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Cat resting safely inside the catio. Photo Courtesy Alison Gottlieb BS, CVT, VTS(ECC)

Q: What is a catio?

A:  The outside world is not the safest place for an indoor cat, despite what they tell you. Most veterinarians recommend keeping cats indoors for their protection. The outdoor dangers are plentiful: cars, predators, fights with other cats and wild animals, and various diseases they may encounter. The neighbor’s garden may look like a giant litter box to a cat, but that neighbor may disagree. Local wildlife may fall victim to feline hunting as well.

Although cats may be better off observing from the window to keep peace and safety in your neighborhood, some may prefer to explore the great outdoors. They may run out the door, push out screens in windows, and generally make it known they prefer to be out in the sun. Their minds and bodies enjoy the mental and physical stimulation of being outside. A great solution to keep them safe yet let them enjoy the outdoor reinforcement is to create a catio.

A catio is an enclosed area outside that allows a cat to enjoy nature safely. Often located on a patio or deck, cats can access them from a window or sliding door. There are many options for the home architecture and budget. They can be purchased as online kits, installed by a professional, or created from scratch. Simply enclosing a patio or balcony to keep the cat contained can often be the easiest route to let them outside safely. Perches can be installed to improve vantage points, and cat-friendly plants such as wheatgrass and catnip can be grown in accessible containers.

Cats should always have access to fresh water, shade, and the ability to get in from the elements. Consider providing a litterbox in the enclosure so they can eliminate if needed. This should be brought inside and cleaned daily. If giving food or treats in the catio, remove any leftovers to minimize mice, flies, and other pests. Speak with your veterinarian about parasite preventatives and vaccines if cats now have outdoor access.

Four cats in “catio” attached to outside window.


2 cats, one inside, one outside catio