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Are Catios Safe for Cats?
If you’re a cat lover, you’ve probably heard of catios, which are enclosed spaces that allow cats to enjoy the outdoors without being in danger. They have become increasingly popular in recent years as more kitty owners seek ways to provide their cats with outdoor access. But are catios safe for cats? Let’s look at the pros and cons of catios and discuss whether they are a good option for your feline friends.
What is a catio?
A catio is a carefully structured outdoor enclosure that provides felines with a safe and entertaining outdoor environment. They can be made out of wood, wire mesh, or other materials. These materials offer protection against the elements while allowing your furry friend some freedom to play in her own space. Whether it’s a small, homemade enclosure or one that is professionally built and designed for the ultimate in luxury living, there are many different types of catios.
The ideal location for a catio should be attached directly to your house or through an enclosed walkway so you — and your cat — can easily enter and exit the space. There are a variety of enclosures available for purchase or to build yourself. It’s easy to find the supplies needed for a catio frame and catio fencing online.
How does a catio benefit a cat?
It’s hard for many cat owners to let their indoor cats safely enjoy the outdoors. Still, it’s essential because the environment provides them with fresh air and freedom. However, there are significant risks to letting your cat roam outside. They can easily be hit or run over by vehicles or get into fights with other cats, leading to infections and injuries. They may be attacked by other animals, such as dogs, coyotes, or other predators. That’s where well-built catio spaces can let keep felines safe while allowing them to roam outdoor cat enclosures.
Catios are the perfect solution for pet owners looking to give their feline friends an outdoor space without sacrificing safety. Kitties can enjoy exploring and playing while getting some needed excitement and exercise. The enclosed space and large amounts of natural light provide a stimulating environment that is good both physically and mentally. Still, most importantly, it provides an escape from boring daily routines, something every feline needs.
A British study led by two veterinarians found that of 400 cats surveyed in catios, both outdoor and indoor cats showed improved health. The patients had lower rates of stress and did not seem as bored. Thus, an enclosure is a safe place for your furry friends that allows them the freedom of movement they need for as long as they want while still being on the property.
The benefits of an indoor catio cannot be overstated. It is the perfect place for your kitty to play without worrying about her safety. It will provide her with hours of enrichment and entertainment. You’ll also be doing your part as an animal lover to protect birds and keep other wildlife safe from the outdoor felines hunting and killing them.
What are the dangers of catios?
While there are many pluses to letting your kitty spend time outside in a catio, there are some potential concerns. Never build or place a catio in full sunlight, as there is always the risk of sunburn and skin cancer for your cat.
Catio fencing or chicken wire won’t stop insects. Mosquitoes can still bite, which potentially exposes a cat to heartworm disease or an allergic reaction. Your kitty may encounter parasites, like fleas or heartworm. The risk of respiratory infections spreading from neighborhood or feral cats through the catio wire is possible. Rainy and cold days bring the threat of hypothermia.
There are simple steps to eliminate all of these threats reasonably quickly. For mosquitos, avoid using the catio when these bugs are most active: at sunrise and sunset. Put your cat on an effective parasite preventative medication to prevent fleas, intestinal worms, ticks, and heartworm. With sun concerns, make sure there is adequate shade in the catio and don’t put your cat in the enclosure during peak sun and heat periods.
The most significant potential danger with a catio is if it is constructed incorrectly or poorly. Gaps in a shabby, poorly built catio may allow cats to escape. Some pet parents mistakenly assume that walls will keep their cats safe inside the outdoor cat enclosure, but this isn’t always true. Cats can be professional escape artists, so you need a fully enclosed catio and a roof made of solid fencing material or a similarly durable product.
A catio is only dangerous if it is not built well. Purchase a premade catio, hire a person with the carpentry skills for building catios, or follow the directions for a DIY catio that is constructed well. Your feline will enjoy her new outdoor safe haven.
What catio types are best for your cat?
Freestanding catio spaces
Freestanding spaces are a great way to provide your cats with plenty of exercise and fresh air. You can create the perfect size for your cat and home by using prefabricated materials or building one yourself. There are even DIY catios plans and an IKEA hack to make a catio from bookshelves!
Window catio spaces
There is nothing better than a small window catio unit for cat owners looking to give their feline friends an outdoor space of their own. This structure allows cats to explore just a few feet outside in a safely enclosed area without the risk of falling. Even as a smaller catio, a window unit still provides cats with plenty of entertainment and enrichment.
Portable catio spaces
There are many ways to keep your cat safely contained while still enjoying the outdoors. For example, try a portable play center to give your cat the outdoor enrichment she needs. You can purchase screens for baby playpens or use specially-designed cat tents. Try to set up mobile kitty containment systems like the Kitty Walk, or use soft-sided crates that provide a quick way of enjoying nature with your feline companions.
Porch catio spaces
A screened-in porch or patio is the perfect place to create a catio. Make sure that there are secure exits, and provide your furry friend with some cat trees or other elevated perches so they can watch what’s going on outside.
Make sure you always provide fresh water in a water bowl for all catios. Don’t forget to toss in some toys and areas for climbing for frequent stimulation. Use a sturdy floor and a solid roof to make this place a safe space.
Keep your cat safe with a catio and pet insurance.
The best way to give your favorite feline friend the life in the great outdoors they deserve while remaining safe in their own home is with a catio. There are so many options available that it’s hard not finding one for any budget or type of house.
Even in the safest environments, cats can get into trouble and suffer injuries. Purchase a pet insurance policy to cover your cat’s unexpected medical care, treatment, and veterinarian bills. At Pet Insurance Review, we find you the best insurance quotes from the top providers in the country. Get your cat’s free quote today!
- Chomos, C. (2019). Are Catios Coyote-Safe? Retrieved from https://catiospaces.com/catios-cat-enclosures/free-tips/are-catios-coyote-safe/
- Pet Medical Center. (2020). Cat Physical and Mental Stimulation. Retrieved from https://pmcofedmond.com/pet-education/kitten-cat-wellness-care/cat-physical-and-mental-stimulation/
- Owens, R. (2021). Lincoln Study Develops ‘Feline Welfare Score’: How Happy Is Your Feline? Retrieved from https://pmcofedmond.com/pet-education/kitten-cat-wellness-care/cat-physical-and-mental-stimulation/
- Sommer, L. (2020). The Killer At Home: House Cats Have More Impact On Local Wildlife Than Wild Predators. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2020/04/18/820953617/the-killer-at-home-house-cats-have-more-impact-on-local-wildlife-than-wild-preda
- Ovidiu. (2020). Free Catio Plans. Retrieved from https://myoutdoorplans.com/animals/free-catio-plans/
- Sprouse, T. (n.d.). How To Turn An IKEA Shelf Into A Catio. Retrieved from https://www.cuteness.com/13558989/how-to-turn-an-ikea-shelf-into-a-catio
- KittyWalk. (2013). KittyWalk Systems. Retrieved from https://kittywalk.com/
The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.
The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.
We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.