Feline Preferences: Should You Build a Catio?

A cat sitting out by a netting

Just when you thought your cat couldn’t get any cuter, they roll over to show you their belly or scamper across the house just to greet you. 

Without a doubt, there are few things better than a happy cat. Cat owners are especially savvy at providing toys, treats, and activities to make their cat happy, but we don’t always hit the bull’s eye. And when it comes to voicing their likes and dislikes, many felines are, most certainly, effective communicators. 

If you have ever wondered if you should build a catio to make your feline extra content, we have a few tips to get started.

Why Build a Catio?

What is a catio? A fully enclosed outdoor area for indoor cats, a catio is essentially a cat patio. You can get really creative when designing and building, customizing your cat’s new pad with all sorts of bells and whistles.

There is a strong case for keeping your cat indoors at all times. They are protected from getting lost, hit by a car, or in fights with other animals. They aren’t exposed to contagious diseases, parasites, and accidental injury from falls. 

But while it is considered safer for their health and longevity, indoor-only cats can easily become bored, overweight or depressed. 

Best of Both Worlds

When you build a catio you are giving your cat the best of both worlds. They are safely contained inside their structure while being able to feel the breeze, soak up the sun, hunt for grasshoppers, and watch the birds. 

While they are protected from many eventualities that face wandering cats every day, your indoor-partially-outdoor cat should be fully vaccinated, up to date on their parasite prevention medication, wearing a collar with ID tags, and microchipped

How to Get Started On Your Catio

There are so many designs to choose from! You may want your cat to be able to hop out of a first floor window that feeds directly into their enclosure. Or you could build a larger catio in the middle of the yard that you carry your cat to every day. There are catios that are connected by enclosed bridges, those with lots of shade, and others that extend into tree branches. You are only limited by your imagination (and what your cat likes, of course!).

What to Remember

We recommend sturdy, non-toxic materials to build a catio that will last. Wood, metal, and certain plastics can create a strong frame.

It is important to consider flooring and roofing to keep your cat dry and protected from the sun. Your cat may appreciate a hiding place that is part of a climbing structure or sturdy shelf. There should be plenty of ventilation as the walls are typically made of chicken wire, fencing, or screens. 

Bonus Features!

When you build your catio you may want to furnish it with cat scratching posts, hanging feathers or balls, tunnels, potted cat grass or other non-toxic plants, hammocks, and more. Always provide clean, fresh water and a litter box to keep your cat purring all day long.

Nearby bird baths or bird feeders can stimulate hours of fun for your happy, engaged cat.

Happy Cat, Healthy Cat

If you have further questions about your cat’s health and happiness, our team at East Sacramento Veterinary Center is always here for you!