Catio culture for communal living
With increased horror stories on WhatsApp and Facebook groups of cats being stolen, many cat owners have taken to keeping their furkids indoors.
However, cats love to roam outside where they can breathe fresh air and experience the sights, sounds and stimulation of the natural world.
Of course, garden owners sometimes don’t enjoy the destruction cats cause to the fauna, yet another reason why some cat-people prefer their purrfect companions to stay indoors. Unlike dogs though, cats can’t be walked in a nearby park, and take a very dim view of being put on a leash or harness.
The creative solutions flat dwellers devised allow house cats to enjoy the outdoor air and sunlight in a custom made safe space.
Creative methods allowing cats to enjoy fresh air while living in cities has become a bit of a trend globally and the term “Catio” a combination of the words “cat” and “patio” was coined to describe these enclosed feline spaces.
In the suburbs, they sometimes take the form of a screened-in porch or deck rather than the cage-like window boxes it all started off with.
A small garden or patio can also serve as a perfect catio if you are able to secure it so the feline can’t escape into the big wide world.
Cats are notoriously difficult to keep from wandering. While dogs can be left in a fenced garden safely, cats aren’t as easily confined by fences and gates since they can navigate even the highest fence, and climb over walls by way of trees.
Local advice from an expert
You can probably find most of the things you need to build your own DIY catio at your local hardware or home improvement store. Check out the web for many free plans and tips on how to build these for your own cat. Or speak to people like the Animal Anti-Cuelty League’s Judi Gibson for tips on what works best. Their facility at Artesia Farm in Hammarsdale has a large outdoor area which is an enclosed cat haven, basically a large scale catio.
Judi knows cats and their proclivities very well working as closely as she does with a large range of feline rescue animals of all ages and running a luxury cat hotel to cater for cats when their families go away. “Cat enclosures are great to keep your cats safe, so often cats are stolen, or find are harmed while out wandering,” she said. Phone Judi on 031 7369093.
Web resource a mouse click away
A website dedicated to catio spaces (catiospaces.com) has plenty of examples and even plans to give you advice for building a catio in your own home. While it isn’t local to South Africa, it has resources with free tips to help anyone create the perfect catio for their feline friends.
One happy 11-year-old catio convert said her cat, Mars enjoys making a dash for the door because he likes to go outside “even though he’s not supposed to”. The cat-loving family were very relieved when they saw how happy Mars was in his safe and secure catio space which allowed him the enjoyment of the outdoors and all the stimulation it affords without putting the local wildlife, and his own life at risk. His catio was built off the side of the house and Mars is able to access it through the cat door several times a day, regardless of the weather.