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What Is a Catio, and How Do You Create One?

Three cats are inside three different types of catio.
Outback Jack/Omlet

It’s no secret that pet parents tend to spoil their furbabies as much as possible. For cat owners, this usually involves giving them a few too many treats or collecting a basket full of toys they never play with. But there’s one luxury that’s also really good for your feline friend: a catio.

If you’ve never heard of a catio, you’ve probably never watched an episode of My Cat From Hell with self-proclaimed Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy. We spoke with Sarah Wooten, doctor of veterinary medicine at Pumpkin Pet Insurance, and Stephanie Brown, resident pet expert at Chewy, to get the lowdown on these cat-centric spaces.

With their advice and some suggestions, we’ll help you create a catio for your own beloved furball.

What Is a Catio?

Cat sit inside outdoor catio pens.
Pawhut

A catio is, well, basically exactly what it sounds like: a patio for cats. However, Brown explained that it’s much more than just an outdoor space.

“[A catio] is an enclosed outdoor space for cats to enjoy some fresh air, stretch their legs, and bird watch (or squirrel, bug, lizard watch),” Brown said, “all while keeping them safe from predators and other dangers, like fast-moving cars.”

Catios can be stand-alone structures with four walls and a ceiling, or an extension of your home that your cat can access through a pet door or open window. You can also screen off areas of a deck or patio, or create a window enclosure.

Essentially, the idea is to give your cat a way to enjoy the great outdoors, while still keeping him safe.

PawHut Large Wooden Outdoor Cat House Catio Enclosure

Give your cat some space to roam.

Why Catios Are Good for Cats

Two cats play inside catio structures.
Aivituvi

At first glance, a catio might just seem like a way to let your indoor cat go outside, but they also have many other benefits.

“Catios provide the mental and physical stimulation that most cats need and want by creating a space where a cat can see and smell all the neat stuff that is outside,” Wooten said.

She also said that creating a catio can help your cat stay physically fit and happy. Plus, due to the enhanced stimulation, a catio can lessen the chance of behavioral issues cats can develop due to boredom, and even prevent aggression between cats if you have more than one.

Add in that the activity can also help prevent weight gain, deter litter box issues, and prevent destructive behaviors, and you’ve got a winner. Wooten also recommended catios in particular for special needs or senior cats, as they allow these animals to enjoy the outdoors, while also maintaining their safety.

Aivituvin Outdoor Cat House

Give your cat space to roam

 

How to Create a Catio

A cat sits on a bed in a catio, and a person pets a cat inside a catio.
Omlet

Sold on creating a catio for your own special feline friend? As we mentioned previously, there are stand-alone options you can purchase.

If you want something more involved, Wooten recommended Catio Spaces and Omlet, both of which are dedicated to making quality cat enclosures. They come in a variety of sizes and can easily be assembled right in your backyard.

GUTINNEEN Cat House

Set up their space and let them play.

You can also build a catio on your own. Brown advised crafting an enclosure that allows your cat(s) to move around freely. She also recommended using lumber to frame the four sides (one of which will need a door).

Then, you can use pet fencing or a strong screen material to create the walls of the enclosure. Once that’s done, you can use solid wood or more of the same screen material to craft the ceiling.

As for the interior, Brown advised adding shelves and cat trees to allow your furry friends to climb and lounge to their hearts’ content. While it’s important for them to have sunlight, there should also be a shaded area where they can go to stay cool.

Yaheetech 54in Cat Tree Tower

Your cat will have the best view in the neighborhood.

Catios for Renters

Cats play inside two outdoor play pens.
Outback Jack

If you’re a renter, it might seem like you don’t have as many options for a catio, especially if you live in an apartment or townhome. However, this is isn’t true! If you have even a small outdoor space, it is possible to give your cat his own outdoor area.

Wooten advised checking with your landlord first, just to make sure there are no restrictions regarding your outdoor space. You can get stand-alone structures in a variety of sizes, depending on what will fit in the area you have available.

Even if you don’t have any outdoor space at all, you can still have a catio.

“You can make a window box-style catio that serves as an extension of your indoor space,” Brown said. “They hang out of your window, similar to a window-unit air conditioner.”

She also suggested trying a cat playpen, which can be set up, and then put away after your cat plays outdoors for a bit.

Outback Jack Outdoor Cat Enclosure for Indoor Cats

Give your cat some fun in the sun.

Indoor Alternatives

A cat goes down stairs, and two cats sit in a hammock.
FUKUMARU/Pupagree

If you simply don’t have any outdoor space for a catio or have reservations about letting your cat go outside, you can still provide her with plenty of stimulation indoors.

In homes where a catio just isn’t an option, Brown recommended a window perch. These simple cat accessories either adhere to the window with suction cups or attach to the sill, so they’re perfect for renters. They’ll give kitty a perfect view of the outside world and some even double as scratchers.

Pupagree Cat Window Perch

Talk about a front row seat.

Freestanding cat shelves are another option Brown likes. Unlike cat trees, these pieces can be mounted to walls so your cats can climb and play all over the room without ever touching the floor.

FUKUMARU Cat Climbing Shelf Wall Mounted

Let your cat explore a whole new part of the house.


While your cat might love getting a handful of treats each day, a catio is a much healthier way to spoil her. These outdoor spaces provide the mental and physical stimulation your kitty needs, while also keeping her safe from danger. Plus, you’re sure to get lots of purrs of approval.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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