Catio = Cat + Patio: Why Your Cat Needs a Kitty Veranda

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As modern home life has brought humans and cats closer than ever, we find ourselves living with both sweet, playful cuddlers, and stealthy, deadly hunters. That nefarious kitty might purr and preen the day away, but let it out of the house for a bit and it might come back with a feathered present between its jaws that you didn’t expect or need: a bird. 

There are now approximately 94 million owned cats in the U.S., up from 70 million in 2000. . And, the owned but unrestrained cats, plus their feral kitty comrades, kill an estimated 2.4 billion birds per year in the U.S., making cat predation the single largest human-related cause of bird mortality by far. Outdoors, cats pose risks to ecosystems around the globe as potential disease vectors and as predators of native birds and other wildlife. Additionally, risks to a kitty on the loose such as predation by larger animals, poison ingestion, contracting feline diseases, and automobile traffic are genuine concerns for cat owners. 

Might there be a solution that is good for cats, birds, AND humans?  There certainly is.

Catio = Cat + Patio

A catio – or “cat patio” – is an outdoor enclosure that keeps cats and wildlife safe. Catios offer cats healthy exercise time while keeping them safe from  outdoor hazards such as cars, predators, and poisons. 

Catios can be simple or elaborate, inexpensive or extreme. No matter how you design one, each catio has the common goal of keeping your cat safe while allowing outside time. 

Portland Audubon’s Cats Safe At Home campaign shares some great ideas when considering the design of a DIY catio. Consider the following: 

  • Cat-only catios can be small and inexpensive to build.
  • Cat and human-shared catios can be transformed from an existing patio by enclosing it with screen or wire, or can be a new addition to your home.
  • Cat access to a catio can be through a window, door, or wall cut, and either direct or via a tunnel . You can also carry kitty to a free-standing feature.
  • Cool features are limited only by space, weather, safety concerns, and creativity! Consider ramps, cat trees, and boulders for climbing; fountains and perches. Don’t forget lounge chairs for humans to relax with their favorite felines!

Looking for more on cats and catios? Find more statistics and links to scientific literature here, and more design and product ideas for your own catio here