A cat’s natural instinct is one of a predatory animal and to satisfy that nature, they might be spending a lot of time trying to get to the great outdoors. Unless you have a cat familiar with outdoors and the dangers it can possess, this can prove to be detrimental. There is a great solution to this problem and its name is catios.
Catios are enclosures or structures designed for a cat that secures to a household window or door and allows them to experience the outdoors while maintaining a safe environment. A major selling point of owning a catio would have to be it isn’t necessarily a product you have to purchase through a retailer but one that can be built by hand. There are different types of “cat patios” for a D.I.Y fan and various designs available for the handyperson to assemble themselves.
Why Does My Indoor Cat Want to Go Outside?
Cats are curious creatures who possess a keen hunting sense bred through generations. From the largest feline such as a lion to a domestic housecat, the urge to explore is always present. Another factor that can be pushing your cat to make a break for it every time a door to the outside opens could be sheer boredom. This boredom could create problems in their personality, causing destructive tendencies. Creating a more interesting home can make your cat content and less likely to destroy their current surroundings.
What are Catios?
A catio is an outdoor enclosed structure designed to be secured to a window or door leading outside your home and allow cats to experience the outdoors in a safe environment. Generally, the most consistent style is a frame and wire enclosure with a single entry/exit point that allows the outdoors in but removes the opportunity for your cat to slip out.
Most catios are surrounded on the roof and/or walls with heavy plastic to decrease exposure to the elements and parasites. CBC News ran an article explaining how “catios” are a thing and items used to spruce up your cats new hangout with tips from a couple who built their three cats their own catio! Catios can have play areas, eating areas and even be designed to increase their activity level through level changes or toys.
Why Should I Build a Catio?
Cats can be either unpredictable beings or creatures of habit, but either way, we want them out of harm’s way for both ours and their peace of mind. Catios offer the excitement of the outdoors without any of the dangers/risks which can be fatal to felines in some cases. “Unless you have exposed your cat to the outdoor environment, they do not have a sense of what is dangerous and what is safe” according to PetsEducation.
The top risks to an indoor cat who suddenly finds themselves outside could range from:
- Vehicles: Cats that do not possess street smarts can find themselves confused and dart in and out of traffic without realizing the danger,
- Unfriendly Animals: Cats that have been sheltered in a home probably has not encountered hostile threats and will not understand what is occurring when face-to-face with an angry animal,
- Disease: Cats can be exposed to harmful germs, bacteria, and viruses by coming in contact with other animals, garbage, feces or poisonous materials such as antifreeze,
- Harsh Conditions: Weather conditions can change within seconds, leaving your cat exposed to the elements; wind, rain, snow etc.,
- Humans: Not all people are animal lovers and there have been cases of humans injuring cats for digging in its yard or hunting birds on their property
By having a catio, the chances of exposure to these dangers are next to nil. Your cat will be able to experience fresh air, bird watch and soak up the sun in a relaxed environment without a worry in the world (bonus!). Depending on the size of your yard, a catio can be built for either one cat or multiple cats and generally have a design that is easily dismantled for storage during winter months.
Finding Out How to Build Your Own Catio
Catios range from simple to elaborate and deciding what style best suits both yours and the cats’ needs can be tough. “Should you add a window or will this fit my apartment?” could be running through your mind. There are resources available that can aid in your decision-making and can be found through books, videos, internet, and magazines. Some retailers offer a variety of designs and blueprints available for purchase or social media sites such as Pinterest offer galleries to decide how to decorate the inside. While searching the web, you can find personal D.I.Y designs from people who actually built a catio and the exact hardware/steps needed. Most catios are built with products available from your local hardware store (wood/nails/plastic) for a low cost or you may even have these items at home.
Domestic cats that don’t have a lot of activity or reasons to exercise their predatory nature can find themselves on a downward spiral to laziness and weight problems. We wouldn’t want that for ourselves, so why let that happen to your cat? Using a catio will fight this trend and provide your feline with a sense of enrichment while providing them a safe environment to explore. Maybe with a catio, the next time a door is opened, your cat will just ignore the urge to flee and instead watch activity unfolding from their own domain!