Have you wanted to give your cat freedom to roam outside, but worry about their safety and that of local wildlife? Try a catio! These enclosed structures, patios for cats, allow your cat to bask in the sunshine and get some fresh air, while protecting them (and local wildlife) from harm.
How do I build a catio?
Take a look at our DIY catio guides! With three different styles, you can find something that works for your individual space. DIY guides include transforming a window, patio, deck, or creating an entirely free standing structure into a kitty paradise.
- Have a window that your cat could climb through? Try the “DIY Window Catio (PDF)”
- Have a deck or porch that could be cat friendly? Try the “DIY Enclosed Porch Catio” (PDF)
- Don’t have a porch or window that is accessible? Not a problem! Try our “DIY Stand Alone Catio with Tunnel Access Option” (PDF). This version has a free-standing catio that has a tunnel to safely carry your furry friend to their new space.
- Already have a catio and looking to take it to the next level? Check out our “DIY Catio Enrichment” (PDF) for some additions your cat will love.
See catios in action!
If you live in the Vancouver area, you have an opportunity to come see seven beautiful catios, including the three that inspired these building guides, in action! Our Vancouver Catio Tour takes place on June 9th, 2019.
What are the main benefits of catios?
- Provide enrichment for our feline friends. While you are at work, your cat can have access to the ever changing sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors. Not only will a catio help avoid unwanted behaviour problems in your home, but it will leave you with a happier cat.
- Protect your cat from cars, unwanted diseases, other animal conflicts and other dangers that can affect free-roaming cats.
- Outdoor cats can cause harm to birds and other animals. By creating a catio you are helping to ensure local wildlife can safely enjoy their habitat.
- If you have two cats or more, there can sometimes be unwanted conflict and stress. Catios provide additional space for your cats to decrease conflicts 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 litterbox.
- Help reduce community cat population. A female cat can have up to three litters per year.
Frequently asked questions
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.
Take your time, follow these steps, and you will soon have a happily adjusted indoor cat with the benefits of the great outdoors in their catio.
How big are catios?
That is up to you! All of our DIY guides can be customized for your individual space.
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. If your cat is shy or timid, they can still enjoy a catio, just make sure to give them hiding spots to feel safe. Or perhaps they love basking in the sunshine on the windowsill, a catio will allow them extra space to do just that. Checks out our “DIY Catio Extras” (PDF) for additions to your catio that can be tailored to your cat’s personality.
What about the rain? How do I waterproof my catio?
If you plan on building your catio in a pre-existing patio (“DIY Enclosed Porch Catio” (PDF), it may already have a roof. If not, take a look at our “DIY Window Catio” (PDF) or “DIY Stand Alone Catio with Tunnel Access Option” (PDF) for ideas on how to build a roof.
All of our DIY guides recommend the use of cedar to build your catio, which is considered decay resistant. For a weatherproof roof, you can add polycarbonate roofing panels or treat the plywood. Additionally, if you do plan on treating the plywood make sure to use a pet safe wood preservative, like paint or oil. Look for products that are water based, free from heavy metals, low VOC, and avoid creosote.
What should be in my catio?
That is completely up to you! Additions to the catio can be in the form of perches, ladders, hiding spots, scratching posts, and so much more. This will allow them to exhibit their natural behaviours. Check out our “DIY Catio Extras” (PDF) for some ideas on where to start or come up with your own. Avoid additions to the catio that will attract rodents or insects. Things such as litter boxes and food are better off inside away from other critters.
Can I add plants to my catio?
Plants are a great way to add some excitement to your cats’ environment. Make sure to select cat friendly plants such as herbs (rosemary, basil, dill, thyme), grass that is safe for cats to eat (common oat, barley, wheatgrass), ferns, spider plants or catnip to name a few! Keep an eye on your plants though, rodents may find these additions just as enticing as your cat!
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.
How does a cat enter a catio?
There are lots of ways to attach a catio to a home, including door inserts in a window, a single or double flap pet door from the wall, or a tunnel from your home. All types of entries provide 24/7 safe access to the catio.
My cat is a bit skittish. Would they benefit from a catio?
Absolutely! We can help you design the perfect catio for your cat. 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!