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Catios: The Safe Outdoor Enclosure for Cats

Back in the day, pretty much all cats lived outside, left to their own devices to take in fresh air and roam the neighborhood. Today, people recognize the dangers of letting an outdoor cat run freely and often choose to keep their cat inside instead. 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 and sun in their fur as they chase bugs outside. This is where catio spaces(cat patios) come into play.

The Best of Both Worlds

cat sitting inside its cat outdoor enclosure - catio plans

An outdoor cat enclosure provides a solution to allow your cat to enjoy the great outdoors while keeping your cat safe. They have become known as “catios”, which is a play on the words “cat” and “patio.” What is a catio? A catio is a cat outdoor enclosure and play area for your cat. There, you cat can be playing and lounging in an outdoor space without the risks associated with running totally free. With outdoor pet enclosures, your kitties 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

some cat patios have these scratch posts and other toys

A catio isn't a kennel or cat cage. It's an outdoor cat playpen that allows outside cats to step into the great outdoors without risking their well-being. You can either build one from scratch or buy a kit online. The most important factor is how well you enclose the space. Your pet playpen needs to be escape-proof as cats can usually fit through very small openings. Some people use pet screening to enclose the catio, though in that case, your cat will miss out on chasing bugs who slip through! Chicken wire is a good option, as it will have openings large enough for bugs but too small for kitties. With any cat fence made from 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.

cat in a cat outdoor enclosure thinking about cat patio ideas

Depending on the size of your catio, you might want to fill the space with cat trees, scratching posts, cat beds, hammocks, or other fun items for cats to climb. Cats love to climb, so providing upward climbing options will make them happy as well as encourage more healthy exercise. Some pet owners will their actions with old, free-standing furniture for cats to play on, like shelves and hutches. Adding cat-friendly plants is also an option to further 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 give your pet cat the freedom to come and go as they please, without granting outside air and bugs the same luxury! Some cat doors are even big enough for small dogs so that your furry friends can share.

Cat doors can be installed indoors or outdoors, and through walls, doors, windows, sliding glass doors or screens. The most commonplace for cat doors that lead to catios is through a window, often leading to a window box. The Ideal Fast Sash Pet Door for Windows is a great option for a catio window door. If you need a more heavy-duty alternative, the Endura Pet Products Thermo Sash 3e Cat Door for Sash Windows is a great weather-resistant and waterproof cat door.

Other Benefits of a Catio

cat going through catio window door to his cat patio

Not only do you increase your cat’s happiness by providing a great source of mental stimulation, but you are also going to increase their daily exercise with a catio DIY. It's estimated that over 50% of cats in the United States are overweight. Giving your cat an outdoor cat house where they can freely chase, climb, and jump will help get them moving, keeping them healthier and more comfortable!

An outside coup is also 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 and water-resistant, you can also provide food and water outside. Putting their food outside can help if you have dogs and other small animals indoors that like to get into their feline sibling’s meals. Food and water can attract extra wildlife, so be mindful! Use these pictures for some cat patio ideas for your new cat play house and get started on your catio plans today!

    Rachel Long

    Written by

    Rachel Long

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