Catios trend taking off

To protect cats and native wildlife

Cats are loved for their adventurous, independent natures, but they can be a real worry for pet parents when they venture into the unknown. Catios – cat enclosures often built on patios – are becoming a trend globally for keeping cats safe. 

Michelle Le Long, chief operating officer of PD Insurance, says that one of the pet insurance specialist’s most common claims is for injuries sustained in cat fights.

“Catios are ideal for bringing the outside in for your cat yet keeping them safe from other cats, dogs and humans,” she says. “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!”

Some catios are freestanding in the backyard, but others are bolted to exterior walls and allow access into the house through a window or door. Mesh caging is stretched over a wooden frame, and many have perspex rooves to keep them watertight. If you’re not DIY savvy, you can get a builder to help, or you can buy a prefabricated catio.

Many Kiwis love DIY though and building a catio is right up there as a fun project. Let your imagination run wild! With plenty of building advice and free downloadable designs on the internet, you can fully customise it. Create some catio excitement with ladders, tunnels, scratching posts, toys and hammocks, plus a human seating area so you can enjoy playtime.

Protecting your fur baby

Julie Leslie has owned many cats over the years and despite thinking they’d be safe on her farm, she’s lost too many cats to road traffic. “It’s been soul-destroying for my family,” she says. “Two years ago, I lost my Maine Coon cat when it was chased by a dog and run over on the road. I decided that any new kittens would be kept inside the house and in a catio. Our fur babies are part of the family and deserve to be safe.”

Containing your moggy in a catio is considered by some to be restrictive, but Leslie feels if it’s done right, there are no disadvantages. “If it is sufficiently large with plants, beds and scratching poles, they have the best of both worlds,” she explains. “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.”

Carolyn Murchison’s pedigree cats were purchased with a condition from their breeder that they be house cats only. “However, we felt we needed an outdoor space for their enjoyment,” she says. “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.”  

“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 provides visual stimulation, while keeping birdlife safe.

“In summer, everyone benefits. We’ll open the doors and windows in the house, while in the catio the cats sit on large stones in a paddling pool with tails draped in the water, keeping cool.”

Catios – a solution to protecting native wildlife

Sadly, it’s estimated that feral, stray and pet cats kill up to 100 million birds in New Zealand each year. Cats are a major predator of kiwi chicks and also eat eggs, lizards, invertebrates, frogs and other native wildlife.

Dr Imogen Bassett, Principal Advisor for Biosecurity at Auckland Council, says, “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.”

“And in fact the great thing about being a responsible cat owner is that it’s not just good for wildlife, but also good for your cat.”

Scientists have proven that cats who have adequate nutrition and entertainment hunt less. Making sure your cat has plenty of toys to play with and interactive games to keep them entertained is sure to lessen their boredom and need to roam.

Catios with interactive elements are a fantastic solution for this need and for protecting wildlife, so you’ll no longer have the heartbreak of finding dead native birds, mammals and reptiles on your doormat.


Media contact 

Leandri Smith – The Mail Room 
027 365 9003 | [email protected]