The Catio: Outdoor Enclosures For Your Cat

Does your cat sit for hours gazing out the window?

Mine does.

If your cat does the same, it’s a reminder that underneath all their domestication, cats are still wild animals.

They want to experience being outside. So, why not build them a place to do it.

What’s A Catio?

A catio is a “cat patio” or cat enclosure that allows your cat to be safe and enjoy the feeling of being outdoors.

Most of the time this is a safe, enclosed, outdoor space that allows your cat to enjoy the breeze, sunshine, and sounds of the outdoors all while safe.

Catios are the latest craze in the feline world! 

There may be a few different reasons why you would set up a catio for your cats: 

  • You live in a dangerous area – where it’s not safe for your cat to be outside, but you still want them to experience the outdoors
  • Your cat may have been lost before, and you feel uneasy about letting them out without supervision 
  • You have inside-only cats right now but are interested in doing so in a safe way where you can keep watch on them
  • You want to spoil your cat, giving them the absolute luxury of lounging in their very own back-yard oasis
outdoor cat enclosure catio
“Creative Commons Catio Complete #2” by eileenmak is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A catio can give your cat their very own window to the world.

There are many companies that now manufacture enclosures which can be attached or mounted to your window, giving your cat a taste of the outdoor life.

Cat patios can be attached to any window, ground level or higher.

Here are a few of the most popular ideas for a catio space:

  • Multi-storey enclosures (expanding upwards, could be on your back porch leading up to a window of your home for easy access)
  • Cat window catios (attaching a window box to your window to allow your cat to step outside)
  • Playpen-type catios (similar to a playpen for a child, this would be mobile and most likely a smaller confined space for your cat to laze in the sun)
  • Full back-yard type catios (including real nature in your catio, building around trees and bushes, etc)

There are some really nice cat enclosures and cat runs listed below, as well as some really awesome (and easy!) DIY ideas at the bottom of this post! 

Let’s take a look at some options that allow your cat to satisfy their curiosity of the outdoors while giving you the peace of mind that they’re safe.

kitten playing with flower in ground
What is this!?

Window Mounted Cat Enclosures

For people living in smaller houses or second/third floor apartments, a window mounted enclosure is perfect for giving your cat a panoramic view of the world around it.

Your cat can take in the outside world without facing any of the potential dangers.

Not only are there some amazing window boxes you can purchase, but there are also some really easy DIY ideas to create a window box yourself!

Outside Window Cat Boxes

The type of window box you will need depends largely on the size of your window and whether it opens side-to-side or up and down.

Window boxes are designed to be lightweight yet sturdy and can be painted or stained to match the surrounding environment, you don’t want to upset the local neighbors or residents association, do you?

Another useful feature in many commercially available cat window boxes is a Plexiglas front which enables the enclosure to be used all year round.

The Plexiglas also provides protection from UV rays to prevent the risk of skin cancer in your cats.

Larger window boxes usually feature some sort of entry method that uses vinyl strips to restrict airflow back into the home, but others may have a specialized cat-flap door which attaches to your house or the window.

Online specialists who make window boxes include:

Cats With An Attitude
Habitat Haven

These companies are only listed as resources, we do not endorse them, but we love them! We just want to provide you with the most information possible.
Check them out at your convenience!

Personally, I really like Cats With An Attitude (CWAA), because they offer a range of outside window boxes, and are given the adorable name “Kitty Peeper.”

The following YouTube video looks at some of their more popular models…

 

A DIY Window Cat Box

If you can’t find a cat window box that meets all your cat’s needs, you could always try building your own.  Although there are many companies which sell cat enclosure outdoor kits, a window box enclosure can be quite easy to make from scratch.

This way you can install extra shelves, built in cat scratch posts, use some cedar wood planks or flooring, and add other comfort features to keep your cat amused.

The video below is a good a starting place when building your own cat window box!

 

You can find more interesting DIY Catio box ideas here: 

Cat Window Patio.

If you live in a house with a larger backyard, a cat window patio can be a larger structure attached to your window.  You can expand up to another level of your home, or down to the ground to allow your cat to have access to grass and plants. 

Unlike the window boxes, patios have more area for your cat to play in!

The size of a cat patio ranges…

You could have a multi-story enclosure attached to your window with climbing posts and ladders for more fun and exercise for the cat.

Or it could be something even bigger, like a covered play-pen that starts at the window but extends into the garden using tunnels and passageways.

The only limits are your imagination, the space available, and your budget.

By attaching a simple entry like the Window Pet Door from Ideal Pet Products, almost any cat enclosure can become a window attached patio.

With a door like this, there will be no need to carry your poor kitty out of the house and put her in the playpen anymore, she can simply choose when she wants to go outside herself.

With the window box idea, you can go really simple (such as just a box outside your window) OR you can do something a little bigger (okay, a lot bigger) like THIS. 

This is a window box that leads to an entire outdoor cat enclosure in the backyard – how fun!!!!

The Best Un-Attached Catio Enclosures

If you have a spacious backyard or are looking for something that doesn’t attach to your home (and is maybe even mobile) – look no further. 

Here’s a list of some of the best catios and cat enclosures to create a true backyard oasis for your kitties. 

Prevue Pet Products Premium/Deluxe Cat Home.

Our Rating: 🏠🏠🏠🏠🏠  (5/5)

The Prevue Pet Products Premium/Deluxe Cat Home is one of my favorite catios – and it doesn’t break the bank!

Made from a rust-resistant heavy-duty aluminum, it’s a cage-like multi-level design with a paw friendly construction for even the smallest of kittens.

It comes with two hammocks, lockable shelves, and is large enough to hold several cats with ease.

With a mobile design, it could even be used indoors and out.

Reviews for this cat enclosure are through the roof, with most claiming it’s the perfect little cat pen. 

TRIXIE Pet Products Outdoor Cat Run.

Our Rating: 🏠🏠🏠🏠 (4/5)

The Trixie Pet Products Outdoor Cat Run is a more premium option for allowing your cat to enjoy the outside world.

With weather treated fir wood, it provides an extra retreat for cats who may be less adventurous or just want some shelter.

Although it features wooden hatches enabling you to mount it freely in the garden, these could be easily modified to fit a cat-flap style attachment like the Window Pet Door from Ideal Pet products that we looked at earlier.

According to reviews over on Amazon, the only problem with this catio is the instructions…  with quite a few reviews saying that the instructions aren’t very easy to follow.

However, finding a Youtube video that details a setup and installation of this product is an easy fix for that:

 

Reviewers are raving about the quality and price point for this little catio!

Nala and Company Portable Pet Enclosure.

Our Rating: 🏠🏠🏠 (3/5)

The Nala and Company Portable Pet Enclosure is a portable outdoor cat enclosure like this one from enables you to take your cat with you when you visit friends or travel.

Easy to assemble, it is a wonderful pop-up tent. (We all know how much cats love tents!)

This tent is a cost-effective way of bringing your cat with you wherever you go.  It’s also pretty useful for after vet visits when your drowsy cat wants to wander about but shouldn’t.

While this enclosure isn’t large enough for play, it’s perfect for travel and lazing about!

According to reviews, people love this pet enclosure for more of a “relaxing” kind of situation for your cat (laying around on your porch or something to take with you if you’re traveling with your cat). 

Topeakmart 4-Tier Foldable Cat Home Cage

Our Rating: 🏠🏠🏠🏠  (4/5)

This Topeakmart 4 Tier Foldable Cat Home caught my eye – and I just had to tell you about it. 

 I almost didn’t add it to this list, because it is quite literally a smaller version of the very first catio idea we mentioned (The Prevue Pet Products Premium/Deluxe Cat Homebut it really is worth mentioning!!!

With 4 doors, 3 metal ladders and lots of space to add hammocks or comfy blankets, this is ideal for the beginner catio owner.

Mounted on wheels for easy mobility, you can plant this anywhere in your yard (or roll it around to different locations each morning to give your cats a fresh new view!)

What I liked most about this one is the price point:

It’s quite a bit cheaper than the other cat enclosure options on this list, but still offers quite a lot of room for your cats to explore and laze around!

DIY Cat Patio Enclosures

Building your own catio is where you can let your imagination run away with you.

You can do something small, or you can do something extravagant, like Serena’s garden getaway video.

This video below shows a catio made from an IKEA shelf:

 

This is absolutely swoon-worthy – what a lucky kitty. 

Why not build your cat something all the other kitties will be jealous of?

You can buy many outdoor enclosure kits or modules, but it is much more fun to design your own and can be more cost effective.

(Not to mention you can completely customize it to your cat’s liking!!)

A good resource to help in the design and construction of your luxury catio can be found here.

Below are some other great ideas on how to create your very own little outdoor space for your kitties: 

  • DIY Catio With Netting 
    This is made with something similar to cat netting, more information on netting at the bottom of this page!
  • DIY Catio with Wiring 
    This is made with something similar to a chicken wire – a bit more sturdy than the netting. When doing something like this, we suggest adding carpet, as your cat could potentially hurt themselves on the sharp ends of the wiring. 
  • DIY Catio on A Budget (under $100)
    This kind of budget catio is great for beginners or people who aren’t really sure if their cat would even like the outdoor time, this is a great way to introduce them to the outdoors without buying a cat enclosure or spending a lot of money making one. 

cat sitting on perch in green nature

Related Questions…

Let’s talk about this some more!

I’ve followed up with some of Google’s most frequently asked questions on the topic of catios/cat enclosures. 

🏠 What is a Catio for cats? 

A Catio can be anything from a window box to a complete back-yard enclosure but the most important thing about a catio is that it is an enclosed space for your cat.

The idea behind a catio is to allow your cat safe and supervised access to the outdoors. 

🏠 What is cat netting? 

Cat netting is a net material specifically used in creating cat tents, catios and other cat enclosures.

Creating your catio with cat netting helps ensure your cat cannot escape from the area, it’s completely safe for them (they can’t get hurt by it, as some wire material may cut them) and it’s very durable. 

🏠 What is a cat fence? Should I use cat netting or cat fencing for my catio?

Cat fencing is another material specifically designed with your cat in mind – because this type of fencing has a kind of pivoted arched top (patented to cat fencing) that won’t allow your cat to hop over the fence and escape. 

To decide which material you want to use in your cat enclosure, you need to ask yourself a few questions…

  • Where will my catio be? If you have a catio that is attached to your home, you may want to go for something a little stronger, like cat fencing. 
  • Will my cat attempt to escape? If you trust your cat will not attempt to escape, using something softer like the cat netting may be a better idea. 
  • Is my cat prone to scratching, clawing things? If so, you may want to go with cat fencing. Cat netting is durable, but it’s still netting and could eventually be clawed out of. 

Whichever type of catio you decide on for your feline friend, they will be excited to safely play and laze about in the outside world!

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