Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the Holiday 2015 issue of Catster print magazine. Click here to subscribe to Catster magazine.
With so much attention being devoted to catifying our homes, it’s no surprise that catios are a booming business. David Kempka and Jennifer Austin are the founders of Purrfect Catio, a business that helps cat guardians expand their cat’s territory by adding an outdoor enclosure.
Catios, or enclosed patios designed specifically for cats, can be a great addition to a feline-friendly home. They provide a way for cats to get fresh air while keeping them safe from outdoor threats. These home additions can be simple window enclosures or elaborate screened-in rooms and labyrinthine walkways. Some are like amusement parks for cats.
David and Jennifer learned a great deal from building catios for their own cats. They built their first catio using simple materials to create a small enclosure, just 4 feet wide by 8 feet deep by 4 feet tall. Their cats loved the new outdoor space so much that David and Jennifer created another larger space. This time they used a repurposed gazebo, which they wrapped in wire and outfitted with shelves and a cat tree. These two projects demonstrated just how much the cats loved being able to go outdoors and how important it is to build with durable materials that can withstand the elements. So the idea for Purrfect Catio was born.
“Our motivation for starting the company came from our cats and the love and happiness they have shown us from owning their very own catio,” David said.
After researching materials, David, a mechanical engineer, found a sturdy, anodized aluminum tubing system to use for building the Purrfect Catio structures. The tubing is weather resistant and creates an attractive-looking frame.
David and Jennifer also realized that they would need to cater to different types of clients, including DIY homeowners as well as customers who prefer to “leave it to the experts” by having a custom enclosure designed and built specifically to meet their needs.
The couple developed several DIY catio kits that can be assembled easily with simple hand tools. These are ideal for construction-savvy clients who just need the basic pieces to get started. DIY kits come with or without mesh for personal customization.
In addition to the DIY kits, Purrfect Catio offers custom design and installation services. David and Jennifer said they try to let their kitty clients inspire their custom designs. In one case, the client’s cat liked to sleep on top of his guardian’s convertible, so they incorporated the same type of material used for the convertible roof into the catio design.
Brothers Adam and Jonathan Schwartz from Miami recently hired Purrfect Catio to build an elaborate custom enclosure for their beloved cat, Kitty. They worked closely with David to develop the plan.
“Not only does David have the knowledge and experience to build a first-class catio, but he is first and foremost a cat lover,” Jonathan said.
Adam and Jonathan were so impressed with the craftsmanship and design of their new catio, the brothers hired David to build additional phases, extending the structure for Kitty, who loves her new catio, too. They are also quite pleased with how well the design complements their home.
“We love how the catio blends into the home in such a way that is not obtrusive, obvious, or an eyesore,” Jonathan said. “It looks like it was part of the original house design.”
When reflecting on running their business, David and Jennifer reported that they most enjoy seeing the appreciation of cats and their guardians when they start using their new catio. The couple receives hundreds of photos of happy cats soaking up the sunshine and breathing in the fresh air, all while staying safe from harm. There’s really no better reward.
“Of course, we love meeting crazy cat people like us,” David said, adding that their customers are the best any company could ask for. Purrfect Catio looks forward to helping many more cat guardians keep their cats happy and safe for years to come.
To learn more, visit Purrfect Catios on Facebook.