Kitty Heaven: Catios for Beginners


(image: Becca Rodomsky-Bish )

Cats are animals and deserve to go outdoors, but birds deserve to be safe too. With “catios,” everyone wins! What is a catio? Well…


A trend has been gaining for a decade that has cats purring with delight. The “catio” is the upscale kitty-cat’s outdoor haven.

These enclosed outdoor spaces for cats are giving kitties a whole new way to enjoy life, all while protecting birds and other critters. These spaces take things up a notch for folks who love to dote on their “fur-kids”.

Me, I’ll confess, I’m a dog person who doesn’t have any pets. My best friend, though, is just nuts about his cat. I’ve been there “cat-sitting” when he’s been away on holidays and phoned in to cat-talk his kitty over his answering machine.

And he’s not alone! If all cats vanished tomorrow, the internet would implode. No kitty videos! Gah! What to do!

And the internet, of course, is how “catios” are becoming an even bigger thing.

What’s a catio?

Catios should have open-air cages because it’s all about letting the cat get out in the elements. Whether they’re just a long thing space that lets them walk back and forth or it’s a giant enclosure that gives them an outdoor romping room, it’s about letting them see the world around ‘em without a window cutting off half the experience — fresh air and natural smells.

Perches, ramps, cat-friendly plants, scratching posts, sticks, strings, and playthings are all ideal to have in these spaces. Think of it as a kitty-cat getaway just outside your home.

Here are some styles of catios to consider.

catio 2

(image: DMI Wench)

The window box catio

Pandacat and every other feline out there is fond of sitting on windowsills and staring out at the world. All those birdies flying by! That must make ’em feel like I do when I pass the chocolate aisle at the store.

Still, the window box is a fantastic way of giving cats the equivalent of a sunroom. Catiospaces offers a custom-built “window box veranda” that’s not huge, but gives kitty a spot to prowl and pace in an open-air cage mounted along the base of your window.

Large window enclosures

Another Catiospaces design has a multi-level “Garden Window Condo” that allows your fave feline to bounce around separate levels while keeping an eye on the neighborhood. What kitty doesn’t love a great perch with which to judge and scrutinize the silly humans and birdies?

Freestanding structures

These are pretty popular and come in all kinds of sizes. If they’re not adjacent to the house, they’re more of a chore to get kitty out there and back in again, but they won’t involve drilling into your siding or anything like that either.

All kinds of freestanding catios are out there, and so are plans for making your own. Catiospaces has several different models you can buy plans for at $49.95 each. Considering some of the enclosures I’m looking at go up to $3,000, that sounds like a good deal.

Some of the freestanding sanctuaries I’ve been finding have chairs in them so the owner can go hang out with blissed-out kitty, so the big spaces can also be a neat sanctuary for kitty’s human to play in as well. Pretty snazzy.

Custom designs

This Zillow blog has an incredible custom-designed catio that includes an enclosed ramp leading down from the second floor under the canopy of a huge tree and across the yard to a giant enclosed space. This is officially the most spoiled cat in America. Step aside, Morris The Cat.

Giving cats nature while protecting birds

Cats are the number one cause of death for birds worldwide. They’re dying in the billions yearly in America alone, so the idea of a nice enclosed space for cats to enjoy makes me happy. They’re animals, they deserve to get outside, but not at the cost of birdies. This way, everyone wins.

If you’ve got the time, means, and space to give Chairman Meow a catio of his own, you might enjoy Meow’s meanderings as he does.

Have you gotten all kitty-doting-crazy and made a great outdoor space for your cat? Tell us about it.

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