Why you should build a catio for your cat - BC SPCA
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Why you should build a catio for your cat

March 28, 2024

It’s springtime. The weather is warming up and your cat is feeling more than a little frisky to get outside. You know your feline friend is longing for some fresh air and sunshine but you worry about their safety, as well as the safety of local wildlife. Thankfully, there’s a purrfect solution that’s both safe and secure for your cat so they can enjoy the great outdoors, and in style too.

Enter: the catio. A catio is a patio for cats, and is typically built just outside a door or a preferred window that your cats like to frequent. You can even get creative with your catio and build it according to your house and particular taste (or your kitty’s).

Wonder why you should consider building a catio for your cat? Learn the benefits below.

The top benefits for building a catio

  • Provides enrichment for our feline friends. Cats are designed to leap, balance on thin ledges, and climb everything and anything. A catio provides them the opportunity to tap into their inner ancestral forest hunters, while also giving them access to the ever changing sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors. Translation: they’ll never be bored!
  • Protects your cat from vehicles, unwanted diseases, other animal conflicts, potential poisoning, getting lost, and any other dangers that affect free-roaming cats.
  • Ensures local wildlife can safely enjoy their habitat. Outdoor cats can cause harm to birds and other animals. By keeping them in their catio, you’re giving the outdoor sights and sounds your cat loves by also protecting wildlife.
  • Decreases conflict between cats. If you have two cats or more, there can sometimes be unwanted conflict and stress. Catios provide additional space for your cats to reduce any fighting and other behaviour problems that can occur in the home.
  • Avoid neighbourhood conflicts. Not everyone loves your cat as much as you do. Catios can help avoid conflicts created when your cat chooses to use your neighbour’s vegetable garden as their outdoor litter box.
  • Help reduce community cat population. A female cat can have up to three litters per year. An unneutered cat can add to unwanted litters that are often left to fend for themselves after they are born.

Now that you know about the benefits of building a catio for your furry friend, you still might have a few questions. Below are some of the most common FAQs.

BC SPCA Catio tour

How do I transition an outdoor cat into a cat that lives indoors with access to a catio?

It’s important that a cat has the opportunity to express their innate behaviours when they are kept indoors. A catio is the perfect way to help transition an outdoor cat into the home as it provides the stimulation of an outdoor environment while protected.

How do I know if my cat would like a catio?

Catios are great for cats that are curious or playful. They can help cats to expend that unwanted energy by exploring their new space. Or perhaps they love basking in the sunshine on the windowsill, and a catio will allow them extra space to do just that.

If your cat is shy or timid, they can still enjoy a catio. You might want to consider including some hiding spots to help them feel safe, and anything else that they enjoy.

I have a senior cat, would they enjoy a catio? What about my new kitten?

Cats of any age can reap the benefits of a catio. Add items to the catio to fit the personality or life stage of your individual cat. For example, if you have a senior cat that has trouble with jumping, add ladders or ramps to help them explore their new space and perches that allow them to snooze in between taking in the sights.

If you have a kitten, ensure there aren’t any spaces or holes that they can’t squeeze into and potentially harm themselves or escape from the catio.

My cat is a bit skittish. Would they benefit from a catio?

Absolutely! Skittish cats may appreciate some tunnels for privacy. Curious cats would love hanging out on a high perch to take it all in. Cats on the curvier side may benefit from some “sneaky exercise” from bridges or walkways. Catios cater to all types of cats!

How long will it take for my cat to get used to a catio?

Every cat is unique, but cats typically take to catios in about 1-2 weeks. Providing toys, enrichment, a comfortable place to relax, and fresh water all help to pique your cat’s curiosity. If you have the space, place a human-sized chair or two inside your catio to enjoy your cat’s company!

When it comes to introducing your cat to their new space, it’s best to take your time, create one that is best for their temperament, and you will soon have a happily adjusted indoor cat who has the benefits of the great outdoors thanks to their very own catio.

Additional Resources

Learn how to build a catio

How to create an outdoor cat tunnel

Decor ideas for your catio

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