Talking with cat lovers around the country, we hear a lot of opinions about the best way to care for our cats. We all agree our cats depend on us for their basic needs such as health, safety, and love. We were a little surprised, however, by the amount of cat lovers who believe that the best way to provide these basic kitty needs is by keeping them indoors. But cats are wild, athletic hunters that crave nature - is a totally indoor life really best for their health? We were also surprised how many cat owners believe that letting their cat roam outdoors is the true expression of proper cat care. Cats are smart, capable pets, no doubt, but between dogs, traffic, pesticides wild animals, and their own curiosity, our cats can get scared, lost, or worse, when alone in this great big world. One thing that all the cat lovers we speak with agree on is that they truly want what is best for their cats. So, is there a way to provide our precious kitties with the love and security of an indoor home, and the many benefits of nature, safely, at the same time?
We believe that both indoor-type, and outdoor-type cat lovers are correct, and Catios are the simple solution to the indoor/outdoor debate. Catios are a secure, outdoor space for your cat that gives cat parents the ability to provide their fur babies with the safety of the indoor world, and the freedom and adventure of the outdoor world. Catios are typically homemade and constructed of chicken wire and 2 x 4’s, others are more elaborate. Most range in size from compact window units, to walk-in, gazebo sized structures. Some mount into the window of your home allowing your cat to move freely between the great indoors, and the great outdoors. Some window mounted catios even contain a litter box, allowing you to move your pets litter outdoors! For the “less handy” cat lovers, some commercial ones are available, including window mounted enclosure that contain their own litter box. A quick Google search reveals a wide range of features, sizes, and prices from $300 to $4000.
Cat Lover and Writer/Blogger Melissa Lapierre, wrote a great blog article that we read on Canidae. In her article, Melissa lists five reasons your cat needs a catio:
-Savings through avoidance of injuries and vet bills
-Feline/human bonding in a healthier environment
-Tension reduction between multiple cats
Catios definitely provide these five advantages, and depending on the type, and if you mount it in a window, and has its own litter box, the list of advantages for you and your cat gets longer, and here are some examples:
Freeing up space.
If you live in a small space / apartment, moving the litter box outside free’s up valuable real estate in our bathrooms, closets, or laundry areas. Who doesn't need more space?
Dogs love eating cat litter.
We have a small dog who once loved getting into our cat’s litter box. We tried moving the litter box up to a high shelf, but the hassle and mess eventually became too much. That problem went away when we moved the litter box outside, safely contained in our enclosure. The best part is that, because the catio is window mounted, our cat can use the litter box whenever nature calls.
Toddlers WILL get into your kitty litter.
As gross as that sounds, yes, kids will find their way to the litter box and...well, let’s leave it there. And if there is something worse than your child eating cat poop, its your friend’s child who came over to play, eating your cat’s poop. Not only is this gross, kids getting into litter boxes can be very dangerous and prevention should be taken very seriously.
Move litter hassle, mess, and smell outside.
I have a question: who’s idea was it to have cat litter inside in the first place? As most things evolve, especially when systems evolve, they tend to start as difficult and undesirable, then evolve to easy and desirable. This has not been the case since 1947 when Edward Lowe invented indoor litter as a way to keep cats inside the house. Apparently before indoor litter all cats were outdoor only cats and indoor litter allowed indoor cats. With respect to Mr. Lowe, we feel he fixed the wrong problem. A better solution is to let our cats and their toilets stay outside, but only in a safe space. Our cats can move freely and safely from inside our homes to outside, whenever they need to go.
Switch to cheap, organic litter.
We’ve all heard of the potential negative health impacts of using clumping, fragrant, odor masking litter. Using organic litter helps but those products can be expensive. Sand is a wonderful cat litter because its cheap and cats love it. And if your litter sand is outside, odors are free to drift off into the open air, drying happens faster, and cleanup is a breeze. Other natural materials such as ashes, soil, sawdust, coffee grounds, or all of them mixed together also work well. Using natural litter materials is a great form of recycling, better for you and your cat, and will save lots of money.
We believe catios, cat enclosures, outdoor cat houses, window mounted litter boxes, or whatever you like to call them, offer a secure and healthy alternative to indoor-only cat care. For all the reasons mentioned above, we encourage all cat families to consider either building their own, or purchasing a commercial version. Either way, we think you’ll never go back to indoor litter.