Cats can be a real worry for pet parents when they venture into the unknown, and keeping cats safe is a new global trend; Catios, cat enclosures often built on patios.
“Catios are ideal for bringing the outside in for your cat yet keeping them safe from other cats, dogs and humans,” said Michelle Le Long, COO of PD Insurance. “And by not allowing your cat to roam the neighbourhood, you needn’t worry about them being stolen, run over by a car or having a litter of unwanted kittens.”
Catios can be freestanding in the backyard or bolted to exterior walls, allowing access to the house through a window or door. Mesh caging stretches over a wooden frame; many have perspex rooves to keep them watertight.
“If it is sufficiently large with plants, beds and scratching poles, they have the best of both worlds. You can put natural timber logs in for them to climb and scratch, cat-friendly plants for them to enjoy, towers and ramps for them to climb on, and cat exercise wheels if you’re concerned they’re not getting enough exercise,” said the cat owner, Julie Leslie who has lost cats to road traffic.
“I found a Facebook group called ‘NZ Safe Cats – Catios and Cat Fencing’. Having larger breed cats, I didn’t think fencing would contain them, so a catio was the perfect option,” said another pedigree cat mom, Carolyn Murchison.
“Proof of them loving their catio is that they wait by the laundry door when they want to go out. As well as the physical stimulation of them being able to climb and jump about, a bird bath and feeder close to the catio provide visual stimulation while keeping birdlife safe.
Catios are also a solution to protecting native wildlife since stray and pet cats kill up to 100 million birds in New Zealand each year. Cats are predators of kiwi chicks and eat eggs, lizards, invertebrates, frogs and other native wildlife.
“Although we need to protect our native species from other threats such as possums and stoats, cat owners do have an important role to play in helping protect New Zealand’s wildlife from one of the many threats they face,” said Dr Imogen Bassett, Principal Advisor for Biosecurity at Auckland Council.
Scientists have proven that cats who have adequate nutrition and entertainment hunt less. Ensuring that cats have plenty of toys and interactive games reduces boredom, and catios with interactive elements are a great solution to protect wildlife.
Us Kiwis love DIY, and building a catio is a fun project that can be fully customised with free downloadable designs on the internet and fun stuff like ladders, tunnels, scratching posts, toys and hammocks, plus a human seating area.