Cats love being outside, and much like us, they need sunshine, to feel the breeze, and to breathe the clean fresh air to remain healthy and happy. Living in a city can make things challenging as city cats should not be freely roaming outside. There are too many threats, people, vehicles, dogs, etc. Living in the country affords some families a bit more freedom in how they let their cats interact with the outdoors, but even then, new threats arise like coyotes or wolves.
So, what is the best compromise? That’s where catios come in. A catio is an outdoor structure, typically attached to the home (so the cats may come and go as they please through their own pet door), screened-in for the cats to hang out in safely. They look a lot like a patio, but they are for cats – hence the name catio.
*Special note: regardless of whether you build your own design, or from a kit, do not use chicken wire to screen in the catio. We recommend plastic-coated chain-link or an industrial fencing that’s not sharp and has a soft coating. The width of the fencing should be smaller than the size of a cat’s head.
How to Acquire/Build a Catio
Like many backyard projects, you can go one of two ways. You can create one from scratch, or you can buy a kit.
Catios are pretty simple structures – wood framing, some sort of screen material (make sure it is stronger than a typical home window screen, cats can slice through them with ease), and ideally, you’d build platforms and other areas for them to sit on or interact with. You want to make it attractive to encourage the cats to play outside, all without any worry about risk.
Building your DIY catio can be a great project as it doesn’t require a ton of experience or material. The first thing you need to determine is the size and shape. Do you want to be able to enter the catio as well? This all must be considered.
Catspaces.com has some great DIY catio plans available for purchase.
Most smaller catios are either elevated or kept on the ground and are usually the height of your cat standing up as tall as it can go. If you want one you can enter or even leave a chair in so you can join the cats at any point, you’re going to need to think taller. Seven to eight feet should be enough.
Most catios consist of a wood frame wrapped with thin aluminium fencing (the type you might see at a construction site). If you don’t have a saw, you can get most lumber yards to make cuts for you at the time of purchase. And don’t forget to be creative!
If you are comfortable using the tools and materials, go ahead and do it yourself! If you aren’t comfortable building something like this on your own, you can either hire someone to put it together for you, or you can order a pre-designed kit!
Habitat Haven is a catio company offering a wealth of different designs, options, or even alternative structures to keep your cats happy. Check out their catalogue of catio kits available to ship to your home.
A pre-designed kit will still need to be assembled once it arrives at your door. If you aren’t sure what tools you’ll need, wait for the package to arrive and check out the manual/instructions – it should make it clear for you.
Get outside and enjoy life with your cats! Cats love being outdoors and they especially love being around their family. These loving little creatures want nothing more than to lay down near you and fall asleep, and if they can do it with a gentle wind blowing past them or in some sunlight, they’re all the more happier.