It’s hard out here for a cat. Sure, they’ve got cushy homes with wet food and all the expensive toys they can ignore. (That toilet paper roll, though. Best toy.) But what about the great outdoors, man? How do they get that sweet stimulation and fresh air without worry about danger zones?

I’ve got an easy answer for you, though it might take some doing. It’s worth it though: what you need is a catio.

A catio is any exterior space attached to your home that allows your kitties to play in the sunshine and fresh air while keeping them safe within an enclosure. They can admirehunt birds or stalk squirrels for fun - and, most importantly, unsuccessfully, since your cats are contained. This means the local wildlife stays safe from your ferocious feline.

There is a beaucoup of catio styles, ranging from small and simple to large and luxurious. Take a quick tour with us on four different types below!


Window boxes aren’t just for plants anymore: you can grow happy cats there as well! These small catios are attached to your home outside your window and can be mounted either flush with window-level or just underneath. With sturdy supports and screened-in sides, you can add a cat bed for your kitty’s comfort. They can access the catio when you open your window, or through an installed cat door. (Make sure you get a lockable cat door.)

In summary: Got a window? Add a small catio and watch sunbathing felines appear!


Your cats can be the coolest in the neighborhood with a full-scale catio tailored just for them! These are larger screened enclosures, ranging from 3 or 4 feet wide to about 8 feet tall. You can install them outside one of your windows (or sliding glass door), giving your cats an entryway from your home. These catios accommodate multiple levels of fun, so you can put in perches and beds to provide climbing and napping areas at various heights. You can also add interesting flooring like grasses—this could even be a great space to grow cat grass for your kitty. (Talk with your vet before giving your cat access to any kind of plant.)

In summary: give your cats a space they can hang a sign that reads “CATZ ONLY, NO DOGZ ALLOWED.”


Large catio
Image: eileenmak via flickr

Go even bigger and create an oasis of delight for your feline buddy that’s big enough for you to chill alongside them! We’re talking screened enclosures that are at least 6 feet wide and 10 feet tall, so you can easily put a chair inside for your comfort. Go wild with a built-in climbing course for your cats, even more beds, and toys, and perhaps even faux tree branches for a jungle feel. I know y’all out there with house Panthers just perked up! (Remember: talk to your vet before giving your cat access to any plants.)

Honestly, some of you already have catios attached to your houses: they’re called enclosed porches. I know you thought your porch was for you, but it’s really not. You can have all the furniture on it you want, but it’s really your kitty’s enrichment space! They just let you use it.

In summary: have a porch? No, you don’t! It’s a catio!


Building a catio
Image: eileenmak via flickr

A cat run is like a catio with a purpose: you can install one from window to window in your home, or have one that runs from your home out to a free-standing enclosure. Whichever you go for, you’re adding interest to your cat’s outside space and basically installing encouragement for them to run and play. To create this hybrid catio/cat run, build your run with some screening; otherwise, you can use large tubing that’s either opaque or transparent. With screening, they get maximum amusement from local birds as well as fresh air. They’ll also have a tight space to feel protected in while still enjoying the outdoors.

In summary: life is like a box of cats, so let them run.

Catios sound amazing, right? They also make for great DIY projects—but, if you’re not handy with tools, you can still find tons of prefabricated catios to buy. (One of my favorite places is Catio Spaces, where you can purchase schematics or beautiful ready-made catios.)

Already have a catio? Planning on making one? We’d love to see pictures—especially of your happy cats!

Written by Deborah Brannon