First ever Austin Catio Tour to be held Saturday

Outdoor cat enclosures, or catios, are a hip new trend in Austin.

There are already dozens of them in the area and this Saturday from 10-3pm, people will get the chance to see for themselves during the city's first ever catio tour.

Austinite Jenifer Tillerson used to spend a lot of time herding cats.

“I have 13 cats… Very much a cat lady, a certified professional,” Tillerson said.

When she started hearing about catios, Jenifer did a little research and found a local cat carpenter who could fulfill all her feline's dreams. “Saw some of his stuff on his website and was like, that's it, that's what I need,” said Tillerson.

$2500 later, her kitties had their own space, including some unique catio features.

“We have our very fun little ball pit and our natural wood bridge that they love to crawl across and scratch on,” Tillerson said.

A couple months ago, the self-proclaimed cat lady got a call from a bird guy. Why?

“An unfortunate fact is that across the U.S. millions of birds are killed each year by cats and cats also suffer equally bad fates. Cats are killed by dogs, by raccoons, by coyotes,” said Jordan Price who works with the Travis Audubon Society.

Price was interested in learning more about catios to find out whether it's possible for outdoor cats and birds to live in harmony. “The catio is the answer. The catio provides excellent habitat for cats, it allows cats safe outdoor time, it also protects birds,” Price said.

Jordan wanted to share that information with other people so he put together Austin’s first ever catio tour. “We really want people to be inspired by the catio tour. We want people to see catios and to understand that there are options for cats and that one of those options is building them a beautiful home where they can enjoy the outdoors and watch birds, but not kill them,” said Price.

So far more than 630 people have registered to visit catios in the Austin area on Saturday.

Jennifer's is one of ten that will be included.

“I thought it was amazing. I'd heard of similar things, like fishpond tours and stuff like that, but I'd never heard of the catio tour. So I think it's pretty cool,” Tillerson said.

The Austin Catio Tour is free, but participants must be registered to receive catio locations.

Donations are encouraged and will benefit the Travis Audubon Society.