Next Level Feline Ownership: If You Build a Catio, They Will Purr
Ask any cat owner and they’ll quickly confirm that cats are the perfect pets. They’re interesting, captivatingly beautiful, clever, fun, and snuggly to boot. Indoor-only cats are arguably healthier than ones allowed to roam, but they can definitely suffer the consequences of their static environment. Yes, they can become bored.
The best thing an owner can do for their fluffy best friend is to give them the best of both worlds. Build a catio, and watch your cat become the happiest, most fulfilled (and safest) version of themselves!
What is a Catio?
A catio is an enclosure that is outdoors, often built of screen and other materials that can allow the best parts of the outside to filter in, while protecting your kitty from the elements, wildlife, and other dangers. Catios can often have multiple levels, catwalks, hammocks, and other frills built in, to keep your feline friend entertained (as if watching squirrels wasn’t enough!). In short, a catio allows your cat a taste of the great outdoors, all the while sheltering them from the potential hazards that may await them, should they roam free.
While cats were domesticated long after dogs, they demonstrate a surprising skill set regarding sharing space with people. Each part of a cat’s brain is compartmentalized but connected which gives cats the ability to understand, react to, and even manipulate their environments. Likewise, cats are great with:
- Memory recall (both short and long term)
- Making decisions
- Solving problems
- Processing language
However, cats are notoriously stubborn and even uncooperative. This can be perceived as mysterious, but it is also further proof of high intelligence.
What Do They Need?
It is because of their cleverness that cats not only require, but depend on, a series of interesting and engaging things to do. In short, they must be physically and mentally fit in order to be truly healthy. For an indoor-only cat, this can be challenging to achieve – especially when a cat reaches middle age or the senior years.
Build a Catio
Indoor cat enrichment should be a huge priority for cat owners. If/when feathers and laser pointers begin to feel a bit stale, it may be time to build a catio.
Ward Off Boredom
When you build a catio for your cat, they are not only given a huge opportunity to participate in the wider world around them (The birds! The flowers! The breeze! The sunshine!), but they move around, climb, perch, and even hunt, giving those muscles a good workout.
Some important components of catios (cat-patios) include:
- Points of entry and exit to/from the main house (some catios are accessible via an exterior window or door on the home, others through a tunnel or walkway)
- A fully enclosed perimeter and roof (remember, you want to protect your cat from predators, but you also want to protect wildlife like birds from your cat)
- Perches, ramps, bridges, steps, hammocks, catwalks and more (optimal vertical space is key!)
- Scratching post
- Hiding spot (cardboard boxes, anyone?)
- Cuddle spot (the inclusion of a comfy chair is nice, or you can install a soft bed on a perch)
- Fresh, clean water
- Equally shady and sunny spots
- Cat-friendly plants
- Flooring (is the catio designed to be moved around? Is it sitting on grass, rock, concrete? Make appropriately feline-centered choices when thinking about this important surface)
The Long View
Now that you’ve got a plan to build a catio, you can rest assured that your cat will be absolutely contented. Remember to keep them updated on their vaccinations and parasite prevention!