All About the Catio: Keeping Cats Safe

Cat enclosures are increasingly popular way of keeping your cat safe while also protecting wildlife. Catios (or sometimes cat runs) are an all-in-one playpen and sanctuary for your pet made using cat netting around a wooden structure. Is your cat an indoor cat? Perhaps an enclosure is the solution you’ve been looking for to give them quality, outside time that’s free from harm.

What is a Catio?

A catio is a fun outdoor space that gives kitty the time to play, climb and sunbathe while safe from harm. Many people create catios on balconies, verandahs and on decks, or in backyards and other outdoor areas. Typically, they are made from netting that’s tailored to the specific needs of cats.

Are cat enclosures worth it?

When our friendly felines are not curled up in our laps, they’re often out hunting. Being hunters, they’re well known for having adventurous and independent tendencies.

Unlike dogs, cats will roam freely between different properties, climbing trees, and investigating. While this can be great fun for them, it means they can encounter rival cats, aggressive dogs, cars, bicycles, and be exposed to toxins and viruses.

Catios come with the peace of mind of knowing that your cat is safe from all dangers and stops them from wandering off.

Preserving wildlife

New Zealand is home to a wonderful range of unique birds and wildlife. None of them are used to predators such as cats. While the safety of our pet cats is paramount, we also owe it to the environment to protect wildlife from our pets. Outside, playful and prowling pets alike can do plenty of unintentional damage to native animals and other pets.

Thankfully, a cat enclosure keeps predator and prey apart.

Are catios good for cats?

Cat enclosures provide a safe and controlled outdoor environment for your cat. They allow your cat to enjoy the outdoors safely in a tailor-made environment full of fun things, such as climbing spaces, scratching branches, cat-safe plants and a litterbox.

Are catios harmful?

A lot of people think it’s cruel containing felines within a catio, but if it’s sufficiently large enough, it can only add to the space your cat has to enjoy within the home. If you are concerned your cat isn’t getting enough exercise, consider adding a cat exercise wheel.

Catios are relatively affordable to create from netting, and if you have the space, they can also be fairly big. Cat netting is super lightweight and highly durable. It’s fun for cats to climb and is pretty weather resistant.

Since cats often climb the netting in their enclosures, it’s important to do routine maintenance checks. Remember no holes, gaps or tears anywhere or you could find an empty catio!

Is it cheaper to build or buy?

If you’re all about DIY, then the more affordable catio route is to DIY using materials such as timber for the frame and cat safe netting for the walls. You may already have an indoor/outdoor space that’s part of your home you can adapt into a catio.

How to make a catio

  1. Choose the materials: polyethylene is the recommended cat netting material thanks to its durability, resistance to tearing and affordability.
  2. Measure and cut: measure the area you need to cover. Add a few extra centimetres to ensure you have enough netting. Use scissors or a utility knife to cut the netting to size.
  3. Secure the netting: attach the netting to the balcony or enclosure using wire, zip ties, or magnets. Be sure to fasten it securely, to prevent escapes.
  4. Check for gaps: regularly inspect the netting for holes or tears.
  5. Supervise initial exploration: once the cat netting’s securely in place, you can let your cat explore their new environment. Keep a close eye on them until they become accustomed to it.

How much does a catio cost?

The cost of a cat enclosure varies depending on the size, materials and labour. You can spend hundreds or thousands depending on whether you’re DIYing or calling in professional installers.

The wonderful thing is that you can totally tailor your cat’s enclosure to your budget, their needs and the environment. Plus you can always add an extension to your catio run down the line.

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About the reviewer of this page

This report was reviewed by Canstar Content Producer, Caitlin Bingham. Caitlin is an experienced writer whose passion for creativity led her to study communication and journalism. She began her career freelancing as a content writer, before joining the Canstar team.

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