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A cat in a cage looking through a wire fence outdoors.
Pet Blog

How a Catio Can Keep Your Cat Safe and Happy


If your cat craves time outside but you’re worried about keeping them safe, a catio might be the perfect solution! Keep reading to find the cat-safe enclosure that’s the right fit for your home.

What Is a Catio?

“Catio” is a mashup of the words “cat” and “patio,” and it’s just what it sounds like: an outdoor space designed for your cat! Catios are fully fenced in areas (including a roof!) that provide room for your cat to play, sunbathe, and get some fresh air while keeping them safely contained and close to home. They can range from a small window box to an expansive cat run stretching across your backyard.

What’s the Benefit of Installing a Catio?

There’s a lot of debate about whether it’s better to have an indoor or outdoor cat. While the outdoors provide a lot of enrichment for your cat, they also include a lot of dangers. Plus, your little household predator can be a danger all their own to your local wildlife!

Building a contained, cat-safe area like a catio is a great way to expose your cat to the outdoors while keeping them in a safe and controlled environment. If you have a catio large enough for you to enter, it can also provide another way to bond with your cat as you play and relax together in a space you made just for them.

How to Find the Right Catio for You

Finding the right catio for your cat and your home is all about knowing what options you have! There’s a huge variety of sizes, materials, and styles to choose from, which means there’s a good chance you can find a catio design to fit your space and your budget.

Catios are typically built from wood or metal frames with wire or mesh screening surrounding the entire catio. You should make sure that any materials you choose are cat safe—and don’t forget to choose a mesh that’s sturdy enough to stand up to the claws of any wannabe escape artists!

When it comes to the placement of a catio, they’re most often placed at an existing window or door for easy access without needing to cut any holes in your home. You can find window inserts with a built-in cat flap and opening your door for your cat couldn’t be simpler (except for when they can’t decide on in or out). However, you can really place your catio anywhere you’re willing to install a cat door for an entrance!

The design of a catio is where things get really exciting and you can get creative! The simplest catios are modest window boxes that sit on an added window ledge and require minimal installation. They provide a nice spot for your cat to sit and get sun and fresh air and can be a good introduction to the outdoors for entirely indoor cats to gauge their interest in exploring further.

If you want to go bigger with your catio plans, you can create a catio big enough to accommodate human guests too! Placing your catio at an existing door of your home or adding a door to one of the walls of the catio allows easy access for cleaning and maintenance (and checking on your mischief-maker). If you have the room, you can even set up outdoor furniture in the catio so you can kick back and relax with your cat! Joint sunbathing sessions, here you come.

The most extravagant catios can include multiple catio spaces connected by tunnels to take advantage of every inch of your yard! That could look like a comfy catio area to sit and sip your morning coffee in attached to another catio space near your garden so your cat can hang out nearby and watch all the action while you tend your veggies.

Don’t forget to take advantage of vertical space too. Cats are natural climbers, and a variety of shelves, ramps, and climbing posts will make it easy for them to leap, climb, and explore even in spaces with a small footprint. All those perches will also provide the perfect places for your cat to settle in and survey their newfound backyard kingdom!

When it comes to actually building a catio, you have a few options. If you want to keep your workload light and hand things off to the experts, there are many companies that design custom catios to meet your needs and can be installed by any handyman.

If you’re looking to roll up your sleeves and do the work yourself, you can find DIY catio plans online or keep things simple by adding screening to an existing structure like your porch. If you’re hoping for something in the middle, you can buy ready-to-install catio kits that require minimal expertise but skip the cost of expert installation.

No matter what type of catio you choose, it’ll be a welcome addition for your feline best friend! Bold cats will be hyped to get out there, and you might be surprised by how much even timid cats can fall in love with their new outdoor space. Pay attention to their body language and you’ll see just how much they love it as their tail twitches watching the birds go by or they belly flop in a sunbeam!