It's that time of year when your cat looks longingly out the window and may even attempt a quick escape when the door is left partly ajar. Not that the great outdoors might not be tempting to some felines even when the weather is less hospitable. But any time of year, indoors is far safer than the outside where cats are at risk from cars, predators, toxic plants and pesticides, not to mention neighbors who aren’t cat friendly. WebMd points out, “Cats who are kept indoors can reach the ripe old age of 17 or more years, whereas outdoor cats live an average of just two to five years. Another reason for indoor cats’ longevity is that it’s easier for their owners to identify health problems early, before they become life threatening.”
But being indoors all day can also cause some kitties distress, especially if you or some other family member isn’t around to provide entertainment and companionship. Being cooped inside is no “day in the park” for a kitty (or even a human, for that matter).
In order to enable a beloved kitty to enjoy nature without roaming the neighborhood; many cat parents are increasingly turning to catios. Catios, which are secure outdoor enclosures, allow kitties to enjoy the breezes and watch the wildlife from the safety of the enclosure without exposure to hazards. Ideally, they will get needed exercise in their indoor/outdoor space, too.
Cat enclosures built on your property can be as simple and elaborate as you want – permanent or portable. Even apartment dwellers have options for catios that extend window environments
Catio Spaces suggests several things to consider when building a catio. Among them:
Window or wall access: Cat doors can be placed in a window, wall or door to provide your cat with direct access into the catio or into a cat tunnel leading to a freestanding catio that is further away from the house. Since senior cats may have more difficulty getting into the catio than younger cats, you may want to add a ramp or pet stairs for access. However, no matter where you put entrance, your cats will adapt to it once they know they have access to fresh air and the stimulation of the outdoors.
Low or high dweller: Does your cat like to hide under tables, or in tight spaces or perch on the tallest furniture to survey the room. For cats that like to hide, a smaller catio that is close to the ground may make them feel secure and safe. Cats who like to get up high, may be happier in a taller catio with lots of shelves and perches.
Sun or shade: Keep in mind if you cat likes the sunshine or prefers the shade as you consider where to place the catio on your property. Build your catio in relationship to the orientation of the sun.
Also give some thought to personalizing the catio. Include in your catio, toys, beds and other cat furniture that your cat enjoys in the house.
Whatever design you choose or whatever the size of your catio, large or small, your cat will enjoy the safe access to the outdoors for years to come. And you’ll feel better knowing your cat is safe while having lots of enjoyment.
You can find more examples of DIY and already assembled catios at these links: