How “Catios” Help Keep Cats Safe in the Great Outdoors

Outdoor enclosures give your cat access to fresh air and a stimulating environment.

Outside, cats can experience fresh air and sunshine. By: kitty.green66

Whether or not to allow your cat outdoors is one of the most important decisions to make when you live with a feline buddy. People weigh in strongly on both sides of the issue, so it’s hard to make a clear-cut (and guilt-free) decision.

When your cat is indoors, they miss out on the fresh air and sunshine and — even though we may not like it — the ability to use their predatory instincts to catch small mammals and birds. But when they’re outside, they face dangers in the form of fast-moving cars, larger wildlife and all manner of ticks and stinging insects.

It’s hard to know what’s best for your cat when you’re hearing from both indoor and outdoor advocates, but there may be a way to help alleviate some of that pressure: cat enclosures.

Cat Enclosures

Built outdoors, these cat enclosures afford your cat the opportunity to be outside and stay relatively safe. Wendy Christensen and the staff of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) explain it best in their book The Humane Society of the United States Complete Guide to Cat Care:

“It’s his place to run and sun, to climb and frolic, to sniff the breezes and snooze away balmy afternoons. It’s his observation post for keeping track of the neighborhood fauna without disturbing their activities or having to defend his territory, honor, or hunting rights. It’s a safe perch from which to safely spy on that annoying neighbor dog and check out passersby without fear or concern about whether they’re friend or foe.”

What They Look Like

The design of cat enclosures — or “catios,” as they’re sometimes called — is only limited by your imagination and space constraints. You can purchase one commercially from just about any retailer, including Amazon, PetSmart and other shops. These are usually simple to put together.

If you’d prefer to create your own, you can easily find ideas on places like Pinterest. You can build your cat’s enclosure to be massive, add furniture, shade, scratching posts and, heck, even plants (just make sure they’re cat-friendly).

If you’re an apartment dweller, you still have options. You can fit a smaller enclosure out on a balcony or install a window enclosure. It may not allow your cat to wander outdoors, but at least they’ll be able to sit in the sunlight and sniff the breezes.

With catios, cats can enjoy the outdoors and stay safe. By: Dana

Ensuring Safety

There are a few things to think about when building or buying your cat’s enclosure:

  • Try to get aluminum screen or wire versus plastic or nylon. Plastic and nylon won’t always hold up well to determined claws.
  • Attach all screens firmly. Don’t leave any edging that can be pried up or loosened.
  • If the enclosure is in a sunny spot, make sure there is shade or access to the house/apartment.
  • If you put plants in the enclosure, be sure they are not toxic to cats.
  • Always leave plenty of water.
  • Seal the enclosure firmly, whether it’s on the ground or in a window, to prevent escape.

“Don’t underestimate the strength of your cat’s claws; a nose-to-nose encounter with a gray squirrel (or a stray cat) can be awfully exciting,” warns HSUS.

This cat is definitely living the good life:

Why You Need One

As a pet sitter, I come across all kinds of cat people. Some do let their cats roam freely outdoors, and — I won’t lie — it makes me very nervous. In my area, there are several busy roads as well as coyotes and other wildlife, all of which can be fatal to a wandering cat. We have cats that are killed almost daily here.

Other issues that tend to crop up are:

  1. Rabid animals; particularly skunks and raccoons.
  2. Animal control picks the cat up. If there are no tags or microchips on the cat, they are taken to the shelter.
  3. Cats eat toxic plants or poisoned bait intended for other wildlife.
  4. Other people find the cat and decide to “adopt” her.

In all of those scenarios, you never see your cat again. It’s terribly sad, but it can be prevented. Using a cat enclosure is the compromise for both indoor and outdoor cat advocates.

And here’s something exciting to know: You can get reimbursed for the cost of microchipping under Embrace Pet Insurance’s Wellness Rewards. Curious about the cost of pet health insurance? It’s more affordable than you probably think. Get your FREE, no-hassle quote here (affiliate link).

Melissa Smith

View posts by Melissa Smith
Melissa Smith, discussions manager for Petful, has been researching and writing about pet behaviors for several years. A longtime pet lover, she lives in Massachusetts with her teenage son, their cat Harrison and the spirit of their German shepherd named Gypsy. Melissa is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in multimedia design and hopes to adopt as many needy animals as she can.

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