Lawrence Humane Society is an OKC Mightycat Partner Organization?! We’re so lucky!) They learned that catios can not only increase cats’ happiness and provide mental and physical stimulation, but also catios can improve harmony in a multi-cat household. So my super thoughtful humans reached out to Matthew Jarmer, a Lawrence artist, furniture builder, and fellow cat-lover, to see if he would be interested in designing a catio for our home!  Luckily for us, he was totally into the idea! 

After our catio was complete, I sat down with Matt and interviewed him about his catio-building process:

So Matt, what were your initial thoughts about building the catio when my humans first asked you about it?

At first I wasn’t sure if it was the right project for me. As an artist and furniture builder I don’t normally do this type of work, but I loved the concept and it sounded like a fun project.

As a first-time catio builder, what was your process like?

My process started with evaluating the space and getting some guidance from you, Sugar, and your siblings. The next step was design – I built a digital model to help everyone visualize the catio and help me plan for materials. Once the design was approved it was time to purchase materials and start building. I was able to build most of the catio at my shop, then deliver it and build the cat walk into the window. Finally I added shelves and ramps so the cats could explore the entire space.

So you have cats! What are your thoughts on catios?

I think catios are awesome! They are a great way for cats to safely and securely be outside. I am excited to build a catio for my cats.

Can you please tell us about your cats?

I have two cats, Homer and Cooley. They are about 9 years old. We adopted them as kittens from the Lawrence Humane Society. They love sleeping, eating, napping, playing, snuggling, and other various cat activities. And they are patiently waiting for their catio to be built.

Thanks so much for chatting with me, Matt! And thank you so much for our gorgeous new outdoor space! 

My siblings and I have been enjoying our catio all summer! We’re all a little different and the catio has helped each of us in different ways. As you know, I only have one and a half paws, so it’s a bit more difficult for me to run around and play with my siblings. But I don’t want to just sit around and stare at the wall all day – I’m not a potato! Hanging out in the catio provides the mental stimulation I need to keep my mind sharp and it’s super entertaining!

Me looking cute on the catio and not being a potato
Definitely NOT me!

My older brother, Charles, was a farm cat for the first 12 years of his life. He had 37 acres to roam on in Southeast Kansas and moving to Lawrence and suddenly becoming an indoor-only cat has been hard on him. But he’s not familiar with cars so it’s not like he can go wandering the neighborhood. The catio has allowed him to have that outdoor-cat-life fulfillment while staying safe and he is MUCH happier (and more pleasant to be around)!

My youngest sister, Ruthie, is kind of a pill. She was a sweet kitten, but she’s been going through a mean girl teenage phase lately and frankly, she’s kind of a bully to the rest of us. But the catio has helped her immensely! I don’t know if it’s the increased mental stimulation, the sights and smells that we hadn’t gotten inside, or the fact that the multi-level vertical space of the catio appeals to our feline hierarchical nature, but she has once again started to get along with the rest of us and cat fights are no longer an issue in our home!

One of the most pleasant surprises about the catio has been our new friendship with the birds around our home. A lot of our neighbors love birds and we know that there has been some tension between our neighbors who want to make sure birds still come to their yards and our neighbors who love their cats and want their cats to enjoy time outside. As cats, you can guess which side my siblings and I were on. But now we totally get why our neighbors love birds! Our humans hung bird feeders from the trees that surround our catio and we love watching the birds fly around, eat, and chirp at us. And the birds know they’re safe and that we’re not trying to hurt them. We’ve even seen hummingbirds! They’re even tinier than the neonatal kittens our humans bring home to foster sometimes!

I know that I’m a celebrity and have my own shirt, social media accounts, and social media manager, but I’m not a diva, truly! Deep down, I’m just a cat with the same nature and instincts as all the other cats out there. And having a catio to enjoy the outdoors from has helped me embrace and safely indulge those instincts. All cats can – and do – have catios, not just celebrity cats!

Do your cats have a catio?

Let us know by sending in photos to marketing@lawrencehumane.org! And if you don’t have a catio, perhaps you could consider hiring an awesome local contractor like Matt and then Lawrence, Kansas, can become the “Catio Capital of the World!”

Catio selfie with my siblings!!
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