Published on November 10, 2021 by Ana de Guzman

Indoor cats stare out the window for hours at a time envisioning what life is like outside but are often kept inside because their owners worry that they may run off. If this sounds like your cat, then cat-patios, also known as catios, may be just what your home needs. 

Catios are the perfect compromise for you and your furry friend – they get outside stimulation and you don’t have to worry. There are many catio ideas to fit any space, such as catio windows, a catio deck, or an outdoor catio. Whether you’re welcoming a cat into your home for the first time or just wanting to upgrade your home for your current kitty, the possibilities of what you can do are endless.

Why are catios important for cats?

There is a reason why homeowners keep their cats indoors – to protect them from the dangers lurking outside. Outside cats are more susceptible to diseases, parasites, cars, and wildlife. That being said, indoor cats live longer, on average, but lack the mental stimulation that outdoor cats receive. Catios are a great way to release their stored energy and find new smells while providing protection.

Catios can be as big or small as you want them to be and your space allows for. If you don’t want to take up too much space and spend a fortune, opt for a window or balcony catio. If you prefer a place for you and your cat to both hang out in, porch and backyard catios will be the perfect fit. Whatever your budget and imagination, one of these four catio ideas are sure to spark your next home improvement project.

4 ideas to consider adding to your home

1) Window catio

A window catio is the perfect catio idea for enhancing your cat’s favorite viewing spot and is simple to create. A window box is a cat’s very own enclosed shelf, allowing you to include a cat door so they can come and go as they please. Your cat will enjoy the pleasures of the outside air while feeling closer to its surroundings. Sizes can range from small boxes to large, depending on the size of your window, and how much of the window you want it to occupy. As a bonus, the material is typically a mesh wire, so the light will still shine through the window. 

2) Balcony catio

Balconies are bigger than a window and allow your cat to stretch its legs. Even though cats are well balanced, if your balcony isn’t secure, it may not be the safest idea for them to be on it unsupervised. Balcony catios are a great way to optimize your outside oasis for your cat without having to sacrifice building one on a window. You can cat-proof the balcony with mesh or chicken wire that carries over the railings and expands upward to create a ceiling, further protecting your furry friend.

3) Porch catio

Porch catios are larger than window and balcony catios since they are built on your deck. There are a few different ways to build a porch catio. You could dedicate a smaller section of the porch to include the tall enclosure with its own entrance, or you can secure your deck with mesh wire, connecting beams to the roof, and adding another door to your yard. Since porch catios are typically larger in size, you can add multi-level shelves and other structures so your cat can enjoy climbing around.

4) Backyard enclosure catio

If you are looking for a catio idea that’s not connected to your house, having a backyard enclosure is the best option for you. Backyard enclosures take shape in a variety of sizes and designs. From a simple collapsible enclosure to a themed catio that can fit you and your furry friend, they can be anything you desire. These backyard enclosures are a great way to incorporate your yard into the catio.

How to decide on the right design for your home

Let’s start with location. You’ll want to build a catio where there is access to the inside – this may be a window or a door – anywhere you can let your cat walk directly into the catio. If you are deciding to place a cat door for easy access, there are plenty of options that fit with all types of windows and doors. Plus, a cat door is an effective catio idea that will keep your house warmer, eliminating the need to leave your windows open for them.

Once you have chosen the location, you will need to determine the size of the catio. This will be based on how much outdoor space you have to accommodate it, as well as how many cats are going to use it. After determining the location and size of what your catio will be, you can preorder custom-made designs or do it yourself. Depending on how customized you want the catio, premade options can get expensive. So if you’re trying to stay budget-friendly, consider making it your next DIY project.

With any of these catio ideas, consider the right roof and location. Cats love to sunbathe, but if you live in a warmer climate such as Phoenix, AZ, or Calgary AB, choosing the right roof is critical so your cat doesn’t overheat. However, if you live in a colder climate like St. Paul, MN, or Sudbury, ON, wood roofing can help keep your cat warm during the winter months.

What you need to build a window catio

Because window catios are the simplest option, most homeowners will opt for this addition. If you’re planning to create your own window catio here is what you’ll need:

  • Chicken wire or mesh wire for the sides
  • Flat plywood/cedar for the floor
  • Lumber for the beams and wall mounts
  • Staple gun 
  • Drill and screws or wood glue
  • Tape measure
  • Wood saw
  • Optional- cat door

To begin building your window box, you will need to use the wood saw to cut the lumber for the beams and floor to the desired length. After this, you will connect the beams to form a rectangular frame by using screws or wood glue. Once the frame is completed, drill the wall mounts to your home and secure the wood frame to the top with screws or wood glue. Now, add the flooring inside the frame and on top of the wall mounts using screws or glue to secure it in place. Next, add the wire to the outside of the frame using a staple gun. Once you’ve added the roof of your choice – wire, plastic covering, or wood –  your window catio is complete.

Once you bring a kitty home, they become part of your family. A great way to show them your love is by building a catio for their entertainment. By now, you have learned that catios are a great way for cats to enjoy the outdoors in the comfort of your home. The hard part is deciding which catio ideas are right for your home and your cat, and once you decide on the design that works for you, your cat will be much happier.