How to turn your patio into a ‘Catio’ (Cat Patio)
If you’re looking for a smart way to keep your furry feline friend safe, a ‘catio’ can be the perfect solution. Whether you want to give your indoor cat a taste of outdoor life, or you want to create a secure haven for one that’s already an outdoor lover, patios can be turned into an enclosed cat friendly space for you and your pets to benefit from.
Cats need a safe environment protected from outside hazards. From busy freeways and roads, to cat cruelty, going missing and poisoning dangers and infections, it’s no secret that indoor cats live longer than those that roam outside. Thinking about turning your patio into a catio? Here are some essential tips to make sure the project is a success:
The benefits of a catio
Felines naturally want to be outdoors to experience the stimulation of fresh air and the sights, sounds and movement of the natural world. However, there are many outdoor hazards to be wary of. On average, an indoor cat will live 12-20 years, compared to an outdoor cat which has a life expectancy of only 1-5. Catios are designed to allow your feline friend to have the best of both worlds, without exposing them to the risks of outdoor roaming. They’re also fantastic for helping to protect wildlife, as felines are renowned for hunting birds and other prey.
Catios – a patio or screened-in porch intended for cats, are known to reduce vet bills because of the elimination of injuries and diseases, including getting hit by a car or attacked by a dog. They also encourage a healthy, outdoor lifestyle, which is known to increase the happiness of your feline companion; even if they’ve never set foot outside before. Catios are relatively inexpensive to build and make for a great summer project.
Define your catio’s purpose
Before you plan and budget for your catio, you need to determine its purpose. Will it be a simple hideout or an elaborate addition? Consider your outdoor space and how much time you intend your feline pal to spend in the catio. If they’re already an outdoor cat and you’re building a catio to keep them permanently safe, they will crave a bigger oasis. Think screened enclosures with built-in climbing, space for a bed and toys and even a few faux tree branches for a jungle feel. Catios can be ground-level of above-ground, depending on its purpose, budget and location.
For the simpler cat who prefers lounging around in doors, a basic open-air box with screening can be enough to thrill in the summer. Long enclosed walkways can encourage them to explore safely outside and create a simple summer hideout. Playscape equipment, like repurposing children’s play equipment can be put in the catio, along with regular cat furniture (towers and cat condos) and plants to craft the ultimate space. Make sure there’s plenty of shade too!
Building cat patios to the boundary
Local council regulations and build policies prevent pet owners building a catio to the boundary lines. However, there are easy ways to create the purfect cat patio without bending the rules. Patio designs can allow for patio posts to be built on the boundary, so that the space is opened from the fence to the patio, creating a large area for your feline friend to indulge in.
How to make your catio escape-proof
All cats are curious, and great climbers and jumpers, so the space will need to be screened at the top of the fence. This is a must! You can use wire, patio blinds or screens to build a safe enclosure for your cat, without worrying about them escaping.
Extra patio materials, such as steel, can be added to the patio so platforms are created for climbing and exercise. Using the patio build a part catio is a great way to keep your cat covered from the elements too and makes for a very secure enclosure.
Can my patio design be used as part of an animal run?
Yes! Any patio design can be used as part of an animal run. Flat patio designs tend to be the most popular option to convert into a catio, where the side of the home can be turned into a cat run for your feline friend to play in. A privacy screen can be added along the fence line attached to the patio posts to screen the run off. Cat runs can be custom made to suit any patio space too.
Introducing your cat to the catio
Once your catio is set up and safe, it’s time to watch your cat explore their new territory. Let your pet accumulate to the new area and discover at his own pace. This will include encouraging them to use the cat door if they haven’t before, to head out into the space on their own. Entice with catnip and familiar toys if they’re still unsure.
Author Bio: This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Great Aussie Patios – Perth’s leading patio builders with a unique design and cost-effective solution for any outdoor space and feline friend. You can catch her on Google+.