Back in the day, pretty much all cats lived outside. Some cats were indoor/outdoor, but very few were indoor only. Today, the world has become much faster moving. People have recognized the dangers that come with allowing cats to roam freely and have opted to keep their cats inside. With adequate stimulation, indoor cats can be happy and healthy! However there is no denying that they would be happier if they could also feel the wind in their fur as they sunbathed and chased bugs outside, which is where catios come into play.
The Best of Both Worlds
Luckily there is a solution to allow your cat to enjoy the great outdoors from the safety of your home. They have become known as “catios”, which is a play on the words “cat” and “patio”. A catio is a fully enclosed outdoor area for your cat to lounge and play without the risks associated with running totally free. Your cat will be protected from wildlife, cars, other domestic animals, and people. Access to their catio can either be restricted or unlimited, depending on how much time you’d like your cat to spend out there. Catios are the perfect solution for cat parents who want their cats to be kept as safe as possible without missing out on the fun that the outdoors bring.
How Catios Work
A catio is basically a cage, and many different material options can be used successfully. You can either build one from scratch, or buy a kit online. The most important factor will be how well you enclose the space, as cats can usually fit through very small openings. Some people use pet screening to enclose the catio, though in that case you wouldn’t be able to get the fun bugs to chase! Chicken wire is a good option, as it will have openings large enough for bugs but too small for kitties. With any wire material, you have to be careful at the ends where the wire is cut to prevent any stray pieces from sticking out and potentially causing injury.
Depending on the size of your catio, you might want to fill the space with cat trees, shelves, or other fun things for cats to climb. Cats love to climb, so having upward climbing options will make them happy as well as encourage more healthy exercise. Adding cat-friendly plants is also an option, to enhance their outdoor experience.
Access to the catio can be through a door or window that you open and close, or through a cat door. Using a cat door is great because you can allow your cat to come and go as they please, without allowing the outside air and/or bugs to also come and go as they please! Cat doors can be installed through walls, doors, windows, sliding glass doors or screens. The most common place for cat doors that lead to catios is through a window.
Other Benefits of a Catio
Not only do you increase your cat’s happiness by providing a great source of mental stimulation, but you are inevitably going to increase the amount of exercise your cat achieves throughout the day. It has been estimated that over 50% of cats in the United States are overweight. Giving your cat an enjoyable outlet to chase, climb, and jump will help get them moving, keeping them healthier and more comfortable!
The outside is a wonderful place for a litter box. You will virtually eliminate litter tracking and odors that can drive all cat parents crazy. The only downside of this is that you will have to try harder to remember to clean the litter box(es) regularly and you will need the litter boxes to be covered to prevent rain from getting inside.
Assuming your catio is very sturdy, you can also provide food and water outside. Putting their food outside can help if you have dogs indoors that like to get into their feline sibling’s meals. Food and water can attract extra wildlife, so be mindful!