As much as we might like to let our cats roam wild and free, many dangers are lurking in the outside world for felines. Traffic, other animals, poisons and even some diseases all can pose a threat to our fur babies. Yes, it’s a jungle out there! And as statistics tell us, indoor cats live a lot longer than their free-to-roam comrades.
So what do you do if you want your pet to enjoy a little outdoor time and still keep them safe? These days, many people opt for outdoor cat enclosures (also known as catios) to let their kitties enjoy the outside world without worrying about them getting into any trouble.
They come in a range of sizes and budgets to suit you and your feline’s needs. And many come with space for you to throw in a cat bed, toys, climbing poles and other creature comforts. So whether you have a big yard to play around in or just a little patio space to soak up the sun, there’s a catio that will suit your situation.
But Why Can’t I Just Let My Cat Roam Free?
But before we get into the nitty-gritty of all things cat enclosures, including our favorite cat enclosure options, let’s go over a few key facts regarding why you need one, starting with the most important of them all: it gives your indoor cat some outdoor playtime, fresh air and enrichment, but without letting them just roam free.
While some of us may have grown up with outdoor cats, or you may see outdoor cats roaming your neighborhood, more and more vets and other experts are telling us that letting your cat roam free can be both dangerous to your cat and the environment.
When roaming free, cats can be exposed to dangerous viruses and other illnesses, from rabies to the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Cats that run around outdoors are also exposed to pests like fleas and ticks. Other animals also pose a risk (and not just in causing physical harm to your pet; if your cat isn’t spayed or neutered, there’s the risk of pregnancy), as do people and cars.
There are also all sorts of seemingly innocent environmental items that can cause harm to cats. If your cat wanders into a neighbor’s yard and comes across some poisonous plants that look tasty, or some pest deterrent or poison, it can spell severe illness or even death for Mittens.
In addition to the threats that the outside world poses to your cat, your cat also poses a threat to the outside world. While you may think your kitty is perfectly sweet, they may be raising a ruckus when they troll the neighborhood, causing harm to other animals and killing wildlife. They could also be spreading harmful bacteria and diseases through their waste.
Thankfully, using a cat enclosure helps you avoid all of the above!
Other Benefits of Using a Cat Enclosure or Cat Patio
But there are even more reasons why you might want to buy a cat enclosure for your pet.
- Health Benefits: While an outdoor enclosure gives your cat outdoor access while mitigating health risks, it also provides some health benefits. If your cat is a little more sedentary, a cat enclosure can provide extra stimulation and exercise, preventing feline obesity.
- Mental Benefits: In most cases, a bored pet is a destructive pet. If your cat is struggling with behavioral issues — from damaging your home and furnishings to getting into fights with other pets in the household — they may just need more mental stimulation. A cat enclosure can give them this, allowing them to play and watch the outside world without risks. Additionally, if your cat is stressed because of increased activity in your home, the enclosure can give them a place to go, be alone and destress.
- Cuts Down on Stinky Smells: Not caring for the odors that come with a cat? If you feel like you just have one litter box too many and the smells are not exactly making for home sweet home, the outdoor enclosure will give you one more place to set up a litter box, and, with this one, the smells will stay outside.
Things to Look for in a Cat Enclosure
Have we convinced you yet that you need a cat enclosure ASAP? If you’re ready to start shopping, then here are some of the features and elements you might want to keep in mind as you’re browsing.
You want to ensure that your cat enclosure is large enough for the number of cats that will be using it. The recommended size for a cat enclosure is at least 6.5 square feet of space for each cat, not including any ramps, tunnels or extra features.
Some enclosures are free-standing, while some are designed to remain attached to an open, ground-level window (think a basement window) so that your cat can come and go as it pleases. Whatever design is best for your use, do take the actual look of the enclosure into consideration, especially if it’s going to remain in place for a long period of time. Preferably, you’d find an enclosure that’s not an eyesore, ruining your home’s curb appeal.
If you plan on moving the enclosure on occasion, or disassembling and reassembling it as needed, take a look at the enclosure’s dimensions and weight. You don’t want to be left struggling every time you need to move it.
If the enclosure is going to remain in place for a long period of time, take durability into account, too. You want something high quality and weatherproof that will stand up to all seasons.
Since cat enclosures come in all sorts of shapes and designs, consider the extra features that your cat might like the most based on their play habits.
Would they prefer glass or screen windows to either bask in the sun or take in the breeze? Would they want direct access to the grass, so they can prowl and hunt? What about a small area for holding toys or (non-food) treats like catnip? Or areas to climb, like shelves, cat trees and perches, or scratching posts?
Make the space a special hideaway for your favorite furry friend, and they’ll never want to leave.
The 13 Best Outdoor Cat Enclosures
And, now, without further ado, here are our 13 favorite outdoor cat enclosures.
1. Omlet Catio Outdoor Cat Enclosure (Good for Multi-Cat Homes)
Dimensions: 7’3” W x 7’3” L x 6’8” H
If you have both space and budget for it, this large enclosure from Omlet will give your cat or cats lots of free-standing room to play while they enjoy life in the great outdoors. And although it does not come with any platforms, you can easily add things like poles, scratching posts, catwalks, cat trees, cat beds or any other kitty toys and pet products they’d like with them outside.
This enclosure also features a stable style door which allows you to open the top and bottom part independently. The cage does not feature a shade or rain cover, but it can be purchased separately through Omlet.
One unique feature of this enclosure is that it’s extendable. So if your large cat needs more space, you can purchase compatible parts through the company to increase its size.
The one major drawback is the hefty price tag to this enclosure (which does not include a cover or platforms).
Extremely roomy, Extendable, Sturdy, Stable style cat door, Green color blends well with gardens
Pricey, Platforms and shade and rain covers are not included
2. Outback Jack Happy Habitat Cat Playpen Tent (Good Budget and Travel Choice)
Dimensions: 74” L x 63” W x 36” H
This well-reviewed cat tent by Outback Jack is an excellent option for cat owners on the go or on a budget. Made from UV-resistant fibers, the mesh is flexible yet resistant to your kitty’s claws and it comes with stakes to keep the tent in place.
It also comes with a convenient carrying bag for when you and your cat travel. Reviewers say that this cat tent is sturdy, roomy and easy to set up.
However, since the floor is made of mesh, some cat owners like to place a tarp down the bottom. And at about three and a half feet high, it will give your cat plenty of headspace but not tons of room for vertical jumps.
That being said, the pros far outweigh the slight drawbacks to this well-priced cat enclosure that’s super easy to take on the road.
Well-priced, Sturdy, Roomy, Easy to set up, Carrying bag
Less vertical space
3. Zampa Portable Pet Playpen (Good for Travel and Smaller Budgets)
Dimensions: 45” L x 45” W x 24” H
At a slightly lower price point and size is another portable playpen from Zampa. Made from durable and water-resistant materials, it also has protected seams and reinforced corners to keep your pet safe.
This playpen has two access doors and a zippable mesh top that will give your kitty a view of the sky. Other features include a water dispensing hole and water bottle holder, plus an outside pocket for convenient storage.
This playpen requires no assembly and easily pops up. It also comes with a carrying case for when you’re traveling. Reviewers seem very pleased with this enclosure overall though some claimed it was difficult to fold.
Good price point, Durable, Easy setup, Lightweight and Easy to travel with
Some people found it hard to fold
4. Amazon Basics 3-Tier Cat Cage (Good for Cat Owners with Limited Space)
Dimensions: 36” L x 22” W x 51” H
This Amazon Basics smaller cat enclosure is a good option for cat owners with limited outdoor space, like narrow patios or terraces.
Made from steel wire with a rust-resistant E-coat, it has three platforms for your cat to chill and watch the world go by. It also has an easy-to-clean plastic floor pan, secure-locking latch doors and even comes with wheels to make it super easy to move around.
Reviewers say that the cat condo cage is sturdy and easy to set up. Though its more diminutive size does limit jumping, this enclosure is a safe place for your small animals to enjoy some outdoor time with multi-tiered options.
Well-priced, Sturdy, Easy to set up and move around
Limited size for jumping and exercising
5. Outdoor Cat Play Tunnels: (Good Lightweight and Spacious Option)
This super fun and customizable play set is a feline dream come true. Great for indoor or outdoor, your cat will have plenty of space to run, play, and zoom. This play set is spacious enough for multiple cats to enjoy some fresh air without the fear of harming other animals. Don’t have room for something of this scale? The pieces come separately, so you can set it up however you like. Each set includes 1 square tent, 1 hexagon tent, 1 cone tent, 3 tunnels, 20 stakes and a carrying case.
One reviewer attached the first tube to a doggy door for added convenience.
Can be used indoor or outdoor, spacious, customizable, fun
Mesh material and zip opening may not be sturdy enough for all cats
6. Seny Outdoor Wooden Cat House (Good for an Aesthetic Appeal)
Dimensions: 32” D x 37” W x 37” H
Maybe you’re looking for an enclosure with both indoor and outdoor space for your fur baby. In that case, this cat wooden cat house may be just the thing. It’s made from spruce wood and wire mesh, giving it a cozy little house look.
It’s treated with waterproof protection on the roof shingles and the siding so it can withstand the outdoor elements, but also looks great indoors too.
Of course, at a little over 2 feet high, there’s not a ton of vertical space, and it is a tad pricey. But considering everything you get, this adorable little house may be worth it. Your cat will have a little loft to sunbathe from and then they can go down below for some shade and safety.
Indoor and outdoor space, Wood construction, Cute
Not very tall, Pricey
7. Encanto Outdoor Playpen (Good for Climbing Cats)
Dimensions: 71” L x 39.5” W x 71” H
This chicken-coop-meets-cat-enclosure from Wayfair is another option that offers both indoor and outdoor space for your feline friends. Made from solid wood and wire mesh, it also comes with six shelves to let your cat climb up to the top and settle into various perches.
Other features include two access doors and a water-resistant finish. This model also has a bit more vertical space for your cats to jump. Yes, it is a tad expensive, but this adorable little abode definitely has curb appeal!
Indoor and outdoor space, Solid wood construction, Six shelves, Aesthetic
8. Valencia Outdoor Playpen (Good for Smaller Cats)
Dimensions: 48.03” L x 24.8” W x 36.22” H
With a slightly smaller footprint, the Valencia Playpen is another option if you want indoor and outdoor space for your cat. Made from cedar wood and mesh wire, it has three access doors to reach your kitty.
The upper level has removable pull-out trays to make cleaning easier. This sturdy little structure is also finished with non-toxic paint to keep your pet safe and has a ramp-up to the second level.
Like similar wooden structures that offer indoor and outdoor space, the price tag is a little higher. But how cute are those little window boxes?
Indoor and outdoor space, Three access doors, Eco-friendly finish, Sturdy cedar construction
9. Cosper Outdoor Playpen (Good for Aesthetic Appeal and Bigger Budgets)
Dimensions: 27.56” L x 40.16” W x 72.24” H
This 6-foot tall model made from Canadian hemlock wood and metal mesh. It comes with three interior climbing platforms and a black asphalt roof to keep out the elements.
It also has two large access doors, and reviewers mention that it is relatively easy to put together.
You will pay a higher price for all that quality, but if your cat is a jumper, he may find this kitty highrise just purrfect.
Indoor/Outdoor space, Three platforms,two access doors, Solid wood construction
10. Chapin Kitty Catio Outdoor Playpen (Good for Multiple Cats)
Dimensions: 51.3” L x 42.8” W x 75.7” H
If you have multiple cats, a decent budget and insist on good style, this aesthetic Chapin cat playpen is for you. Made primarily of solid wood, it features six shelves for the kitties to lounge around.
The roof offers protection from sun and rain, and cream wood and metal mesh is easy to keep clean. Reviewers say that the assembly instructions are clear and easy to follow.
The one drawback seems to be the price, but in this case, it appears that you get what you pay for in this catio.
Solid wooden construction, Multiple levels, Six balcony shelves, Tool-free assembly, Aesthetic
Dimensions: 34″ L x 21.5″ H x 6.5″ W
The Outback Jack Kitty Compound Playhouse is the upgraded version of the playpen tent listed earlier. This outdoor cat enclosure has a tunnel attached for your feline friend. This is a great option for primarily indoor cats that you want to offer a safe outdoor space, but also be able to see them at any angle.
There is plenty of room for them to roam in the yard safely, take a nice nap or munch on some treats. Because this option is so portable it can be used as an outdoor catio or indoor catio and is super easy to put away with its handy carrying case.
Fun cat run and great for indoor and outdoor time
Mesh not as sturdy as other options
12. PawHut Large Pine Wooden Outdoor Cat House Enclosure (Good for Large Budgets and Large Spaces)
Dimensions: 77″L x 37.25″W x 68.75”H
This large outdoor cat enclosure might be on the pricier side, but you’re definitely getting what you pay for with this option available on Amazon. Looking a little like a chicken or rabbit coop, the enclosure features one extra-large, screened in space with a large cat run and multiple tiers.
An attached cat house features multiple landing areas where cats can get some shade and rest. A window allows you to look into the house, and a cat door allows you to reach inside the house if needed.
The house’s main body is made from pinewood, and the asphalt roof is weather resistant.
13. Kitty City Outdoor Mega Kit for Cats (Good for Travel and Versatility)
If you need a more portable option that you can assemble and disassemble with ease, and you want an enclosure that always provides something new and exciting for your cats, look no further. This mega kit for cats comes with a large, rectangular main house, but then extra parts are available for you to add cat tunnels and smaller rectangular houses in whatever configuration you like.
The main house includes cubes that cats can climb on and play in. All of the parts zip together when assembled, using zippers that cannot be unzipped from the inside (to account for that kitty who’s just too smart for his own good). Stakes are included to keep the lightweight, nylon mesh parts securely flat on the ground.
If you are looking to design and tackle making your own outdoor cat house, you’ll want to pick up a copy of Catio Building Tips for the DIYer. This book dives into the do’s and don’ts when it comes to building a high-quality outdoor cat patio.
From construction materials to build a custom outdoor cat cage to pro tips on catio spaces and providing your cat safe space for outdoor time, they cover it all.
Cat Enclosure: FAQs
Some of the above options caught your eye, but you’re still not entirely sure which is right for your feline friends? We’re answering your top questions about all things cat enclosures.
How big should a cat enclosure be?
A cat enclosure should offer enough room for all the cats in your home, at least 6.5 square feet of space for each cat that will be using it. This space requirement includes floor space only, not accounting for ramps, tunnels or similar features.
Can a cat escape from a cat enclosure?
A cat can only escape from a cat enclosure if there’s a hole large enough for them to squeeze through. For this reason, you’ll want to be sure that your cat enclosure is fully secured, with no gaps around the edges or bottom.
Can other animals get into my cat’s enclosure?
There are only two ways another animal might be able to make it into your cat enclosure: if they damage the enclosure or if they dig under the enclosure to get inside. To prevent this, be sure to purchase a very sturdy enclosure and prevent digging around the base by using concrete pavers or wire fencing around the perimeter.
Can you make a DIY cat enclosure?
Yes! If you’re a handy DIY-er, you can easily make a cat enclosure with a weekend and a little elbow grease. A simple search for DIY “catios” will bring up lots of DIY catio plans and tutorials for catio spaces. However, do note that this type of construction project can be time-consuming, and the materials can be costly. You may find that just purchasing a cat enclosure is a better option.
Conversely, if you DIY your cat enclosure, you can make it exactly how you like it. Some pet parents even choose to make oversized cat enclosures that can fit humans and a few chairs so that the whole family can enjoy the cat enclosure experience.
Tips for Using Your New Cat Enclosure or Catio
Once you have your new cat enclosure at home, assembled and ready to go, be sure to follow these tips for the best experience possible for your cat.
Don’t leave food or treats in the cat enclosure.
While you may think that leaving some food or treats in your new cat enclosure will warm Mittens up to their new space, refrain from doing so. You may inadvertently attract other pets or wild animals and pests to the enclosure. Even if you’ve properly secured the enclosure and you’re positive a large animal can’t break in, don’t underestimate the wily ways of a hungry raccoon, opossum or mouse, who can easily sneak in (or even reach a paw through a screen) to snag a snack, spreading disease in their wake.
Clean your cat enclosure regularly.
You don’t need to deep clean your cat enclosure every day, but clean it like you would any space in your home that your cat has access to. A little spritz of some pet-safe disinfectant cleaner and a quick rub down will keep your cat enclosure safe for the entire family while helping to avoid attracting wild animals or pets with the growing smell.
Keep an eye on your cat.
Even though your cat enclosure should be sturdy and well-built so as to prevent your cat from escaping, you won’t want to leave your cat in the cat enclosure full-time while you’re not at home or overnight. Whenever your pet has access to the outside world — even limited access like a cat enclosure offers — it’s important to keep an eye on them, just in case.
As you can see, the best cat catios come in every shape, size and budget range. And while they do offer protection from outside threats, it’s important to remember that they are not a cure-all when it comes to your cat’s safety. They can definitely offer you some peace of mind if you hanging out on your patio and want to include your kitty.
Never leave your pet unsupervised in the outdoors for long periods, and be sure that they have adequate food and water and that no feral cats can gain easy access. And, of course, adding some entertainment in the form of toys is always a plus.
That being said, catios are an excellent way for your kitty to have a lot of fun and get some fresh air while watching the world go by from the safety of her own tiny home. Your catio cat will pay you the rent in purrs and sandpaper kisses!
You might also be interested in: What Is Catnip [Explained] + The Best Catnip Toys For Cats
The 13 Best Outdoor Cat Enclosures:
- Omlet Catio Outdoor Cat Enclosure (Good for Multi-Cat Homes)
- Outback Jack Happy Habitat Cat Playpen Tent (Good Budget and Travel Choice)
- Zampa Portable Pet Playpen (Good for Travel and Smaller Budgets)
- Amazon Basics 3-Tier Cat Cage (Good for Cat Owners with Limited Space)
- Petsmatig Wire Cat Cage (Good for Small Spaces with a Larger Budget)
- Seny Outdoor Wooden Cat House (Good for an Aesthetic Appeal)
- Encanto Outdoor Playpen (Good for Climbing Cats)
- Valencia Outdoor Playpen (Good for Smaller Cats)
- Cosper Outdoor Playpen (Good for Aesthetic Appeal and Bigger Budgets)
- Chapin Kitty Catio Outdoor Playpen (Good for Multiple Cats and Homes with a Larger Budget)
- Outback Jack Kitty Compound Playhouse (Great for inside and outside)
- PawHut Large Pine Wooden Outdoor Cat House Enclosure (Good for Large Budgets and Large Spaces)
- Kitty City Outdoor Mega Kit for Cats (Good for Travel and Versatility)
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Sherry De Alba
Sherry is a freelance writer who worked as an actor before transitioning to an award-winner career in advertising. During a vacation to Mexico, she fell in love and never left. Sherry (aka Cherita) now spends her time bouncing between the US and Mexico writing, running, cooking, meditating and exploring lots of cool stuff on the other side of the wall.view post