Introduction: What is a catio

A catio is simply a patio for cats. It’s like an outdoor balcony, grass or paved area which is specifically designed with cat safety and happiness in mind. Whilst the concept of UK catios is quite new, catios are much more widely used in the US.

The term “Catio” was coined by a veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Ellis, back in 1999 to describe the area that she had set up to keep her own cat safe and happy while she was away at work all day.

Catios are great for cats, people and other animals

Whilst traditionally cats have been outdoor pets, with the rise in accidents involving cars, other animals and other dangers such as anti-freeze, more and more cat owners are turning to the house cat option. There are also those who want cats to be kept inside to prevent attacks on local wildlife such as birds or mice.

When cats are house cats, it can cause issues with getting fresh air in to the house for the owners, as a door or window left open can seem like a perfect opportunity for an escapee cat to go on an adventure.

When I purchased my house, I ensured that it was cat proof – adding in an additional stud wall and door in to my hallway to prevent escapes. Since then, my house has been pretty much locked up at all times, with windows opening minimally to prevent escapes. Having spent a year working from home, I realised that actually, having some fresh air in the house would be nice, and I set about investigating getting a catio. I’d always dismissed the idea, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it was a great idea, for me, and the cats. Having an outdoor cat enclosure doesn’t necessarily mean you are a crazy cat person, you might just be someone who wants more air in their home, or wants some additional space for the feline family members. Either way, whatever your reasons, I am quite sure you won’t regret getting one!

My catio on completion day

Catios for the health and safety of your cats

Cats are curious creatures and they often find themselves in dangerous situations. It is the responsibility of a cat owner to protect their pet, and the best way to do that is by investing in a catio. Catios allow cats to explore, climb, hunt, play and exercise without the risk of injury or death. Catios come in many different shapes and sizes, so you can choose one that will work for your home’s outdoor environment.

The benefits of a catio are huge- they provide cats with mental stimulation, help combat obesity by encouraging cats to play more often than they would indoors (which also provides you with some peace of mind), and offer a way for your pets to spend quality time outdoors without the worry of predators and other dangers they might encounter.

Having a catio gives you extra space for your cats, and since the photo above was taken, I have installed some additional shelves and platforms which they are loving.

Catio Considerations

There are many considerations to take into account when choosing the best catio for your space. Purchasing a catio can be as simple as going online and ordering the perfect size and colour, but there are many factors that should be considered before making a purchase to ensure you have a successful experience. This guide will outline what questions to ask yourself before buying a catio, what materials are best for your catio, how to start building your own, and more.

How much space do I have available?

Only you can answer this question, as every home and cat owner will be different. I chose a space which would allow me to have my French doors to the garden open, plus some additional space. Not long before I got the catio, I had my garden made over, and this made my space more usable and I was able to choose a larger catio. I also needed to factor in the space required for an “airlock” as an additional safety measure in my catio. Getting an “airlock” is down to personal choice, however when I had my catio installed, he said that the amount of people who don’t have one and later come to regret it is high. They give you an extra layer of protection from your cat’s play space and the outside world. It may cost you a bit extra, but in my opinion, the peace of mind is definitely worth it! It will mean my outside space is a lot more usable whilst the cats are in the catio, and I don’t have to go out of the front of the house and round the side as I have been doing.

What type of materials is my house made of?

Catios are usually made of wood with metal wire mesh, or entirely in metal. What you use will depend on your budget, as well as the size and structure of your desired catio.

The majority of catios that I investigated were a wood frame, covered in mesh. Depending on where you live and what kind of property you have may impact the choices you have available. You may even consider a metal catio or cage.

What is my catio budget?

Again, this is a very personal decision. I would recommend you shop around, and get many quotes before making any decision. I could have gotten a catio cheaper elsewhere, but the lead time was much longer, and the company I chose had excellent recommendations. Choose the best and safest materials you can afford within your budget and you shouldn’t be disappointed.

When do I want my catio in use?

I wanted my catio to be usable as soon as my garden was completed. Once I had dates for the garden work I confirmed with the catio contractor the lead time and placed an order for delivery the week after my garden was due to be finished. In the warmer months, I will be having the back doors open whenever I am home. In the cooler months I will not want to leave the doors open all the time. I therefore need to decide whether the catio will only be in use in the warmer months, or whether I will need to arrange access to it by having a cat flap installed. This is another cost to consider. You also need to consider if you want the cats to be able to access it overnight or if you are away, so you might need a lockable cat flap for example.

Do I want a DIY project or an easy installation?

If you are a practical person who enjoys DIY and flat pack, then you could absolutely get a kit, or even design and build it yourself. If, like me, the thought of using a drill and making something so large is scary, then get someone who will make and install your catio.

Saying that, once the catio was built, I did buy some wood and some tools and put in some new shelves and platforms myself. This might not sound like a big achievement, but for me it really is!Introd

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