As we head toward summer’s warmer temperatures and longer days, your docile indoor kitty may suddenly turn into a door dasher or screen slasher. Signs of stress and aggression in indoor cats can be caused by unsatisfied urges for fresh air, hunting, and a taste of the outdoors. Here is why your cat needs a catio:
If your cat (and you) are experiencing these seasonal changes, you can increase playtime indoors or satisfy your cat’s natural desire for stimulation by providing additional territory outdoors. However, if a cat is allowed to roam freely, the dangers of the outdoors can increase vet bills or reduce your pet’s lifespan. The safe solution for a cat-friendly home all year long? A catio!
Catios, a portmanteau of “cat” and “patios,” are outdoor cat enclosures that solve the indoor/outdoor dilemma and protect precious birds and wildlife in your backyard. One of the joys of catios for cat parents is peace of mind knowing your cat is protected from predators, poisons, and diseases, as well as from getting hit by a car, lost, locked in a garage, or chased up a tree. You also won’t be the recipient of a gut-wrenching feathered “gift” from your feline hunter.
For cats, the catio lifestyle offers endless ways to exercise, enjoy the wind in their whiskers, chase bugs, watch birds (the best cat TV!), and partake in family activities in your backyard.
Catios can be built in various sizes to suit your feline’s fancy and complement your home and garden. Whether you purchase a DIY catio plan, pre-assembled kit, or hire a carpenter to build a custom catio for you, the creativity and options are endless. CatioSpaces.com offers awesome, easy-to-build DIY catio plans. The minimum catio enclosure is 75-100 square feet.
Vertical and horizontal spaces can be built using cedar shelves, branches, steps, and bridges. Carpet-covered lounging areas allow for cat naps in the sun. Cat-safe plants, toys, and scratchers provide additional stimulation. You can also add an outdoor litter box for convenience and to help reduce indoor litter odours, though it should never replace your indoor litter box.
When choosing the best location for your catio, consider:
- How much space is available?
- The amount of light—a sunny or part-sun site is best; shade-cloth and cat houses can offer shade.
- How your cat will access the catio. While you can certainly carry your cat to the catio, the joy of catios is your feline’s freedom to access the enclosure based on their timing.
Cat doors for a window, wall, slider patio, or door are the gateway to a safe catio experience. Cat doors can also include locks or a lock-out panel to control your kitty’s outdoor time.
If you have limited space in your garden or have a small deck or balcony, a three-sided catio located against your house, such as a window box or a narrow and tall catio, is a good choice. Your cat can easily access the catio directly through a cat door. For larger spaces, a cat tunnel—elevated, on the ground, or along a fence—can connect your home to a standalone four-sided catio further away from the house. One of my favourite custom catio projects was building four catios in various locations connected by 150 feet of cat tunnels—the lucky cats could completely circumnavigate the house and garden!
Larger catios offer space for humans and can be decorated to complement your home and personal style (think “she sheds” for cats and humans). Add outdoor rugs, seating, pillows, and decor to create a mutually enjoyable outdoor room for you and your cat. Time spent in nature and bonding with your cat is good for you too.
Bottom line? Cats naturally crave outdoor stimulation, and happy cats equal happy cat parents. A catio is the purrfect outdoor solution to keep cats safe and enriched year-round.