When it comes to making their furry friends happy, cat owners are accustomed to thinking outside the box. Between cat trees and hammocks, window perches and cardboard castles, they try their best to ensure their cats remain comfortable, secure, curious, and connected to their environment.
For strictly indoor cats that show an eagerness to roam, chase, and frolic beyond the safe confines of the house, finding ways to keep them entertained can be a challenge. A clever alternative to roaming the neighborhood is to build a catio.
Free Roaming Comes With a Cost
Sure, cats allowed to wander the alleyways and roads around their homes may have more feline fun. However, indoor-outdoor cats are at risk of accidental injury or death, exposure to contagious diseases and parasites, and can even get lost or picked up.
The Birds & Mice Will Thank You
Another reason to build a catio is to protect the wildlife of your neighborhood from the predatory instincts belonging to your cat. Known to prey upon mice and birds, even well-fed cats can’t always refrain from a game of chase and pounce.
While some indoor-only cats are content inside the safe, warm, cozy confines of a house, many whine and chirp to be let outside. It could be the simple allure of the fresh air and sunshine, but with so many possible risks it can feel like you’re doing them a disservice by opening the back door.
A Genuine Gift
A catio is a safe, fully enclosed outdoor space designed just for your cat. They can feel the sun, smell the breeze, and stare at all the possible prey surrounding them.
Some catios are set up in the middle of a yard so the cat inside is fully immersed in the natural world. Others are build right off the back door or a ground floor window for easy access. To build a catio at your house, check out this simple plan or peruse these DIY catio plans for the right one for your cat.
Every cat’s needs are different, and your can customize their catio to suit them. The following suggestions aim to help you get the ball rolling:
- Choose materials that are sturdy, clean, and able to withstand the elements long term.
- Solid wood framing, galvanized wire, sturdy mesh, and cedar shelves are top-notch components.
- If you’re installing a floor, be sure you can clean it well. Some owners use Astroturf or outdoor carpet that can be rinsed off. More permanent choices include pavers or flagstones, wood flooring, or even lightweight vinyl planks. Otherwise, your cat may like the look and feel of natural grass beneath their paws.
- Shelves for sunbathing, climbing, or perching are key. Also, consider making a bridge or hammock.
- Purchase cat-safe plants for the catio, such as ferns, rubber plants, ponytail palms, and of course, catnip.
- Install scratching posts, ramps, stairways, tunnels, hiding spots, and even a nice chair for napping in (or simply a cardboard box!).
- If your cat loves to bird watch, place a small feeder or bath nearby for them to watch.
- Don’t forget water, snacks, and a well-concealed litter box!
Build a Catio, Smell the Roses
The bottom line is that when you build a catio, your indoor cat’s quality of life greatly improves with their safety and health intact.