There are an estimated 11 million pet cats currently living in the UK, but sadly, many hundreds of thousands end up being killed every year in road traffic accidents. If you have lost a cat to a car, you will know how traumatic it is.
As a proud pet parent, you want to keep your furry friend safe and enjoy a long and happy life with them. This, along with the risk of cat theft (especially for pedigree breeds) and more of us living in apartments with only a balcony or small outside space – has led to a growing number of cat mums and dads choosing to keep their feline friends as indoor cats.
Indoor cats tend to live longer than their outdoor counterparts, however, there is a trade-off – the mental welfare of the cat. A cat’s natural way of life is to spend at least some of the day outdoors, hunting, climbing and patrolling their territory. Without proper considering of these needs, indoor cats can be prone to boredom, depression, anxiety and destructive behaviour.
This trade-off has been a real quandary for cat owners, unsure what is the best option for their feline companion. Thankfully, there is now a solution that presents a compromise between outdoor and indoor – the cat patio or ‘catio’!
These outdoor cat enclosures allow your cat to explore the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors while keeping them safe (and local wildlife safe from your cat).
To get you inspired, we have rounded up some of the best cat enclosure ideas and how to create the ideal catio for your fluffball.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW
Cats love to survey their territory and partake in a good bit of bird watching. Positioning your cat enclosure in a prime location with great visibility over the surrounding area will provide untold hours of stimulation for your cat. Your feline friend will be thrilled by taking in the many sights and sounds around them including trees, birds and other animals.
CONVERT AN EXISTING SPACE
A catio doesn’t have to be a purpose-built structure, there are plenty of ways to convert existing outdoor areas into secure cat enclosureS. Work with a carpenter, a cat enclosure specialist, or DIY an existing balcony, patio or decked area of your home.
CREATE ROOM TO ROAM
If you have the space around the exterior of your house or in your garden, create enclosed walkways for your cat to roam and explore. These tunnels can wrap around your home or extend from your house out into the garden where a larger cat enclosure can be positioned.
USE VERTICAL SPACE
Cats love to climb and perch high above their territory. If you have the room, create a cat enclosure with plenty of vertical space. Give your cat access to the full area by installing perches, walkways, climbing trees and cat ladders.
MAKE SURE THERE’S SHADE
While our feline friends love nothing more than to bask in the midday sun, some times of year will be too hot for your cat to spend hours out in the baking heat. Make sure your cat encolure is positioned so that your cat will have access to shade at any given time of day.
A WONDERFUL WINDOW BOX
If you live in an apartment or don’t have a garden, a cat window box is a great way to give your cat a little taste of the outside world. These smaller enclosures extend out from an existing window so your cat can let themselves in and out whenever they please to take in some of the natural world around them.
CREATE A SHARED SPACE
Cat enclosures aren’t just for cats – by creating a catio that is walk-in height you can make it a place for you both to enjoy! Why not furnish it with comfy seating, cushions, blankets and a coffee table for your tea and books? Heaven!
KIT(TY) IT OUT WITH ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES
A cat enclosure is not just a ‘cage’ – it’s a thoughtfully designed space created to provide your cat with plenty of pleasure, stimulation and exercise. Take the lead from catio specialists, Backyard Cat Enclosures, whose cat runs include cat hammocks, bouncy bridges, perches – they even have arched walkways fitted with grooming brushes for cats to rub against!
CREATE A CAT GARDEN (BUT AVOID TOXIC PLANTS)
Cats are natural foragers, so why not bring some greenery into your catio? Potted plants and hanging baskets can all provide interest and stimulation for your kitty. Some plants that cats go wild for include cat grass, catnip, bamboo and catmint. Be sure to avoid plants which can be toxic to cats including Lillies, Daffodils, Tulips and Aloe Vera. Get inspired by these ideas for safe and fun cat gardens.
MAKE IT PORTABLE
Variety is the spice of life, and the same goes for your feline friend. So why not buy or create a portable cat enclosure on wheels? This way you can move the enclosure around your garden or balcony depending on the sun, weather, and just for a change of scenery!
Have you considered installing a catio for your furry taskmaster? Tell us in the comments below!