It’s no secret that cats love the indoors — the weather’s great year-round, there’s a human to pet and feed them, and there’s no stress of neighborhood bullies or predators. But even the most indoor-loving cats can get bored being inside all the time.
While indoor cats love their comfortable lifestyle, some still love outdoor exercise and exploration. And, if your cat isn’t the type to enjoy going on a walk with you, an outdoor enclosure (a catio) provides your cat with safe outdoor enrichment.
If you have an adventurous cat or one that loves to sunbathe, a catio allows them to reap the benefits of being an outdoor cat without the risks associated with prowling the neighborhood.
Certain types of cats will love catios, while others won’t. These are the types of cats that might enjoy a catio:
If your cat is shy or reclusive, they probably won’t enjoy time in a catio.
First, take into consideration the amount of space you have and where you want your catio to be located. Be mindful if you live in an area with skunks, raccoons, or free-roaming neighborhood cats that may upset your cat.
Window catios. Does your home lack outside space? If you live on the ground floor, try a small window unit that allows your cat to explore just a few feet outside in an enclosed space. If you live in a condo or apartment, a window perch can provide similar enrichment for them without the risk of them falling.
Portable catios. Repurpose a baby’s playpen by adding a screened top and you’ve got a portable catio that you can set up on-the-go. There are also kitty containment systems, like the Kitty Walk, and soft-sided crates that offer a non-permanent way to enjoy the outdoors with your cat.
Porch catios. If you have a screened in porch, you already have a basic catio. Ensure that the exits are secure and provide your cat some elevated perches or ways for them to safely take in the view of the outside.
Freestanding catios. The possibilities are endless. Freestanding catios can be as big as you’d like. There are many pre-fabricated catios that you can purchase, or you can DIY one of your own (some websites even sell plans so you can make one from scratch). There are even DIY catios using IKEA shelving units!
A catio or even a screened-in window will keep other animals out, but it won’t necessarily keep out parasites. Even if parasites never go into a catio, fleas, intestinal worm eggs, and mosquitoes often easily find their way into homes. Make sure your cat is on a safe and effective preventative medication that protects from fleas, ticks, heartworm, and intestinal worms.