What’s a Catio?

Two cats in Catio

by Jenny Trawick

According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans will spend $60 billion on their pets this year. Much of the growth in spending is motivated by owners’ desire to enhance their pets’ safety and enrichment. And if you’re looking for a great way to enrich your cat’s life, you might want to consider the “catio,” or cat patio.

Inside the catio, cats can smell the fresh air, bird watch, and lounge outside from the safety of an enclosure. A catio can be a simple screen box, a walkway, or a roomy enclosed porch that is screened on all sides and overhead. This allows cats to experience the outdoors without venturing beyond your home.

Outdoor and indoor cats alike can benefit from experiencing the outdoors in a safe way. The catio provides a chance to get outside without encountering predators, traffic or other dangers. Adding scratch posts and other enrichment areas can enhance the cat’s experience even more.

Check out the catio of volunteers Chris Hansen and Jim Slater, pictured. Chris has been building catios for her cats for 25 years, and “each one has gotten bigger and better, but this one is the best,” she says. She designed it and, with Jim’s help, spent two hot summer days building it. Their cats use the catio throughout the year, though they don’t stay out long during the winter.

If you’re looking for a fun summer project, look no further! You don’t need to hire an architect. Get creative and do it yourself. You’ll need basic construction materials like lumber, screening, and some hardware. Try a pop of color or a design to match your home. Making your own catio saves money and it will be one of a kind. Best of all, your cat will appreciate your hard work for years to come.