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.
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 about getting lost, being run over, or being attacked by other animals. It also stops your cat from acting on their own 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 that your cat would want? This doesn’t have to mean a cluttered mess, but just ensuring that you’ve got every base covered – toys, shelves where 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, then 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 a flooring and also line the shelves with turf offcuts, creating a soft sensation where your cat can relax. Add some cat-friendly plants for a little bit of color and intrigue and you’ve essentially created the ideal cat garden.
3. Balcony Catio
If you have a balcony – whether you live in an apartment or your bedroom just has a small outdoor space – then you can quite 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 a lot more interesting for your cat if they’re able to 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 essentially turn it into a jungle gym. Making the outdoor space as fun as possible will encourage your cat to exercise and stay active, which is great for both the physical and mental wellbeing of your kitty. Using toys that are easy to swap in and out also keeps the catio more stimulating over longer periods of time, too, for even more enrichment for your furry friend.
5. Corner Space
A good 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. Although why not go all-out and put a corner catio in a further part of your yard, and add a fun tunnel as a secure way of your kitty accessing it?
6. Treehouse Catio
A treehouse theme is a wonderful idea for a catio, and 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 be able to watch the outdoor world and get a closer view of the flora and fauna. So, add plenty of viewing spaces, and consider adding some clear panels in the best spots instead of wire mesh fencing so that your cat enjoys an uninterrupted view.
8. Portable RV Catio
Not every catio has to be a permanent installation on your home, and if you use a panel design then 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, and if it only needs zip ties to assemble then it can be ready in minutes.
9. Catios With Tunnels
Cats love tunnels, since they offer hiding spots and also 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 that’s set away from the side of the property. There are some great catio designs that are intended to sit in the middle of the garden, and linking them to a cat door via an enclosed tunnel means your cat always has easy access.
10. Catio Bridge
A catio bridge is essentially an elevated tunnel, and can either be used to link to another catio or just as a standalone space. Using a bridge design allows your cat to wander around your garden space and explore, whilst staying safe within a secure enclosed tunnel. Just make sure it’s wide enough so that your cat has plenty of space to stop, laze and turn around at any point, and 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. You can achieve this will various existing cat toys too – cat trees, ladders, tunnels and a cat wheel can all be incorporated, and you just need to provide the secure frame around it all.
12. Scratch Catio
One way to really keep your outdoor cat enclosure interesting and stimulating is to add as many scratching surfaces as possible. Make use of scratching posts, scratch ladders and add scratching carpet to shelves and your cat can then lounge around, soak up some sun and expend some of that scratching energy all at the same time.
13. Window Catio
If you don’t have a suitable space to create an outdoor enclosure, the a window box makes for a great small catio. They’re often simpler to construct too, though you just need to spend a little more time ensuring that they’re secure enough to support your cat’s weight. They offer the ideal viewing platform with a little bit of 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 that 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 of the colors that your cat can enjoy, brightening up the outdoor space and creating a more engaging sensory experience?
15. Floating Shelves Catio
The more spaces that 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 the choice of different heights where they can lie down and assert their dominance over the backyard.
16. Indoor/Outdoor Catio
While the catio is normally 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 or similar, which often has both indoor and outdoor spaces. Widen any doorways and you’ve a ready-made cat house with outdoor space to go.
17. Hammock Catio
While shelves are a perfectly fine 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 snooze 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 off-set 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 catios that are ready to just assemble or pay a handyman to build one for you, 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 a number of safety factors to consider when planning a catio. You need to make sure that your cat can’t escape, and that other creatures can’t get into your catio either. It should offer fun and interesting activities, without leaving jumps too far apart where your cat could fall and hurt themselves. And you need to make sure 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 into the catio and 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. You’ll need to check your local building regulations for specifics, but typically you will need planning permission if your catio is close to a boundary, is over 8 feet call, is in your front yard, or if your home is in a conservation area.
Does a Catio Need a Floor?
Whether your catio needs a floor depends on where it is built. If it is built directly onto grass, paving or a wooden deck then you won’t need to add an artificial floor. If it is built onto loose gravel, add a floor to protect your kitty’s paws. If the catio is sheltered then 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 that are 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 a humane option.
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 yourself, 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. If you aren’t good with manual work and you end up wasting 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 creators and are unlikely to willingly jump from a balcony. That doesn’t mean that balconies are safe – cats can make mistakes and accidents can also happen. You shouldn’t let your cat onto an unsecured balcony. Convert it into a catio balcony that is covered, so that your cat can’t accidentally jump or fall.
Are Catios Safe?
Catios are generally safe, provided they’ve been built to a high standard. Don’t allow your cat to use a catio that’s been built to a poor quality as it could collapse. Also, if you live somewhere with predators like coyotes, it needs to be extra secure. Remember that coyotes could dig under a catio, so make sure the floor is properly secured if that’s a risk where you live.