How to create a catio-friendly outdoor tunnel that your cat will love - BC SPCA
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How to create a catio-friendly outdoor tunnel that your cat will love

March 28, 2024

You’ve created your catio, and your cat adores it. After all, catios give cats the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of the great outdoors without all the dangers. Why wouldn’t they like it?

As the kind-hearted and creative pet guardian you are, you now might be wondering how you can further enhance your kitty’s catio experience. Creating tunnels can add space and complexity to your catio and offer an extra enriching environment for your furry friend. They’re also a great way to connect a standalone catio to your house.

If you want to know how to build a tunnel for your catio but aren’t sure where to start, here are some tips and a ready-made design to help you expand upon your cat’s new ‘tunnel vision.’

Why do cats love tunnels?

Tunnels are a great idea for cats because they can:

Make your cat more active. Cats love to run through tunnels and scratch at them, and enjoy darting in and out of the openings. Providing toys inside a tunnel, like dangling feathers or a ball, is also a great way to keep kitty on the move for exercise.

Create a safe napping spot for your cat. Cats are notorious for their long cat naps. Sleeping within a tunnel provides protection and security when they’re looking for a private area to snooze.

Provide your cat with safe outdoor experiences. From their tunnel, cats can enjoy birdwatching (without risking the birds’ safety!), in addition to other new outdoor sights and smells.

catio cat

Next, decide on the materials you’ll need

It’s important to decide where you’ll construct your outdoor tunnel before gathering your materials. That way, you’ll save time and money by figuring out beforehand what you’ll need. Measurements and dimensions will depend on the size and style of your outdoor tunnel.

For a basic tunnel, here are the typical materials you’ll need:

  • 2 x 4 cedar boards to support the tunnel
  • 1 x 2 cedar boards for the tunnel base
  • ⅚ x 6 inch cedar deck boards for the tunnel base
  • 1 x 1 wire mesh (stainless steel or galvanized to avoid weather damage)
  • 3 ½ inch deck screws
  • 1 ½ inch deck screws
  • ¾ inch or longer staples
  • Wire/tin snips to cut the mesh to the correct size
  • Circular saw and/or table saw
  • Electric drill
  • Staple gun


BC SPCA Catio tour 2019

How to build one

If you don’t have a window opening but still want to create an outdoor catio paradise for your cat, consider the addition of a cat door. Please hire a qualified contractor to inspect the proposed location of the pet door and to complete installation. Already have a cat door? Perfect! Use this as your tunnel entrance.

Now you’re ready to follow the steps in our DIY catio tunnel how-to guide (PDF).

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Delight your furry friend! Add toys to your catio.