Cat Enclosures

Mandy Gardner
Catio
Catio

Cat enclosures can help keep your feline companions happy, healthy and safe. Whether your enclosure is indoors or outdoors, it should be constructed from sturdy materials, and offer plenty of space for your cat to stretch, stand, walk and sit comfortably.

Outdoor Cat Enclosures

There are three basic types of outdoor cat enclosures, any of which can help turn an indoor cat into a happier, healthier, more playful kitty. Choosing the best enclosure for your cat depends on the space you have to work with. Generally speaking, as long as your kitty has access to fresh air and sunshine and she can walk around and stretch her legs in a safe spot full of all the beautiful smells of nature, your cat enclosure has fulfilled its purpose.

Catio

A "catio" is a popular, modern cat enclosure that is usually installed within an existing patio or balcony. A common DIY project for many cat owners, the catio is essentially a screened porch in which indoor cats can spend some time in the fresh air. This is a great way to give your kitties anywhere from 50 to 150 square feet of outside space.

Creating a Catio

To create a catio, wrap chicken wire around a wooden patio frame and fix it in place with construction staples. Keep the wire on the door frame free so that you can still open and close it as necessary. If you wish to turn a balcony space into an upper-level catio, the same method applies, minus the door frame.

Pros and Cons

Catios are inexpensive and easy to install in many homes, however, they are not always a good option for rental spaces.

Window Enclosures

Cat owners that live in small apartments or do not have the space to build an enclosure in a large outdoor space may opt for a window enclosure. These are very diverse structures, often built by hand with materials such as chicken wire, nylon screen, aluminum, or wire storage cubes. You can use pre-made designs to build a cat window box, which makes the process easily customizable and less expensive.

Buying Window Enclosures

You can purchase professional window enclosure kits through several retailers as well, such as Cats With An Altitude and Habitat Haven. Window enclosures range from simple window boxes where your cat can sit in one-foot square screened porch, to vast expanses that are 100 square feet in size.

Pros and Cons

These are usually inexpensive and great in tiny spaces. However, they do not offer much room for running around.

Free-Standing Outdoor Enclosures

Kittywalk cat enclosure
Kittwalk cat enclosure

One of the simplest ways to help your cat spend time outside is with a free-standing enclosure. Designed and sold by many suppliers, such as Catnets.com and Kittywalk Systems, this type of cat enclosure gives your pet 30 or more square feet of space with very little effort. In effect, a free-standing enclosure is very similar to a large kennel, except that it is easy for the cat to see through the enclosure in all directions thanks to mesh steel or nylon walls.

Pros and Cons

Assembling the kits is straight forward generally very easy, making ease-of-use a prime advantage. In addition, they are versatile and can usually be moved around the yard or from one home to the next as needed.

The only downside to this type of enclosure is that you will need to put your cat in and out of the enclosure instead of letting him decide when to go out and how long to stay.

Indoor Cat Enclosure

Animal shelters and animal rescue workers frequently use indoor enclosures to keep several cats safe and separate from one another inside a building. Indoor enclosures like those manufactured by the Mason Company can generally accommodate one to three cats and are designed to meet guidelines written by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.

This type of enclosure features wheels for ease of movement and about 15 to 30 square feet of interior space. The thick steel cage bars are strong but well-spaced so that it is easy to see in and out of the structure. Within the enclosure you will be able to install several shelves where the cats can sit, eat and sleep, keeping their litter box on the interior floor.

Pros and Cons

This type of design is indispensable for rescue situations or emergency indoor containment because it is easy to set up and use. However, it's not a long-term solution as a cat abode.

Keeping Your Cat Safe and Healthy

Keeping your cat indoors is an important part of helping him to live a long and healthy life. As a loving pet parent, it's your job to keep your kitty simultaneously safe and happy. Incorporating a cat enclosure into your cat's daily living space will add a special element to his quality of life, no matter which type of enclosure you choose.

Cat Enclosures