catioMost veterinarians (us included) agree that indoor cats enjoy more robust health, greater protection from dangers, and an overall longer lifespan than outdoor and indoor/outdoor cats. This arrangement works well for the reclusive, couch-potato kitties, but if your cat can be found gazing out the window or cackling at the sight of a bird, you might want to consider building him or her a catio.

What is a Catio?

A catio is an enclosed, protected outdoor space for cats! This fast-growing trend is a wonderful way to provide your indoor cat with access to the outdoors, while keeping him or her protected from common threats such as other animals, cars, and communicable diseases. The more than 3 billion birds and 20 million small animals who are killed by domestic cats each year will also thank you for letting your pet look but not touch.

Environmental Enrichment

Providing your indoor cat with plenty of interesting things to see and do, along with making sure he or she gets some form of daily exercise, is the responsibility of every cat owner. These two worlds collide easily when you have a catio, which provides the environmental enrichment your pet needs.

Grab Your Tools

A catio can be constructed in just about any size, shape, and overall style you can imagine. A talented DIY-er could probably draw up their own plans, but the average owner may have better luck ordering a catio kit or hiring a professional. You might also opt to screen-in an already existing outdoor living space, such as a deck or front porch, where you and kitty can enjoy being outside together.

Material Check

Choose sturdy, nontoxic materials for your catio, such as wood, galvanized wire, mesh screening, or cedar shelves/perches that can withstand the elements. Consider the type of flooring you’ll be using (e.g., existing grass or dirt, AstroTurf, pavers, indoor/outdoor carpeting, etc.), and make sure to include protection from the elements in the form of a sturdy roof and plenty of shady spots.

Elements of Interest

Now for the fun part! Make your catio a more enjoyable place for your cat to play, relax, and stretch his or her legs with the following feline-friendly accouterments:

  • Ramps or steps to high vantage points
  • Tunnels
  • Scratching posts
  • Cardboard box
  • Hanging feathers or balls
  • Bedding
  • Litter box (well hidden)
  • Circulating water fountain or bowl of fresh water

Although there will be plenty of things for your cat to look at outside the catio, you can add elements of interest by positioning a birdbath, bird feeders, or butterfly-attracting flowers near the enclosure.

The Importance of Cat Wellness

Remember, the team at The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital is always here for you and your cat. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns!