Guest blog by Alan Breslauer (Catio Guy)
Health and Safety
Allowing house cats to roam freely outside is a dangerous proposition. Disease, fights, poison, abuse, and especially cars and coyotes, all conspire to take years off the lives of our feline family members. On average, indoor cats live more than 3x longer than roaming cats (17 years to less than 5 years). An extra decade of companionship would seem to make indoor only living a no-brainer.
However, relegating furballs to the indoors is also problematic. As bestselling cat author Pam Johnson-Bennett warns, under-stimulated house cats can lead to “boredom-related or stress-relieving behaviors, such as overgrooming, chewing inappropriate items, picking on companion pets, retreating into isolation, self-mutilation, compulsive behavior, and loss of appetite.” As such, many cat lovers question whether it is fair to keep cats inside fulltime.
Cat guardians all over the world are addressing this dilemma by building catios (cat patios) for their furry loved ones. Catios are protected enclosures, usually attached to a house, that enable cats to experience the outdoors safely. Jackson Galaxy calls catios “the great compromise.” They “allow cats to have access to fresh air and sunshine, to see birds and bugs, and to experience a little bit of what comes with outdoor living.”
The added daily stimulation catios provide undoubtedly results in happier cats. As such, it’s not surprising that the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), the organization that sets the standards for feline care, concurs with Galaxy: “indoor/outdoor living for cats in an environment that is safe is the best option for pet cats. Whenever possible, an outdoor enclosure is preferred.”
While the health and safety of pets is paramount, below are three additional benefits to investing in a catio.
While cats have a well-deserved reputation for being nocturnal – think of all the times you were awakened in the middle of the night by a cat bop to the head, a scratchily licked chin, or cat zoomies –- they are actually crepuscular animals. Meaning, cats are most active at dusk and dawn.
Either way, it is unsurprising that 53% of pet owners say animals disturb their sleep. One common solution sure to lead to hours and hours of manipulative crying is to close the bedroom door with the cat(s) on the other side. A catio, on the other hand, provides endless night and dawn stimulation that will keep cats occupied and less reliant on their hoomans for play and attention. In other words, a catio is a ticket to better sleep.
Outdoor Litter Box
Certainly one major advantage to living with cats is that they handle their own business. However, this does come at a steep cost in that litter boxes smell terrible and produce dust that tends to permeate throughout the house and sticks to clothes. Is there anything more annoying than heading to dinner with friends smelling like a litter box?
Once again, a catio solves this problem. Not only will your house and clothes be free of litter dust and smell, but cats actually prefer going to the bathroom outside. In other words, it’s a win-win situation.
Protect the Environment
Not only do catios provide cats with great bird watching, they help protect the birds too! Cats are natural predators and pose a serious threat to wildlife if let outdoors. By some estimates, cats kill more than 2.4 billion birds and 6 billion small animals annually in the United States. An outdoor cat enclosure, which keeps house cats safely confined, helps keep both cats and wildlife safe! A double win for animals.
In conclusion, a catio will extend your cat’s life, improve your life, and save the lives of countless birds and small animals. And cats love them!
Alan Breslauer, AKA @CatioGuy on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, is a catio evangelist and the owner of the Los Angeles based Custom Catios. He will be leading a free webinar on catios for Pasadena Humane on Wednesday, March 31st . Register here.