There’s no question that pet cats live longer, healthier lives when they are kept exclusively indoors. Indoor cats are protected from injury, have fewer problems with illness and disease, and tend to have much longer lifespans than their outdoor peers. That being said, any cat owner who has witnessed his or her cat stare longingly out the window for hours on end probably doesn’t feel completely comfortable with the indoor-only arrangement.

But what other option is there? Enter, the “catio”!

All of us at Clairmont Animal Hospital believe that indoor cats shouldn’t miss out on fun and enrichment, which is why we are so excited to tell you all about something called a catio and how you can build one for your feline friends!

The Nitty Gritty

A catio is exactly what it sounds like: a secure, outdoor space that is completely enclosed and is specifically designed for the enjoyment of cats. Catios provide the following benefits:

  • A way for your cat to enjoy nature and the outdoors while remaining protected from cars and predators
  • An alternate location to keep cats who don’t get along with each other separated
  • Important environmental enrichment for indoor cats
  • Reducing the number of birds and wildlife killed each year by free-roaming cats

Your Personal Style

One of the best parts about installing a catio on your home’s exterior is that you can customize it to meet your own personal tastes. Some people prefer a small, window-box style, while others opt to construct a larger area where cats can get some exercise. Screening in a front porch, balcony, or existing outdoor sitting area is another option, and can provide a comfortable place for people and cats to enjoy being outside together.

Before You Begin

There are a few companies out there that offer custom catio construction, but since these are few and far between (as of right now), you will most likely be building your own. Before you dust off your tools, make sure that you have secured permission, if necessary. Renters will need to clear the new construction with the landlord and property owners should inquire about a city permit or permission from a homeowner’s association.

Building Your Own Catio

If you’re short on carpentry skills, ordering a catio kit might be the perfect way to get kitty some fresh air and sunshine without compromising your sanity! Those of us who are up for a little construction challenge can purchase pre-drawn plans, or come up with our own design. Whichever route you decide to go, make sure to take the following into consideration:

  • Materials – Catios should be constructed of durable, nontoxic materials, such as wood or metal.
  • Security – Make sure the catio frame is strong, all components are securely attached, and that there are no openings a cat could potentially squeeze through, even at the top.
  • Protection from the elements – Kitty will need plenty of shade in the summer, as well as a cozy place to retreat from rain and other inclement weather.
  • Amenities – Depending on the size and location of your catio, you can add a variety of feline friendly amenities to make it feel like home for your cat, such as a cat tree, scratching post, litter box, and, of course, fresh water at all times.

Do you have a catio? We’d love to see it! Post a picture on our Facebook page or other social media, or let us know how your kitty likes it the next time you bring him or her in for a wellness checkup.