Auburn cat in a catio.

It is, paws down, safer to keep your cat indoors than allow them to roam the neighborhood, cross streets, and come into contact with other animals. In fact, a strictly indoor cat tends to have a longer lifespan than an indoor-outdoor cat because of the decreased risk of illness, injury, or death.

Despite the benefits to their safety and health, some indoor-only cats suffer from boredom and depression. A catio can provide exercise opportunities and enrichment activities that will make your indoor cat extra happy.

Pet Safety for Indoor Cats

A catio is an enclosed outdoor cat space that gives an indoor cat the best of both worlds. No longer confined behind glass windows, walls and doors, they can enjoy fresh breezes, sunlight, bird songs, and so much more through screens or fencing materials.

Beyond the Cardboard Box

Sure, there are lots of indoor-only cats that are purr-fectly happy to hop between their bed and yours. But if your feline begs to be let out, or intently watches the birds and squirrels through windows, a catio may be the next step.

Designing a Catio

Your cat’s enclosure can be any shape or size, and there are loads of DIY catio designs online to inspire you. Choose between safe, non-toxic materials, such as cedarwood, galvanized wire, and mesh screening. You can build a catio on a concrete slab, deck, or out on the lawn. Some cat owners build right off of a ground-floor window! 

If you build a large enclosure you can even hang out there with your cat. Place a comfy chair underneath some shade and watch your cat enjoy the great outdoors.

The bottom can be built with wood or open to whatever’s underneath. A concrete bottom can be improved with an outdoor rug or AstroTurf. A sturdy roof and/or UV protective sunshade are excellent options.

Extra Catio Elements

The sky’s the limit when it comes to your catio’s amenities. Your indoor cat may like any of these additions to their cool, new place:

  • Ramps, shelves, and high perches
  • Tunnels
  • Scratching posts
  • Hanging feathers or ball
  • Cat-safe plants
  • Super comfy bedding choices
  • Well-hidden litter box
  • Water feature they can drink out of
  • Cardboard boxes

If your catio is placed in an area that gets a lot of sun, be sure your cat has plenty of shade. Do not allow them to hang outside in their space if it’s too hot outside.

Thoughtful placement of bird feeders, birdbaths, butterfly houses, or pollen-heavy flowers provides great eye candy. Unless a bird or small animal enters your cat’s outdoor space, they will not be among the predatory felines that wreak havoc to birds and small animals. Instead, they will simply be able to observe them.

A Happy Indoor Cat

It might not be a good idea to leave your cat inside their catio or allow continuous access in your absence. Just because they are safely contained inside it doesn’t mean that predators or parasites cannot get in. As such, update your cat’s microchip, if necessary, and maintain their yearly parasite prevention.

If you have any questions about the health and happiness of your indoor cat, give us a call at (530) 823‑6306. Our veterinarians and staff members are always here for your cat at Bowman Veterinary Hospital.