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Introducing the 'Catio' of South End

By Daniel Dunkle | Jul 20, 2020
Photo by: Daniel Dunkle This "catio" allows nine cats to remain safe while enjoying time outdoors in Rockland's South End.

Rockland — The dilemma for feline fanciers for years has been that while they are safest indoors, they desperately want to be outside.

Laurie Southard and George McKown have designed and constructed a solution to this conundrum: The Catio.

Southard lives on Mechanic Street in Rockland's famous South End with nine cats. Her retired stepfather, McKown of Thomaston, wanted something to do.

It is 6.5 feet tall, four feet wide and six feet long, with an access panel that allows the cats to enter it through an open window into the house.

All of the corners of the perches are rounded and the mesh enclosing it was chosen with cat paws and faces in mind. They are perfectly safe and now able to enjoy fresh air and better bird watching, even if they cannot catch the feathered interlopers.

McKown said the project kept him going to E.L. Spear for materials.

He has worked as a boatbuilder, schooner crew member and at Bicknell Manufacturing producing tools for quarries. He later retired from Lie-Nielsen Toolworks.

Southard works at Coastal Opportunities.

She said she has always loved animals and had pets.

Her cats are Cookie, Ponyboy, Dandelion, Aster, Mercury, Zephyr, Saffron, Marzipan and Praline.

The catio is a relatively recent addition to the South End and came to the attention of the greater Rockland area when neighbor Phyllis Merriam mentioned it in The Rockland Buzz.

Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and The Camden Herald. Email him at or call 594-4401 ext. 122 with ideas for stories.

The new solarium for cats on Mechanic Street has drawn some positive attention since it was recently completed. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Cats can access the structure through the window. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
The perches have no sharp corners to protect the felines from injury. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
George McKown is the co-designer and builder of the "catio." (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
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Comments (4)
Posted by: Valerie Wass | Jul 22, 2020 07:53

That is awesome but I feel bad because, like Drucinda said, the city of Rockland most likely nailed you with property tax due to the outside kitty condo.

Posted by: Drucinda Woodman | Jul 20, 2020 20:53

It is a great one,Laurie ! But I bet you'll get taxed on it.Haha

Posted by: ananur forma | Jul 20, 2020 17:31

just remember do not put any food out there, only water it would  attract  "the wrong friends." You probably already know this.

Posted by: ananur forma | Jul 20, 2020 17:29

fabulous. Cats love them. My cat commissioned me to have one built for him.  Another neighbor has one also, for his cats!

it's the way of the future. Good work, George. Carpenter, musician Rob Elliot of Tenants Harbor built  "mine."

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