Outdoor Balconies and “Catios” for Indoor Cats – what’s it all about?
Updated: Aug 1, 2019
About 10% of cats in the UK are indoor-only, and this percentage is rising. Many people are choosing to keep their cats indoors to keep them safe from road accidents or fights with other animals, infectious diseases, theft and straying.
Pedigree cat breeders often require new cat parents to sign a contract when purchasing a kitten, promising never to let the cat outside. While it's true that indoor cats may be safer than outdoor cats, the flip side is that indoor cats are more likely to suffer from behavioural problems, mental welfare issues, and obesity. In the last few years, we’ve noticed that cat blogs, magazines and welfare organisations have been sharing lots of ways to keep your indoor only cats entertained and happy.
In the US, the number of indoor cats is much higher at 70%. While there are a few more risks to cats in some parts of the US that we in the UK don’t suffer from (coyotes and bobcats!), the difference is largely a cultural one. In order to address the safety vs. boredom issue, many cat owners in the States have invested in “catios” or outdoor enclosures for their cats, and it’s this trend that inspired the outdoor balconies at our new luxury cat hotel.
An outdoor enclosure ensures your cats get the best of both worlds – a safe, secure, warm home to live in, and fresh air, sunshine, and all the stimulating sights and sounds of the outdoor environment. Catios can range in size from a window box, to a series of full height spaces linked by “catwalks” around the garden.
Once your catio is securely constructed, you can let your imagination (and your cats!) run wild by adding shelves, elevated walkways, rope bridges, hammocks, garden furniture and even water features. Don’t forget to include hiding places too. If you want to add some plants to your catio, check out Cats Protection’s list of poisonous garden plants first, so you know which ones to avoid!
The outdoor balconies we are creating at our new luxury cat hotel in Yorkshire are elevated to prevent guests from coming into contact with animals outside the cattery which might carry disease. They are also protected from the elements by the roof, so our guests can enjoy fresh air whatever the weather. And they all face south or east to catch the sun.
If you are inspired to find out more about this trend, there are lots of videos on YouTube of homemade enclosures, or take a look at these companies in the UK who manufacture them:
Don't forget to check with the council whether planning permission will be required!