Every cat lover wants to provide a stimulating, interesting life for their cat. Some people worry that it’s harmful to a cat’s well-being to keep him/her indoor only. However, letting a cat roam free outdoors carries all sorts of inherent dangers: traffic hazards, diseases and theft to name just a few.
How can we keep our cats both safe and stimulated simultaneously? One of the most exciting and useful trends for cat lovers is to create an outdoor space that is ideal for sharing with their feline friend. Known as a catio
or cat patio, this is the perfect spot to enjoy life with a cat safely and peacefully. It could be the start of a fantastic new stage in any cat’s life.
Experts from the University of Lincoln, UK, have investigated whether controlled outdoor access has any bearing on the happiness of our feline friends in a recent study. Findings showed that indoor cats who had access to a controlled outdoor environment showed improvement with maintenance behaviours which were associated with positive welfare.
When it comes to cat welfare, we always believe that the cat owner is in the best position to decide what is safe and sensible using their knowledge of their own cat and garden. However, it is always helpful to do your research before making decisions. Here we guide you through best practice for the usage of catios in UK gardens...
Can you leave a cat in a catio?
In a nutshell, the answer is no. A catio is usually exposed on three sides and the roof to nature's elements - wind, rain and sun. It would be unacceptable to leave a cat in this area without cover or shade for a prolonged period of time.
If your cat has a shelter or shade, access to food, water and a litter tray, then you could safely leave them in the catio, safe in the knowledge that they can exercise and enjoy the sunshine, without any worry that they get into trouble or hurt themselves.
Can you leave a cat in catio overnight?
If the cat's basic needs are met and the temperature is OK, you could leave your cat in a catio overnight, however, it is worth noting that nocturnal animals may be present in your garden overnight and it could cause major distress for your cat if a wild animal or neighbourhood cat were to visit and spray or cause conflict through the mesh.
The enclosure should be designed to provide enough space for cats to move around comfortably, and include features such as highly placed perches, vertical and horizontal scratching posts with different types of substrates, and plants that stimulate interest for your cat (such as oak and cat grasses, lavender, or fan palms). Always ensure a plant is not toxic to your cat before adding it to your catio, which should also be designed to allow easy access for humans to clean.
We would always advise that your catio is attached to your house so that your cat can roam between the two territories freely. This allows cats proper access at their choosing and also keep other cats and wildlife away.