There’s no doubt: Cat owners will do practically anything for their furry friends. One way to treat your kitty? With her very own catio! The outdoor enclosure lets her enjoy all sorts of sights, smells and sounds (or just snooze away) while still staying safe inside a secure space. Read on for advice from pet experts about the benefits of getting a catio, then take your pick from the top feline-approved options to suit just about any space. And for those who really want to impress even the most finicky cat, keep scrolling for pointers on how to DIY your own custom catio.
What is a catio?
A “catio” (which is a portmanteau of “cat” and “patio”) is an outdoor cat enclosure. It’s typically a dedicated space either attached to your home or in your yard that allows your cat to enjoy fresh air without running free. “It’s perfect for an indoor cat who is curious about the outside but isn’t sure enough to be outside without any protection,” says home project pro Forrest McCall, woodworker and co-owner of MamaNeedsaProject.com.
What are the benefits of getting a catio?
The idea of giving your cat her very own dream home within your property is enticing. After all, she improves your day just by existing, so why shouldn’t she get her own catio? But the benefits of a catio extend past the desire to give her the best gift ever.
Health and safety
For many cats, it’s not great for their overall well-being to keep them only inside or only outside, so catios provide the ideal balance of both. Cat behavior expert Dr. Mikel Maria Delgado has a catio for her own kitties, and she says it keeps them safe. “It protects them from dangers like being hit by a car, poisons or disease from other animals.” Having an outdoor enclosure like a catio also keeps predators and parasites at bay while still allowing your kitty to get fresh air.
“Allowing cats access to the outdoors provides huge benefits to their mental well-being,” says cat expert Sue Light, founder of WebCatCentral.com. “The variety of sights, sounds and smells from nature activate their senses and keep them mentally stimulated.” Mental stimulation keeps your cat happy and engaged, but it keeps you happy too. That’s because an entertained kitty is less likely to spray or soil inside your home, says Light.
Our top 4 catio picks
A custom-built catio can cost thousands of dollars. Luckily, premade options make it easy and affordable to find one that’ll suit your space — and, more important, your kitty. Here are top picks for every need:
1. Aivituvin Catio Outdoor Cat House
Treat your kitty like the princess she is with this catio that’s practically a castle! Super sturdy yet easy to move thanks to its caster wheels, the Aivituvin cat house features three levels, with plenty of spots to perch in and out of the sun. And it’s big enough to accommodate multi-cat households.
2. Kitty City Outdoor Mega Kit Cat Furniture
For a lighter-weight option that’s still plenty roomy, the Kitty City catio is made from nylon mesh and includes cubbies that can be rearranged to make sure your cat is endlessly entertained. And a convenient zip door gives you easy access.
3. Nala and Company Portable Outdoor Playpen
For adventure on the go, this portable catio is the perfect solution, then when playtime is over, the Nala playpen folds quickly into a travel pouch. Its petite footprint makes it also great if you have a small outdoor space.
Buy it for $42.48 at Wayfair.
4. K&H Pet Products EZ Mount Cat Window Perch
No outdoor space? No problem! Your kitty can still enjoy a bird’s eye view with their very own hammock. The K&H elevated cat bed easily attaches to a window with suction cups and can hold up to 50 lbs.
Buy it for $31.39 at Chewy.com.
Want to build your own catio?
There are multiple ways to create the perfect catio. While building one on your own may require more elbow grease, it allows you to customize every detail based on your available space and on your cat’s needs and desires. Need some inspiration? Take a look at the DIY catio plans from CatioSpaces.com. They offer plans as small as a window box or ones large enough for you to hang out in, too.
Where is the best place for a catio?
Whether you’re building from scratch or buying from the store, here are some of the most important things to consider with your catio:
Shade and shelter
“Make sure there are shaded areas within the outdoor space where your cat can retreat during hot weather,” says Mustafa Tshash, pet behavior specialist and co-founder of Howto-pets.com. “Providing shelter, such as a cozy outdoor cat house or a covered area, protects your cat from rain, wind and extreme temperatures.” Cats also feel safe when they can hide in small and dark spaces, adds Light.
Your cat doesn’t sit on top of the refrigerator just to annoy you. “Cats love high vantage points,” says Light. “They can watch for prey and it makes them feel safe. It also vertically increases their territory.” Having perching and climbing options like shelves and ramps also encourages your cat to exercise and explore, says Dr. Delgado. “Just make sure that the shelves are close rough that it is easy for your cat to jump from one level to another.”
Toys and enrichment
While your cat may be content just to lay in a sun spot and nap the day away, adding things like toys and scratching posts make the catio even more enjoyable. “Scratching posts are essential for claw maintenance and protect your furniture,” notes Light. (Speaking of claw maintenance, click through to learn how to trim cat nails at home.) “Choose one with a sturdy base that doesn’t wobble, and that is tall enough to accommodate your cat at full stretch.” You can add some entertainment outside the catio too, says Dr. Delgado. “I have a few bird feeders in my backyard that ensure my cats have an endless stream of squirrels and birds to watch!”
What would your kitty’s ideal catio look like? Whether it’s small and cozy or palatial and spacious, your cat is sure to appreciate it.
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