Cat’s just wanna have fu-un! That means climbing trees, chasing leaves, and lounging in the sun. Yet, in our desire to keep our beloved fur companions safe, we imprison them in our homes.
Written by Jackeye Meinecke Written by Steven Kavanagh
It’s time to think outside of the indoor environment for our feline best friend. It’s time to add a catio. The benefits of catios are many, but include providing a safe, healthy, happy, and entertaining environment. At the same time, a catio protects wildlife, such as birds, lizards, and other furry garden visitors.
A catio is an enclosed outdoor space that allows cats to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors with none of the risks. What some people don’t realize is how simply they can be made!
Catios are available in a variety of designs and sizes for a window, porch, patio, deck, or yard. Cats enter through a cat door insert in a window, wall or door Catios can be purchased for as little as $200; however, many owners choose to build their own or have a local carpenter construct one.
Some Las Crucens already have embraced the idea of a catio. From small and simple to large and luxurious, these people have created spaces for their companions.
Joe Miele, a local TNR advocate, who began rescuing cats two decades ago in New Jersey, designed his catio in panels that can be disassembled and moved. He wanted a catio to keep his cats safe as well as protect birds and lizards.
“I knew I wouldn’t be in my house forever,” Miele said. He constructed a catio from wooden panels and wire that bolt together. While he created his own design, he noted there are many catio plans available on the internet.
“There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.”
“Cats like a three dimensional space,” Miele said about designing a catio. He gives them lots of shelves to lounge on. Since his catio is attached to the house at one of the doors, the cats can go in and out as they please.
Joe Miele, with partner Rebecca Stanger, manage Broken Promises SW, a nonprofit TNR organization. Broken Promises has rescued more than 1,000 cats since their incorporation in 2010.
A catio is an enclosed outdoor space that allows cats to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors…
My catio is very simple and inexpensive – metal fence posts, wire and net. I wanted to give my cats room to climb and play, so I enclosed an existing garden next to the house. A window from a spare bedroom is fitted with a cat door. This newest addition in my garden still is evolving, but I plan to add a fountain and some platforms for climbing and lounging.
Then there are extraordinary catios such as Elizabeth and Wayne Grinnell planned when they were building their home.
“There was going to be a patio anyway,” Elizabeth said. “We already had a structure and a wall.” They worked with Wayne and Kiki Suggs of Classic New Mexico Homes to create an amazing space enjoyed by humans, dogs, and cats.
“We spend a lot of time in the catio,” Elizabeth said. “It is warm in the morning and cool in the evening. We have to throw the animals off the furniture to get a seat,” Elizabeth jokes.
This inviting space features a pond and planting beds. It is filled with comfortable furniture and pots of flowers and vegetables. A large wisteria climbs to the roof in a corner. They also added a doggie door for the animals to go in and out at will.
The catio is around 900 square feet.
“That’s the size of a million dollar condo in San Francisco,” Wayne joked.
Wayne emphasized the safety of the catio, pointing out the entrances are designed to keep rattlesnakes out.
“This is a dangerous place for pets,” Wayne observed about the wild desert area around their home. “We have nesting golden eagles, bobcat, mountain lion, owl, javelina, and coyotes.”
This is Elizabeth’s third catio. In the 1990s, she enclosed an apartment balcony fand she also added a catio at her former home in Las Cruces.
I believe going outdoors is good for an animal’s health and happiness. They need the mental stimulation. It’s part of what let’s me have 17-year-old cats.
“A catio is the way we have created a sanctuary for people,” Elizabeth said – and their fur family.
8 Reasons for a catio
1. Protects your cat from vehicles, predators, poisons, diseases from other animals or getting lost.
2. Reduces veterinary bills from fights or injuries.
3. Protects birds and wildlife.
4. Provides a healthy outdoor lifestyle with fresh air, exercise, bird watching and sunbathing!
5. Reduces indoor multi-cat issues by adding more territory.
6. Moves the kitty litter box out of the house.
7. Improves neighbor relations by keeping your cat out of their yard.
8. Peace of mind knowing your cat is in a safe and protected environment.