by Soojin Um
You may have seen them in magazines, on social media posts, or when driving through your neighborhood. Catios, or cat patios, have become very popular in recent years with cat parents who have indoor cats. These patios give cats a taste of the outdoors, while protecting them from the potential harms of the outside world. These open-air playpens are great for cats who yearn for nature, but also give peace of mind to cat parents who are not comfortable with the idea of their cats roaming around outside on their own.
So what are catios like? They can be as simple or as elaborate as you prefer, especially if you’re making it yourself. Catios for purchase also come in a variety of designs and sizes. They can be standalone structures or attached to your house. The only limit is your imagination.
Catios are enclosed so that your cats can’t run away. They usually comprise of kennel-style cages, and some use chicken wire for areas that need to bend or have an odd shape that a cage would not be able to seal off. Cats are known to dig on occasion as well, so you should be aware of the ground or flooring where the catio is erected upon.
The enclosure also prevents other animals from entering the catios, whether they be the neighbor’s dog, feral cats, or wild animals. This makes the area safe from outside dangers, and provides a sanctuary where your cats can savor the joys of nature in peace.
Thinking of building your own? There are many videos and articles on how to make your own catio. It depends on what you want and your budget, and you can always modify and expand the one you have. For starters, if you already have a patio on your house, you can just enclose it with wood beams, metal cages, wire, or even glass. It could be a fun project for the whole family.
Once a catio is built (or purchased), you can furnish it with anything you like. You could have a variety of cat towers, cat trees, and cat condos for your feline friends to play and hide in. Maybe even a scratching post or two to keep them entertained. While you’re at it, why not put in a patio lounge chair and a gazebo so that you can enjoy the outdoors with your cat?
If you are going to build or buy a catio, you may need to consult your local ordinance and homeowners’ association. Some laws may require you to get a permit from the city before you build any structure that’s connected to your house. If you live in an apartment or you rent a house, you definitely want to consult your landlord to make sure they approve of a catio. Even if they are fine with it, they still would have to check if zoning or local ordinances allow for it. You wouldn’t want to get a fine (or the ire of your neighbors or landlord) for just wanting your cats to experience the outdoors. So it might be best to make sure you’re in the clear before you get started.
Catios can be a great experience for your cat. Living indoors, while safe and comfortable, is inherently artificial, even for us humans. For our beloved animals, it’s even more so. Giving them access to the outdoors and to nature can be a great benefit to them. And we’ll know we’re helping our loved ones connect to their instinctive, ancestral past.
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