Walking freely outside can be dangerous for a deaf cat. Especially cars and predators are very dangerous for a cat who can't hear them approaching. But indoor deaf cats need fresh air too! So we've invested in a small catio for our balcony where they have a great view over the fields, the road, the neighbors and the sky. It's a bit different than most catios and we get a lot of questions about it, when we show it on social media. So here's an introduction to our KittyWalk System.
Cats on the balcony
We got a nice big balcony that we would like to share with our cats. However it's not easy to kitty secure it. We live at the top floor of a house and the balcony "floats" freely without any upstairs balcony to put a net on. We have a pitched roof so the cats can easily jump from the fence of the balcony up onto the roof. Ronja and Victor are expert climbers in nets, so I would have to make a roof and completely enclose our balcony. It't not that it can't be done, it's just a bigger project to secure our balcony than most balcony's.
Also we are renting this place, so something like that needs to be approved by our landlord. It would not be pretty from the outside or from the inside. We do not really want to be "in prison" on our one spot where we can sit outside in the summer. We can see the balcony from our common area where we spend most of our time and it would really ruin the view. If we owned a garden we would make a real catio for them, but not on this balcony. Lastly; I can't build these sorts of things, so I found something that I could put together myself.
A different solution
I looked into solutions that we could place on the balcony and that just needed to be assembled. There's not a lot of that in Denmark and it's very expensive to order from the states because of the toll we have to pay when in arrives. And it wasn't cheep to begin with! But I found one of these solution on a danish website called the KittyWalk Systems. You can buy different elements and build your own little catio. You can take it down and relocate it and it won't take up much space during transport or storage. Here's a video from the first time Ronja and Victor were out in the catio together.
We've been pretty happy with our purchase. I managed to put it together on my own despite unclear instructions. The cats had a blast while I put it together in my living room. I'd wish it came with more locking mechanisms, but I managed with cable ties instead. It would also have been nice to have an easier way to open and close the exit without slowing breaking the locking mechanism over time. But all in all it's good quality.
This is how we use it
I always carry them from the balcony door to the KittyWalk. I would never leave them there and go out shopping or something, but I feel safe enough leaving them out there while I go down with the trash or get the laundry. When they want to come back in they sit by the gate and call on me. They don't sit out there for hours although Ronja might take a nap if I'm sitting on the balcony too. Usually they won't stay out there for more than 20 mins, but sometimes they want back in right away even though they nagged me about going out there. You know how cats are. When they want back inside I simply open the catio and they run back inside themselves. If you follow us on Instagram you will often see Ronja and Victor in their KittyWalk system in our stories.
Victor is the one who begs to go out in the KittyWalk. He meows at the door till I let him out there. Who stays out there the longest varies though. Sometimes Victor sits out there for half an hour and sometimes Ronja is the one who want to stay out.
Ronja's mini catio
Originally we actually got the KittyWalk with Ronja in mind. You see she loves to go out on the balcony in her cat carrier and we thought she could use some more space and a better view. Before we got the Kitty walk we would sometimes bring Ronja with us on the balcony in her carrier. She would take a bath, take in the smells and perhaps even nap. She never told us when she wanted to go back inside, so to be on the safe side we never had her out there for more than 15 minutes at a time. We put the carrier next to the balcony door and often she would run into the carrier as soon as we even got close to the door. As if to say "take me with you!". So we did.
We weren't sure that Victor would be able to even use the KittyWalk. He struggles with anxiety and isn't as easy to control as Ronja is. We knew we could simply carry Ronja out there, but we were afraid Victor might panic if we tried it with him. Luckily we have had no such troubles, so it benefits both of them.
The KittyWalk System gives them a different view, fresh air and a little adventure in their lives.