18 Catio Ideas: Creative and Innovative
Looking to add a catio to your home? They’re a great way of allowing your indoor cat to enjoy the great outdoors in a safe space, but there are loads of different ways you can approach a catio plan. Here’s a list of some great catio ideas to inspire you.
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What Is a Catio?
A catio is a ‘cat patio.’ It’s a safe outdoor space where your cat can relax and enjoy fresh air without the concerns of getting lost, being run over, or being attacked by other animals. It also stops your cat from acting on its predatory instincts and bringing you ‘presents’ of various dead, small animals.
1. The Full Works
Why limit yourself to one theme of catio when you can go all out and provide everything your cat would want? This doesn’t have to mean a cluttered mess but just ensuring that you’ve got every base covered – toys. On these shelves, your cat can sit and relax, scratching posts, a bed for an outdoor snooze, a tunnel for exploration…
If you have the space for a larger catio, you can create different zones for each activity and give your cat the ultimate outdoor home space.
2. Natural Theme
One of the benefits of a catio is that it allows your cat to be closer to nature, so why not bring that theme into your catio design? You can use turf as flooring and line the shelves with turf offcuts, creating a soft sensation where your cat can relax. Add some cat-friendly plants for color and intrigue, and you’ve created the ideal cat garden.
3. Balcony Catio
If you have a balcony – whether you live in an apartment or your bedroom has a small outdoor space – you can easily convert this into a catio by adding a roof to keep your cat safe. If the balcony is made from a solid material, try to extend the walls first with something see-through, like mesh fencing.
It’s much more interesting for your cat if they can see out of the balcony, so providing a perch and a viewing spot above the solid sides will be ideal.
Check out more catios for balconies.
4. PlayPen Catio
Another way you can approach a catio is to go all-out with the toys and turn them into a jungle gym. Making the outdoor space as fun as possible will encourage your cat to exercise and stay active, which is excellent for your kitty’s physical and mental well-being.
Using toys that are easy to swap in and out keeps the catio more stimulating over longer periods, too, for even more enrichment for your furry friend.
5. Corner Space
An excellent space-saving way to design a catio is to place it in the corner of your yard, especially as you can use the side of your home and the fence as existing walls, meaning you only need to add a diagonal wall across and a ceiling, keeping the materials needed to a minimum.
Why not go all-out and put a corner catio in a different part of your yard and add a fun tunnel as a secure way for your kitty to access it?
6. Treehouse Catio
A treehouse theme is a wonderful idea for a catio. You can achieve this by using plenty of wood and giving your cat some fun hidey holes where they can feel safe and look out over the garden.
It’s essentially bringing a cat condo into a catio, which encourages fun exploration and a feeling of security at the same time.
7. Room with a View
A large part of what makes a catio so interesting is the option for your cat to watch the outdoor world and get a closer view of flora and fauna.
So, add plenty of viewing spaces. Consider adding clear panels in the best spots instead of wire mesh fencing, so your cat enjoys an uninterrupted view.
8. Portable RV Catio
Not every catio has to be a permanent installation on your home. If you use a panel design, it’s possible to create a temporary frame that can be assembled and disassembled at will.
This might be ideal if you live somewhere with harsh weather conditions where you don’t want to leave it to get damaged during storms, or if you own an RV and want to bring your cat with you to enjoy your vacation – adding a catio space to your portable home is a lovely luxury to have.
If it only needs zip ties to assemble, it can be ready in minutes.
9. Catios With Tunnels
Cats love tunnels since they offer hiding spots and a fun enclosed space for zoomies. Consider incorporating tunnels into your catio design, either within an existing catio just as a small safe space or as a means of connecting your home to a catio set away from the side of the property.
Some great catio designs are intended to sit in the middle of the garden. Linking them to a cat door via an enclosed tunnel means your cat always has easy access.
10. Catio Bridge
A catio bridge is a high tunnel. It can link to another catio or as a standalone space. Using a bridge design allows your cat to wander around your garden space and explore while staying safe within a secure enclosed tunnel.
Make sure it’s wide enough, so your cat has plenty of space to stop, laze and turn around at any point. They’ll love the opportunities to patrol your garden without feeling threatened.
11. Catio Gym
Adding what is essentially a gym space to your backyard is a fantastic way of keeping your feline friend happy and healthy. A catio that offers space for your cat to run and climb will promote exercise and gives your indoor cat somewhere new and exciting to burn off some of that energy.
Of course, you can achieve this will various existing cat toys, too – cat trees, ladders, tunnels, and a cat wheel can all be incorporated. You need to provide a secure frame around it all.
12. Scratch Catio
One way to keep your outdoor cat enclosure interesting and stimulating is by adding as many scratching surfaces as possible. For example, make use of scratching posts, scratch ladders, and add scratching carpets to shelves.
Your cat can then lounge around, soak up some sun, and simultaneously expend some of that scratching energy.
13. Window Catio
The window box makes for a great small catio if you don’t have a suitable space to create an outdoor enclosure. They’re often simpler to construct, too, but you need to spend a little more time ensuring they’re secure enough to support your cat’s weight.
They offer the ideal viewing platform with fresh air for your cat to sunbathe and survey the space and wildlife around your home.
Take a look at this example window catio from a Floppycats reader.
14. Colorful Catio
It’s believed that cats can see many of the same colors humans can, with a particular ability to detect blue-violet hues and a decent perception of yellow-green shades.
Reds and oranges tend to be more difficult for your cat to discern, but why not liven up your catio by adding more colors that your cat can enjoy, brightening the outdoor space and creating a more engaging sensory experience?
15. Floating Shelves Catio
The more spaces your pet has to jump, climb and relax in a catio, the better. So add some floating shelves to the side of the wall or the cage, and you allow your cat to choose different heights where they can lie down and assert their dominance over the backyard.
16. Indoor/Outdoor Catio
While the catio usually is attached to your home and is more designed to give an outdoor space as a contrast to the insides of your actual house, you might want to add some secure indoor spaces to the catio itself so that your kitty can enjoy a bit of an escape from the hot sun and also feel more secure in a new spot.
There’s an easy shortcut for this, too, if you want – you could customize a larger rabbit hutch, which often has indoor and outdoor spaces. Widen any doorways and have a ready-made cat house with outdoor space.
17. Hammock Catio
While shelves are an excellent addition to a catio and allow your cat to lay flat and watch the world go by, you could also consider hammocks as an alternative.
They’re easy to hang between the chicken wire and offer a fun and cozy space for your cat to sleep away the day with a gentle breeze rocking them. Consider adding multiple hammocks into your catio plan for extra variety.
18. IKEA Catio
One of the easiest shortcuts to a great catio is to get some IKEA furniture and seal it in with chicken wire.
A bookcase is a cheap solution, and if you just offset the shelves, then you have a simple, sturdy catio that you can place against any outside window. Super easy and yet effective.
While you can buy ready-to-assemble catios or pay a handyperson to build one, it’s usually cheaper to build one yourself. You don’t need to be a genius designer, either.
There are a lot of catio plans that you can buy that tell you all the materials you need and give you step-by-step instructions on how to put the catio together.
Check out my guide to DIY catio plans and catio design ideas.
There are many safety factors to consider when planning a catio. You must ensure that your cat can’t escape and those other creatures can’t get into your catio.
It should offer fun and exciting activities without leaving jumps too far apart where your cat could fall and hurt themselves. And you need to ensure that there aren’t any sharp edges or splintered wood.
Find out how to build a safe catio.
How Do You Attach a Catio to Siding?
Your catio needs to be held securely against the siding of your home to prevent your cat from escaping through any gaps.
You can use L-shaped brackets to screw the catio into the wall of your home. Find the studs or for brick, drill into the brick and use anchors.
Do I Need Permission to Build a Catio?
Depending on the size of your catio, you may need planning permission. But, again, you’ll need to check your local building regulations for specifics.
Typically, you will need planning permission if your catio is close to a boundary, is over 8 feet tall, is in your front yard, or is in a conservation area.
Does a Catio Need a Floor?
Whether your catio needs a floor depends on where it is built. Adding an artificial floor is optional if it is built directly onto grass, paving, or a wooden deck.
However, add a floor to protect your kitty’s paws if it is built onto loose gravel. If the catio is sheltered, you could use sisal carpet for a bonus scratching floor.
Is It Cruel to Have a Catio?
Catios are not cruel. For cats that are used to being indoors, they offer a chance to enjoy some of the benefits of being outdoors in a safe way. Cats used to being outdoors are also kept safer and will adjust to their limited outdoor space.
As long as you keep your cat healthy and stimulated with plenty of exercise options, catios are humane.
How Much Does a Catio Cost?
Catio prices vary wildly depending on the size and scale of the project and whether you decide to build it yourself or pay a professional to do it for you.
Expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars for plans and materials if you want to build a basic one, while custom catios can cost thousands.
Is It Cheaper to Buy or Build a Catio?
It is almost always cheaper to build your own catio, provided you’ve got the DIY skills to put one together to a good standard.
However, if you aren’t good with manual work and you waste materials, it might have been cheaper to get someone to do it right the first time for you.
Are Cats Smart Enough to Not Jump off a Balcony?
Cats are very intelligent creatures and unlikely to jump from a balcony willingly. However, that doesn’t mean that balconies are safe – cats can make mistakes, and accidents can also happen.
Therefore, it would be best if you didn’t let your cat onto an unsecured balcony. Instead, convert it into a covered catio balcony so your cat can’t accidentally jump or fall.
Are Catios Safe?
Catios are generally safe, provided they’ve been built to a high standard. Please only allow your cat to use a catio built well, as a poorly constructed catio could collapse.
Also, it needs to be extra secure if you live somewhere with predators like coyotes. Remember that coyotes could dig under a catio, so ensure the floor is secured adequately if that’s a risk where you live.
Always lurve to see catios! TYSVM, Jenny honey! Super pawesome & interesting info! 🙂 <3
Big hugs, lots of love & purrs!
Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3