If you’re reading this page, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the idea of catios or cat enclosures from somewhere, and you’re wanting to find out a bit more about them.
Well, you’re in the right place!
This page will tell you all about what a catio is, the different types of catios
What Is a Catio?
A catio is a patio for cats – an outdoor cat enclosure where cats can enjoy fresh air and mental stimulation while staying healthy and safe.
A catio can be as small and simple as a cat window box or cat balcony enclosure, or as large and elaborate as an entire backyard outdoor cat playpen.
Fun Fact: a catio can also be called an outdoor cat run, cat window perch, cattery, catitorium, catico, cat gazebo, or cat solarium.
Catio cat enclosures are growing in popularity as a safe solution for allowing indoor cats the opportunity to explore the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors without (usually) ever actually stepping foot outside.
Read more about the Top 20 Benefits Of A Catio.
What Are The Different Types Of Catios?
Catios are not one-size-fits-all. Depending on your current living space, a catio can be any size – from just big enough for one kitty, to large outdoor cat enclosures that serve as playgrounds for multiple feline friends.
Below is a list of many of the different catio options, as well as their benefits.
Ideal for apartments and other small homes, window box catios are three-sided structures that attach to an existing window.
Anyone with a window can have a catio! The window box catio is a good choice for single-cat homes and for owners just beginning to dip their toes into the world of catio living.
Learn more about window box catios.
Existing balconies on a home or apartment can easily be transformed into an outdoor cat oasis, and the enclosed balcony catio is ideal for people who would like a shared outdoor space with their feline companions.
Because balconies are usually on a second story or higher, you will want to make sure your catio space is 100% escape-proof before introducing your cat to the area.
Learn more about balcony catios.
Fully screened-in porches are undoubtedly the easiest way to create a catio, as the only thing you need to do it add the cats!
Unscreened and partially-screened porches are also great options for creating your catio. With a little fine tuning, a completely enclosed space can be made for your cat to enjoy.
Learn more about porch catios.
Outdoor Cat Runs
Outdoor cat runs strongly resemble chicken coops. They are usually large, independent structures that are not necessarily attached to your home.
Cat runs can be as simple as an outdoor pen, and as complicated as an outdoor kitty maze.
Most of the pre-made cat run structures on the market include both a climbing structure for exercise and a small shelter where the cat can hide from the elements.
When considering an outdoor cat run, it’s important to remember that you will need a way to transport the cat from the run to the house in a safe manner.
Learn more about outdoor cat runs.
For cat owners who aren’t sure about building a permanent structure and those who are traveling with their cats, portable catios are a reasonable option.
Most portable catios resemble mesh pop-up tents or soft-sided infant playpens.
The benefit of having a portable catio is that you can comfortably move it to meet your needs.
Portable catios are also ideal for using indoors to keep your cats safe and out of the way while entertaining guests or doing housework like painting or cleaning.
Learn more about portable catios.
Outdoor Cat Tunnel
Catio tunnels are screened in tunnels that allow a cat to travel from point A to point B within your yard.
Many catio tunnels connect to a window within your home and travel across an area to a larger outdoor cat run. Catio tunnels create a safe way for your cat to travel to and from their catio as they please.
Learn more about outdoor cat tunnels.
For the cat owner that isn’t ready to create a space just for their feline but still wants to let their cat outdoors, cat fencing is an option.
Cat fencing is usually curved into the yard at the top, deeming it “cat-proof.”
Learn more about cat fencing.
What Are Catios Made Out Of?
Catios are either pre-constructed or made from supplies that are readily available at your local home improvement store.
When building your own catio space, there are some considerations to make regarding materials used:
Because catio spaces are outdoors, they need to be made to stand up to the elements of both sun and rain.
For that reason, it is recommended that pressure-treated nontoxic lumber be used to construct your catio.
Using a high-quality lumber will ensure that your catio will stay durable for a long time to come.
Catio screening is made from a material that your local home improvement store would refer to as hardware cloth, even though most of the varieties are not made from any sort of cloth at all.
There are many different variations are hardware cloth that would all fall into of the following categories: window grade, mid-grade, and heavy-duty.
The window grade screen is typical of what you would find on a regular window screen. It would be good for keeping mosquitos and ticks away from your pets, however, it is less likely to stand up to cat claws than the other two type of screening.
A mid-grade option for catio screening would be what most people refer to as chicken wire. Chicken wire has larger openings than a typical screen and is extremely bendable.
A heavy-duty option would be a galvanized metal hardware cloth. All screening can usually be placed with an industrial staple gun.
Many pre-made catio structures are made of long-lasting metal. (Think of a hamster cage on a much grander scale!)
PVC Pipe Catios
For the thrifty catio builder, PVC pipes make an excellent building resource. Like Tinker-Toys for adults, PVC piping comes in a variety of different sizes and configurations for building, and many plans can be found online.
How Much Do Catios Cost?
A thrifty cat owner can possibly make a catio for free from what they already have and recycled materials, whereas if you’d like a completely television-show worthy catio you could be looking at upwards of $5,000 or more, depending on your tastes.
When it comes to acquiring a catio space for your home, there are basically four options (least expensive to most expensive):
1) DIY your own custom catio
If you have time on your hands, are handy with a hammer, and would like to save some money, then a custom home-made DIY catio may be the right option for you.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to designing and building your custom cat paradise.
Average price range $0 – $1000.
2) Purchase DIY Catio Plans
Still a somewhat custom-plan for your catio could include purchasing plans.
Many catio builders have tried and true plans that they are willing to share with other cat lovers and can be found with a simple Google search, or you can buy a range of odetailed catio plans from Catio Spaces.
This is the perfect solution for a handyman who doesn’t want to do his own design. And if you’d rather not do the heavy work, a professional can be hired to install your piece for you.
Average price range $50 – $150 for plans + $100 – $1000 for materials
3) Purchase A Pre-made Catio Kit
If you don’t want the hassle of making one yourself or are looking for a quick and affordable solution, then a pre-made catio kit may be best for you.
They come in a range of different sizes and designs to suit most spaces and can be put together by most people with even the most basic diy skills.
Average price range $50 – $500
4) Hire A Custom Catio Maker
A skilled carpenter can bring your catio vision to life with a custom design, and there are carpenters out there today that specialize in creating home catio spaces.
Depending on the size of your project, the price of your new catio could cost you about as much as the construction of a new shed or a small room add-on. The benefit of hiring a custom catio maker is that the design can usually be made to look seamless with the rest of your home.
Average price range $1,000 – $3,000+
Where Can I Buy a Catio?
There are many places you can buy a catio from, and the bets choice for you will depend on the type of catio you want to buy.
However, broadly speaking, your options are as follows:
- Catio Kits: off the shelf pre-made kits
- Custom made catios: made to order to your specification
You can find more info on both these options, the best places to buy catios and our favorite off the shelf kits over on our Catio Kits & Cat Enclosure Kits page.
I Want to Build My Own DIY Catio – How Do I Get Started?
First up, check out our guide to building your own DIY catio.
When creating your perfect catio space, there are a few important items to consider:
Location and Size
Possibly the hardest part of the catio building process is decided where your catio will be located and how big it will be.
If considering a space that is viewable from the street, you will want to make sure that local ordinances and/or your home owner’s association allows for such structures.
How Often Will Your Catio Be Used?
If your catio will be used daily, you will want to make sure that you build a catio that is suitable for all-day enjoyment.
This would include both a sunny and shady area. If the catio will not be easily accessible from the house for your cat, you will also need to allow room for a litter box and food/water.
How Will The Catio Be Accessed By A Human?
Even if you don’t intend to have a shared space with your feline friend, you must consider how you will access the catio for cleaning and in the event of an emergency.
Leaves, debris, and cat fur can all accumulate over time and you will want to make sure that you have enough room to access all areas for your catio for proper care. Learn more at DIY Catio – Prep Guide (link to new article).
Read more about DIY Catios and Free DIY Catio Plans, including how-to’s and step-by-step instructions.
Outdoor Cat Furniture & Decoration
Tips to Decorate and Furnish a Catio
When it comes to outfitting your catio space, it’s best to think from your feline’s point of view, and what would keep them entertained and enjoying the space.
You will want to consider using only outdoor fabrics and making sure that any litter box is in a covered area protected from rain.
When furnishing your catio, less is more. Check out our guide to outdoor cat furniture for more on this.
Try to make the catio as natural as possible to help stimulate your feline’s outdoor adventure. Many experts recommend using natural materials throughout the catio.
One way to incorporate this is to include cat grass in your enclosure. Cat grass can be grown in a shallow plastic tub and will serve as both a cozy spot to nap and a safe snack for your cat.
Other natural elements could include woodchips, stones, old tree branches, and cat-safe plants.
It’s extremely important when adding plants to your catio space to ensure that the plants you have selected are nontoxic to cats.
Cats are natural explorers, and unfortunately many common houseplants can make them ill.
Some favorite, nontoxic house plants to consider using in your catio are Palms, Boston Ferns, African Violets, Spider Plants and Hibiscuses.
If you are ever unsure about the toxicity of a particular plant, it is best to talk directly with your veterinarian.
How often do you anticipate your cat using your catio space will determine how many amenities you should include inside of it.
Some people want their catio to be used solely for exercise and stimulation, so they would prefer not to have any cozy napping areas present and would opt instead for climbing structures and scratching posts.
Other cat owners anticipate that their felines will be in the catio for most of the day.
These catios would include items like kitty hammocks, lounge beds, and dedicated areas for litter boxes and food/water, in addition to the climbing structures and scratching posts.
Other items to consider for your catio décor include cat toys that can be hung from the structure for your cat to bat at and carpet that you wouldn’t mind being scratched on.
A cat has a natural inclination to use their claws to scratch and giving them a safe space to do so (away from your furniture!) is extremely beneficial to their health.
Some flooring companies will even offer you old carpet samples for free if you ask, which would make for a cost-effective solution to outfitting your catio.
If you plan on sharing your catio space with your cat, make sure that you consider what would make the area a retreat for you as well.
A comfortable chair and small table for your drink or book can easily make the area one that you can enjoy together.
One final consideration for decorating your catio space is to reflect the area near the catio.
Engage your cat with the great outdoors by placing a bird feeder or bird bath a safe distance away from the catio.
Catios can be a wonderful home addition for any cat owner.
There are many options available in a variety of different styles and prices, making catios obtainable for even those with the smallest spaces.
With the safety of a structured catio, our feline friends can now enjoy the outdoors in a way that will protect them and the wildlife around them, not to mention safely control the number of animals that are roaming freely in your area.
The benefits of having a catio will keep kitty and owner happy for many years to come.
Learn more about outdoor cat furniture and catio decorating ideas.
· What Is A Catio?
Short for cat patio, a catio is an enclosed outdoor space for your feline friend to enjoy the outdoor life without being exposed to any danger.
Depending on the size, a catio may just provide a small space where your cat can sit (and may also roam around a bit) and enjoy fresh air or fulfill many of its natural instincts, such as jumping and playing.
· Why Do I Need A Catio?
Apart from fulfilling most cats’ natural desire to experience outdoor life, catios provide stimulations that keep your feline friends both physically and mentally active.
This not only helps prevent cats from getting bored or stressed, but also improves their overall health. Several research studies have found that cats restricted from outdoor access often develop behavioral and medical issues.
Another reason that many cat parents are investing in catios is that they allow cats to enjoy fresh air and sunlight and satisfy their need for play and adventure without exposing them to potential dangers, such as from predators and traffic.
· Can I Have A Small Catio?
Let’s get one thing straight, you don’t necessarily need a large space to build a catio. You can build a space for your pet cat even if you live in a studio apartment.
While bigger cat enclosures are better as they provide more room to cats, not having a large area for building a catio doesn’t mean your kitty has to be restricted to the indoors only.
From windows and balconies to patios, decks, and backyards, catios can be built anywhere; the basic purpose is to give your pet cat easy and safe access to an outdoor space.
· What Is The Best Type of Catio For My Cat?
When it comes to catios, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It mainly depends on the available space and to some extent, the needs of your cat. For example, if your cat is super active and likes to jump around and play and you also have adequate space in your home, an outdoor cat run is ideal.
But, whether you need a simple cat playpen or a complex cat maze, depends on the needs of your cat.
· What Is A Catio Made Of?
The structure of a catio can be made of wood, metal, or PVC pipes, whereas the roof and screen can be made with wire mesh, galvanized wire, or clear polycarbonate. For the floor, cat parents can choose from grass, pavers, decking, and many other flooring options.
In short, there are multiple options available for each component of a catio or an outdoor cat enclosure.
Conclusion: A Catio Will Be a Wonderful Addition to Your Home
By providing a safe space for their feline friends to enjoy the outdoor life, catios have resolved an age-old problem of cat owners.
And their availability in a number of materials, styles, and price range have made them accessible to every owner.
Regardless of the type of catio you install in your house, rest assured, it will give you peace of mind and guarantee your kitty’s health and happiness. In a nutshell, it will be a home addition that you will never regret.