How to Build a Catio (And Why Your Cat Will Love It!)
Catio? No, this isn’t a typo. Similar to a patio, a “catio” is an outdoor space meant for entertaining and relaxation – but for your cat! Catios are all the rage and have many awesome benefits for our indoor feline companions. But what exactly is it and why is it good for your purr friend?
Like many pet owners, we understand the dilemma of wanting to allow your cat some outdoor time even though it isn’t always the safest option. Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives than their free-roaming counterparts, but not without some consequences in the area of behavioral enrichment.
Enrichment means that your cat is allowed to express normal instinctive behaviors like stalking, scratching, hiding, and pouncing. The great news is that your little lion can do all of that safely with a catio. This enclosed outdoor space allows your cat the best of both worlds.
What You Will Need
If you fancy yourself a DIY-er, there’s every reason to grab your tools and get to work building the ultimate catio. You can find plans online or you can simply purchase a ready-to-build catio kit that comes with everything you need.
Most catios are made out of good quality wood and metal screening small enough to keep your cat in and other critters out. Some creative pet parents have also repurposed the following:
- Dog kennels (at the right height with a canopy or other cat-proof cover)
- Chicken fencing and enclosures
- Regular screening for an already existing porch
- PVC piping
- Small window box design that attaches to a window or sliding door
You’ll also want to include several fun activities in your catio, such as ramps, scratching posts, cat trees, toys, and places to relax and nap (like patio chairs or carpet-lined cat cubes).
You may even want to incorporate plants and trees already in the yard – just make sure you don’t enclose any foliage that’s toxic to kitties. Many pet owners like to build their catios large enough for humans to occupy, including patio furniture for relaxing (and more cat cuddle time!).
There are so many advantages to allowing your whiskered friend some quality time with Mother Nature, such as:
- Safety first – A catio allows for safe outdoor playtime, keeping other animals away.
- Mental enrichment – Your cat will love to watch birds and enjoy the sounds and sights of the outdoors.
- Exercise – Your pet is sure to get more exercise with all the climbing and perching spots.
- Happy cats – Cats will feel much better when they’re allowed to express normal kitty behaviors (which includes daydreaming about catching those sparrows!).
Don’t forget, just because your cat is safe from larger animals, parasites and infectious diseases are still dangerous to indoors cats. Make sure your pet is current on vaccinations and parasite preventives before he or she is allowed to venture into the catio.