Are you a cat lover looking for a new way to give your furry friends some outside time but worried about their safety?
Look no further – creating an outdoor cat enclosure is the perfect solution for keeping your kitties safe and entertained.
With a little bit of planning, you can provide your cats with the freedom to explore the great outdoors without compromising their safety or happiness.
In this blog post, we’ll outline the top ways to make your cat enclosure a fun and exciting outdoor space your cat can enjoy for many years.
What is a Catio?
A catio (aka. cat patio) is an outdoor enclosure designed for cats to enjoy the outdoors safely.
It is essentially a large cat cage. It can either be freestanding, connected to your house, or built around an existing porch area.
Some cat owners will have their kitty live inside a large catio full time. Others will use it so their house cats can have a few hours of safe outdoor time and fresh air each day.
It will usually feature both a sheltered ‘house’ area for resting and a wire ‘run’ area for playing.
A catio provides your cat with the opportunity to explore the outdoors without being able to leave your backyard. Being outdoors regularly provides fresh air, sunshine, mental stimulation, and physical exercise, resulting in a healthier and happier pet.
By using a catio and preventing your cat from wandering too far, you minimise the risk of them; getting lost, being stolen, being hit by a car, fighting with other cats, or being exposed to various feline diseases.
It also helps protect native wildlife and birds from your hungry kitty cat.
What Makes a Good Outdoor Cat Enclosure?
Having your cat contained in a secure outdoor enclosure can provide peace of mind for you. But how do you go about choosing one that makes your cat happy too?
The key is to choose a catio enclosure with lots of fun features and accessories:
A cat hammock is a perch for your cat that is suspended above the ground. It is a fun alternative to a bed, made from pet friendly material that is easy to clean.
Some cat hammocks will come on a stand and can be simply placed on the ground in the run section of your catio.
However, some hammocks will need to be hung up from your catio. When you attach the cat hammock, always attach it onto the wood or metal frame.
Never have it attached onto the wire mesh on the sides, as this is unlikely to take the weight of your cat and may break.
Effectively using the space in a cat enclosure can be a challenge. Sure, there is lots of floor space. But does it give your cat the freedom to explore different heights?
Cats love being up high as it gives them an excellent view of their surroundings. They instinctively seek out places where they can keep a lookout to ensure their safety.
By adding shelves or perches to your catio, you are using the space and height more efficiently and guaranteeing your cats will enjoy themselves more.
Adding a bridge to your cat enclosure can be a fun way to give them the ultimate outdoor experience. A bridge is designed to connect two shelves together and is usually made from timber or rope.
Not only is a bridge an easy way for your cat to move from one platform to another, but it also an addition place for them to perch up high and encourages them to explore their environment.
Cat tunnels are an enclosed pathway designed to connect a catio to your house. They allow an indoor cat to come and go from the enclosure as they please.
This is convenient for you as a cat owner. Without a tunnel, you’ll need to pick up your cat and walk it to the catio. This can be a stressful experience if you have a cat that is hard to catch or doesn’t like being picked up.
You will need to securely connect one end of the cat tunnel to your house. This can either join onto a small kitchen window, bathroom window, cat door, or cat flap.
Cat beds are a great way to make sure your beloved feline feels comfortable and at ease in their catio. Beds offer a cosy spot for cats to curl up and rest after an afternoon of playtime.
Always put the cat bed inside the undercover, house section of the catio. Leaving it out in the open run section could result in it getting excessively dirty or rained on. And then your cat won’t want to use it anymore!
Owners who are set on putting a bed in the sun for their cat should consider canvas trampoline beds. They dry quickly and wipe down easily if they get dirty.
Having a scratching post in your cat enclosure will keep your pet entertained and active.
A scratching post provides the perfect opportunity for cats to exercise their claws, flex their muscles, and mark their territory—all important biological needs. Plus, it can help steer them away from areas you want to be off-limits, such as scratching up their bed.
Look for a scratching post that features sisal rope, long poles, soft platforms, and additional fun features – bells, pom poms, caves, hammocks, etc.
Be aware that most cat scratchers are designed for undercover use only. They have thick cardboard inside the poles that won’t last long in the rain.
Catios should not only offer protection and security, but also provide stimulating activities for your kitty, increasing mental stimulation and providing essential enrichment opportunities.
Read on for some of the best catios currently on the market:
Castle Cat Enclosure
The brand new Castle catio provides the perfect place for cats to lounge, nap and play in peace.
This spacious enclosure features plenty of room for up to 3 furry friends to move around and explore comfortably.
STACEY CAT ENCLOSURE
For cat owners looking to give their kitty a safe yet exciting place to play outside, the Stacey catio is a great option.
The Stacey run is over 2 metres tall and uses the space well with 3 shelves for climbing and observing their kingdom from up high.
Stacey is recommended for two cats.
Greta Cat Enclosure
The Greta is the ultimate outdoor catio for your yard.
The long cat run allows your feline friend to enjoy the fresh air and sunny spots, while also featuring 4 platforms to jump up high.
Cats will love being safely enclosed in the house area, with 3 levels to rest on.
How Much Does an Average Catio Cost?
The price of a catio will depend on size, features and quality of materials.
The cheapest and least stressful option is to buy a flatpack catio kit from a reputable company. This will require minimal skill and you will only need a drill or battery powered screwdriver for assembly.
Catio kits usually cost between $400 – $2,000. The larger you go, the more it will cost.
Another option is to build a DIY catio from scratch. This is time consuming and will require more skill to complete. You will need to be able to read or create catio plans. You will also require more tools.
DIY can be very expensive, usually costing around $4,000 to buy new wood and materials. If you need to hire a handy person to assist, that can add on around $60 per hour.
The main benefit of a DIY catio enclosures is that they can be custom made to suit your space or garden.
If you cannot find a flatpack catio kit to suit your space, that is when you will need to decide if DIY is the best option for you.
Are Cat Enclosures Worth It For an Indoor Cat?
If you have an inside cat that stays in your house full time, you might wonder – why should I bother get a catio?
A catio allows your cat time outside in nature without you having to worry about them wandering off.
Being outside in the sunlight is amazing for your cat’s health and happiness. Cats love sitting outside and climbing up high where they can watch the world – spying on birds and native wildlife in your garden, and taking in new smells.
Can you Leave a Cat in a Catio?
Some people will have their cat live inside a catio full time. Most cats are happy like this as long as it is large enough with lots of floor space and height to climb. You don’t want your cat feeling cramped or uncomfortable!
This is a popular option for people with cat allergies, apartment dwellers, renters who aren’t allowed pets inside, cats who don’t get along with other pets inside the house, or cats suffering from incontinence.
Alternatively, other people will have their cats live indoors but then give them a few hours outside each day in the catio. This helps their cats get sunshine, fresh air and some mental stimulation. They can watch birds go by and smell your garden’s cat safe plants.