At Sault Ste. Marie Animal Clinic, we routinely recommend that cats be kept indoors for their own safety and well being. Cats that go out doors can become lost, get hit by a car, get in fights with other cats, pick up parasites, be exposed to rabies, eat something poisonous or even become prey to wildlife. In other words, cats that go outdoors unattended are at a much higher risk of becoming ill, injured or simply disappearing. Most cats adapt well to living indoors and are completely satisfied with their lives.
However, some owners would like to give their pets the opportunity to enjoy a little stimulation from the sights, sounds and smells of getting a little fresh air. This is where an outdoor enclosure or ‘Catio’ can be the perfect solution!
A ‘Catio’ can be anything from a manufactured window attachment to a home built enclosure of wire and other materials. Above and below are a couple of ‘Catios’ that our clients have made and we think they are awesome!
Here are a couple of suggestions for making a catio a safe and welcome addition to your cat’s lifestyle:
• Whether homemade or purchased, make sure the catio is strong enough and secure – with no holes for a cat to squeeze through. If they can get their head through an opening, they can usually squeeze the rest through!
• Use a harness or carrier if placing your cat in the catio involves the cat being carried outside – a frightened or startled cat can scratch or bite and leap from your arms in the blink of an eye
• Cats like multiple levels – they especially like being able to look down from a perch
• Provide shade and/or shelter from sun and rain and exposure to other animals. Cats often like to hide and a cat placed in an outdoor catio without shelter of some sort might end up feeling very vulnerable and exposed
• Make sure your cat has plenty of water while in the catio. Never leave food in an unattended catio as that might attract other cats, dogs or wildlife
• Do not leave your cat unsupervised in the catio – you should be nearby enough to hear or see if he or she is in any distress
• A cat should not be left outdoors at night – roaming wildlife or other cats could frighten your cat or even attempt to break IN to the catio
• Make sure your cats vaccinations are current and he or she is on a parasite preventive
• Not all cats will enjoy a catio – that’s ok! Just like some dogs prefer to stay home instead of going to the dog park, some cats will be happier indoors in their familiar environment – they should not be forced to go outside. It should only be used if the cat finds it an enjoyable experience.