Is a Catio Worth the Investment?

COVID-19 has disrupted lives all across America. As more people begin to take the viral spread seriously and batten down the hatches, outdoor cats have now had their play space limited to just the home. When cats dislike their humans’ decisions they can be pretty vocal about it. So, you have probably wondered if installing a catio might help both you and Mister Whiskers to preserve your sanity in quarantine.

Long before the coronavirus outbreak, many cat lovers flirted with the idea of installing a catio. Even indoor cats would love to curl up outside for a change and you get the peace of mind of knowing they’re still safe. But, is it worth the investment? Let’s find out!

How Much Does a Catio Cost?

Just like human-sized patios, catio costs vary. Some people build a small box outside the window for kitty to lounge on while others build an enclosed patio that even the humans can enjoy. So, instead of trying to calculate how much the catio will cost, take a look at your budget and any spare materials you may have around the house and start from there.

Some catios cost nothing but time because pet parents rely on their own skills and leftover materials from other builds. They might also be able to source materials from local carpenters. Others can cost thousands because people purchase readymade solutions and install them. Ideally, your build costs $500 or less.

What Are Some Good Catio Options?

People who are already handy builders or are willing to learn from YouTube videos and books have a lot of options available to them:

  • Use chicken wire or other sturdy material to enclose an existing patio or balcony.
  • Start with a pergola as a frame and then use additional wood and chicken wire to enclose it.
  • Build a hoisted up enclosure braced against the exterior wall for kitty to lounge in.
  • Build an elaborate outdoor playground where your cats can feel the grass beneath their paws.

If you are not a handy human, do not despair. There are readymade and affordable options for you to choose from. You can purchase the following items from $30 to $200:

The links above are just suggestions from Amazon so you know what to look for. You can also try Walmart, a local home improvement store, gardening store or pet store. If you are stuck at home on quarantine, buy from a store that delivers for a reasonable price.

How Do I Provide Access to the Catio?

Building or buying the catio is 90% of the work, but you still need to provide independent access. If you chose a small or light catio to put outside the window, you can bolt it to the exterior of the home. Be sure to check that the catio has enough support. Adding support from the ground up is a great way to play it safe.

If you built or bought a catio that stands tall enough to reach the window, you still want to ensure it stays put. The biggest perk of a catio tall enough to reach the window is that providing access only requires a cat door. That way, kitty can come and go without costing you heat in the winter and cool air in the summer.

When the catio is not as tall or does not have a convenient opening, you might need to get more creative. If the area outside is protected from the elements, you can attach and fasten collapsable play tunnels to the cat door and an opening in the catio. If the area is not protected, try using strips of wood for a bridge frame and then use chicken wire to enclose it.

If cutting a cat door out of your window sounds like a headache, cut a piece of wood just the right size to fit into the window when open. Make it tall enough to fit the cat door and paint or stain the wood to match your home decor. Then, install the cat door in the wood and place the wood in the window.

Is It Worth the Hassle?

Pets enjoy having a bigger world to explore, so they can breathe the fresh air: even if it’s just to watch the birds a little closer from outside the window. As long as you don’t go overboard with your build budget, this is definitely an investment worth making.

If your cat doesn’t get to feel the dirt beneath her feet, add some outdoor touches. Options include sticks, pieces of wood, cat-friendly plants and a bird feeder on the outside of the cage.

Are you an essential worker who has no choice but to leave your cat at home for extended periods of time? A catio certainly provides extra stimuli, but your cat may also need wet food, water or medication.

Contact Dog Gon’ Good Time for any questions you have about how we may help take care of your cats — and dogs! — while you’re away at work. You can use our contact form or call us directly at 781-780-4985.