A picure of an orange and white cat representing a cat in a catio

A catio can help your feline friend enjoy the outdoors in a safe enclosure.

A new lifestyle choice for cats called a catio is gaining in popularity.  A catio is an outdoor enclosure which provides a safe alternative to living life as an "outdoor" cat.  A catio can be created by an owner or purchased from a company.  Many health conditions in cats have been linked to living an indoors-only lifestyle.  Catios may help our feline friends live a more natural lifestyle and help reduce the risk for health issues and enrich their lives.  Catios may also improve the lives of wildlife by reducing an outdoor cat's ability to injure and kill wildlife.

The Indoor Versus the Outdoor Lifestyle for Cats

Living indoors puts our cats at risk for several health conditions.  Obesity is probably the number one disease risk for our cats living indoors.  As a result of living indoors, many of our cats are quite sedentary. In addition, they often have free access to unlimited food all the time.  Therefore, our indoor obese cats are at risk of developing diabetes and arthritis.  Catios can help to improve a cat's daily activity and keep its weight in check.  Inappropriate urination and anxiety are two other significant health issues common for indoor only cats.  Catios may help to reduce stress levels and provide more environmental enrichment.

Living outdoors puts our cats at risk for several health conditions as well.  Fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites are more common in outdoor cats.  The Feline Leukemia and Feline Aids viruses can be transmitted between outdoor cats.  Injuries and fights occur more often in our outdoor cats as well.  A catio enclosure can help prevent many injuries and fights, but a good quality flea and tick product is still recommended.  Routine fecal checks are important for cats that spend time in a catio as well.

A Catio for Your Cat

Owners can build their own outdoor patio for their cat.  Some homemade catios are quite elaborate and homey.  Catios can range in size from a window to a yard.  Cats can get their catio through a cat door installed in a window, wall, or door.  Many DIY catio projects can be found online to help you get started if you would like to create your own.  Click here to see some examples of catios.

Better for Wildlife

Debate over the hunting lifestyle of outdoor cats continues to occur between cat lovers and wildlife lovers.  No one can deny that outdoor cats kill or maim wildlife.  It is part of nature.   Many of our wildlife species are also facing habitat loss and other dangers such as pesticide use.  Therefore, catios are one tool that cat owners can use to help protect birds and other wildlife species.

In conclusion, a  catio can provide your feline friend with access to the great outdoors and help protect our wildlife.

Written by Nancy T. Haiko, D.V.M.