It’s no secret that cats love to go outdoors. Although they have been domesticated for a very long time, cats still have some of the wild instincts that make them want to roam around freely and satisfy their natural desires of exploring and hunting.
They also enjoy fresh air and sunlight and if there’s nothing else for them to do, they can entertain themselves for hours by simply watching birds. However, in many cases, it is a continuous struggle between cats, who want to go outside, and their human parents, who try to keep them indoors because they are concerned about their pet’s safety. This is where outdoor cat enclosures come in!
What are Outdoor Cat Enclosures?
Outdoor cat enclosures, also known as cat patios or catios, are enclosed outdoor structures that have been specifically designed to resolve the indoor/outdoor dilemma most cat owners face. They are safe and secure spaces that give cats the freedom to experience outdoor life without facing any potential risk of being attacked, stolen, lost, or struck by a vehicle. Catios can be built or set up in different areas of your house in different sizes and styles according to the availability of space and one’s needs.
Simply put, there are many different types of catios – small or large, simple or fancy – attached to the house or free-standing. You can see some amazing examples of outdoor cat enclosures over at Habitat Haven:
Habitat Haven make a wide range of high quality pre-designed catio kits. They have smaller models like The Room With A View that can attach to a window or balcony, and larger options like The Great Escape which is surely a cat's dream den!
Types of Outdoor Cat Enclosures?
Considering the fact that people can have certain limitations, such as that of space or budget, construction and design experts came up with different styles and sizes of catios to make them viable for all cat owners.
Window Outdoor Cat Enclosure
Window Box Enclosures or Window Catios are a great option for outdoor cats that are an enclosure that attaches to the side of your house. These enclosures can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, wire, and plastic. They typically have a roof to protect the cats from the elements and some include a covered area where the cats can hide.
Side-of-house enclosures are a good choice if you have a lot of land and want to give your cats some extra space to roam. However, they can be more expensive than other types of enclosures and may require more maintenance.
Balcony Outdoor Cat Enclosure
If you live in an apartment or condo and want to give your cat some outdoor time, a balcony cat enclosure is a great option. They’re typically made of sturdy metal or plastic mesh and are attached to the railing of a balcony. This type of enclosure is a good way to keep your cat safe while still providing some fresh air and sunshine.
Apartment living doesn’t have to mean kitty confinement! There are options for giving your cat some outdoor time while keeping them safe. A balcony cat enclosure is a great way to do this. These enclosures are typically made of strong metal or plastic mesh and can be attached to the railing of your balcony. This way, your cat can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine while staying safe.
While these are major types of catios, they can also be custom-built catios according to your specific needs. Custom catios generally cost a lot more as they involve a design and custom manufacturing process, but there are also some high quality off the shelf cat enclosures out there, like the ones made by Habitat haven.
If you’re looking for the cheapest option, then buying a pre-made catio kit from Amazon may be more suitable. There are some nice budget designs out there – check out this for example:
- LARGE CAT HOUSE: perfect for one, or multiple cats to play or lounge and relax in.
- MULTI-TIER MAIN HOUSE: The multi-tier cat house includes a window, sliding door, a small hinged door, and a ramp to help for easy access into the house.
- DURABLE WOOD AND WIRE ENCLOSURE: made around a solid fir frame that is sealed with pet-friendly sealant and enclosed with strong metal wire.
- WEATHERPROOF DESIGN: The flat roof of this feline enclosure is covered with asphalt for enhanced weather protection against both sun and rain
- OVERSIZED CONVENIENT DOOR: Large front door, with latches, creates an easy access point to put your cat into and pull your cat out
Is It Worth Having an Outdoor Cat Enclosure?
Despite the fact that catios have been enjoying widespread popularity, many cat owners (mostly the new ones) aren’t sure if they should really invest in building or buying one. In short, yes! If you have a pet cat, you should have a catio too; the benefits it provides make it worth having.
Here are some major reasons why so many cat parents are investing in catios (see also our article Top 20 Catio Benefits):
- They give cats the opportunity to experience nature in a protected environment.
- By eliminating the risks of cat accidents, catios also give owners peace of mind that their feline companions are safe.
- They provide environmental enrichment, which is critical to a cat’s mental and physical health (check out our post on environmental enrichment to find out how it helps keep your cat healthy and happy).
- Outdoor cat enclosures are equipped with multiple features and toys that keep cats busy and active. They also help satisfy their natural desire for a little adventure by allowing cats to play, climb, jump, run around, and explore.
- Since cats also have an intrinsic desire to chase and hunt, allowing them to roam freely outdoors may put the birds and small animals in your backyard in danger. A cat run makes sure that your feline friend does not cause any harm to any bird or animal.
- By keeping your pet safe and secure, a catio also helps reduce vet bills and the risk for stress cats often suffer from after facing a dangerous situation or getting injured.
In addition to all these benefits, cat enclosures also help promote good relationships and/or reduce issues between cats in multi-cat households. While cats do love to play and at times, they don’t mind sharing their space, they are solitary and territorial by nature. This means they want their own time and space too, which can sometimes create issues in multi-cat households. Cat enclosures cater to both sides of a cat’s personality. With toys and activities, they allow cats to play together when they don’t mind interacting. On the other hand, they decorating your catio with multiple platforms, cubbyholes, and hammocks, which allow cats to have their own spaces when they want to be alone or take a nap.
Things to Consider When Building or Buying an Outdoor Cat Enclosure
Whether you are buying a ready-made catio, getting one custom-made, or have decided to build it yourself, here are a few factors that need to be considered and decided at the first step:
The first and foremost thing you need to figure out when you decide to have a catio for your feline friend is that where in your house you are going to build/install it. While this largely depends on the availability of the space and a person’s choice, don’t forget the real purpose of getting a catio. You have decided to get a catio, so your pet can enjoy the wind, sunlight, views, and certain stimulating activities that keep it busy and entertained. Make sure the location you are selecting will ensure all this.
2) The Type and Size of the Outdoor Cat Enclosure
While in many cases, cat owners don’t have the liberty to choose the type and size of the enclosure as they only have a particular/ limited space available, a lot of cat owners can actually decide what kind of catio they want. For those cat parents, it is important to consider the personalities of their cats and what activities they enjoy the most to make sure they love the catio. Also, decide if you want the cat enclosure to be free-standing or you want it to be attached to your house via a door, window, tunnel, or through a cut in the wall.
3) What Type of Flooring Do You Want?
From grass and wood to paving slabs, there are multiple flooring options available for catios. If you are going for a large outdoor cat enclosure, you can incorporate a few different types of flooring, so your pet can enjoy different textures.
Catios can be built with a variety of materials, such as wood, PVC pipes, and different types of metals. The one you choose mainly depends on the kind of structure you want and your budget. If you buy a pre-made catio kit, you will mostly be choosing from either wooden or metal frame covered with metal or pvc wire mesh. With custom-made catios, you also have the liberty to use a combination of materials. For example, you can have the outside structure built with a metal and choose wood for the furnishings inside the catio. In addition to considering all these factors before buying or starting to build a catio, it is highly important that you ensure it is escape-proof as well as provides shade and shelter from sun and rain.
The Final Word
From improving and maintaining a cat’s health to ensuring its happiness and safety, there are plenty of good reasons why outdoor cat enclosures have become highly popular within a very short time. They are simply great for your feline buddy! Catios can be small and simple or large and luxurious. The one you choose to build for your feline friend mainly depends on two factors: availability of space and your budget.
No matter what type of a cat enclosure you choose to have, it will have a significant impact on your pet’s health and mood. Buy or build a cat enclosure for your cat, if you haven’t done it yet, and you will never regret it. Check out our favorite catio kits for sale or follow our DIY catio guide if you’re planning to build one for yourself.
With lots of room to take in all the amazing aspects of the outdoors, the Home Away from Home model is a simple yet feature-rich Catio enclosure your cat(s) will love! Granting them multiple areas to climb, lounge, and play while safely outdoors! With two full enclosures and two tunnels that you can use in any number of ways to create something amazing for your kitties!