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Outdoor Entertaining: The Catio

Outdoor Entertaining: The Catio

It’s no secret that I’m an avid cat lover! And if you’ve shared the majority of your life with cats, as I have, then it’s no secret that they love the great outdoors. And while I firmly believe cats to be of the highest intelligence, they don’t always use the best judgment when out basking in the sun, conducting surveillance on songbirds or stalking chipmunks.

Just like for people, I think the fresh air and sunshine can improve the physical and mental health of a cat. However, cats tend to wander and wildlife predators as well as fast-moving vehicles can prove tragic to an unsuspecting cat.

So how do you fulfill your kitty’s call of the wild? Enter…the Catio. A catio is a cute name for a cat patio, or outdoor cat enclosure. While I’ve mostly attempted to please Mr. Bud by keeping him on a leash while we’re outside, it doesn’t provide a lot of mobility or independence.

The premise of a catio is to create an outdoor space, where your cat has room to move, perch and play, all from the safety of an enclosed area. My friend Madeline has just completed her cat enclosure and has me seriously considering building one of my own.

Through the research I’ve done so far, I’ve discovered that the size and types of cat enclosures are as varied as breeds of cats themselves. So do you build your Siamese a slick kitty condo? Or create a rustic wooden home for your rescue? There’s not necessarily only one right way to do this; instead, consider the following: 

  • the outdoor space you have available to devote to a cat enclosure
  • the number of cats that will be using the space
  • how the cats will access the enclosure (i.e. from an indoor window, a built in kitty door, or a space that you carry them to)
  • create a budget; determine how much you’re willing to spend
  • research materials (different types of wire, screen, types of wood, hardware etc.)
  • consider a door/opening large enough for you to enter. If the enclosure is on a patio, you’ll likely want to clean it occasionally. If it’s on part of your lawn, you’ll need to get in and trim the grass

If you’re pretty handy, this is a DIY project you can likely take on yourself. If not, consider hiring a carpenter. There are companies that provide plans if you need help designing your catio and a company that specializes in cat tube connectors. However you approach it, your kitties will thank you!


Shelley Nicholson

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