The life expectancy for indoor cats is longer than that for outdoor cats. Your indoor cat just isn't exposed to the many hazards of outdoor life (e.g., weather, predators, disease, injury, etc.). The outdoor wildlife also isn't exposed to the predatory instinct of your cat when it's kept indoors.
The problem is that your indoor cat may be missing out on the benefits of the outdoors (e.g., fresh air, sunshine, exercise, stimulation, etc.). One way to safely give your indoor cat some outdoor time is with a cat enclosure.
Ideally, you already have a screened-in porch or balcony where your cat can enjoy the outdoor air. If you don't then you may want to look into building a catio (cat patio) or enclosure for your cat to enjoy.
You can have someone build it for you or if you're handy with tools you can build one yourself. You can find plans on the Internet or watch the many YouTube DIY videos for ideas.
If you go with having it built then you may be able to find someone in your area that specializes in catios. If you can't find someone who knows catios then you can find some plans on the Internet and hire a carpenter. Make sure they take care of the permits for you if needed.
Your going to have the costs of the materials whether you build it yourself or hire someone. You may also have to pay for the plans as well.
If you don't want to take on a DIY project yet have the skills to assemble prefabricated furniture then you can buy a ready-made cat enclosure from the Internet. These prefab cat enclosures are often manufactured by companies who also make chicken coops, rabbit hutches, and the like. Most are made of wood.Some important considerations when buying a prefab cat enclosure have to do with:
Will you place the enclosure away from the house or directly against it? If it's away from the house then you'll have to take your cat in and out of the enclosure yourself. If it's against the house then you may be able use an existing door or window that allows your cat to go in and out of the enclosure by itself. You can look for a cat door that fits your window or patio door.
What about the weather? If there's a lot of sunshine where you live then you might want to look for a shady spot to put the enclosure. To mitigate against the rain you could place the enclosure underneath a roof overhang on the house. You may also want to look for a location that provides a barrier to the wind if that's a problem.
Do you want your cat to have access to the ground or would you rather have the enclosure sit on a more solid surface like concrete or wood? If on ground, is there a chance your cat will dig its way out or another animal dig its way in? You may want to consider drainage. Water accumulating on the ground could make for muddy or soggy patches. Water could accumulate on concrete to create puddles. What about ground insects like fleas, ants, or termites?
Are you tight on space? Do you have to limit the enclosure to a certain size?
Is it just a place for your cat to sit or lay around or would you like multi-levels for climbing?
Do you want room to be able to sit in the enclosure with your cat?
What things will you put in there? Scratching post? Litter box? Water and food? Cat beds?
FeaturesHere are some features that may or not be included with a prefab cat enclosure.
Below are some popular variations of prefab cat enclosures.
This enclosure has a multi-level house built into it.
This enclosure is multi-level with perches and boxes built in.
This is an extra large enclosure with plenty of room for adding things your cat would enjoy and for sitting and hanging out with your cat.
This is a smaller cat enclosure that can be expanded in the future by buying another unit and combining the two. It also has wheels on the bottom.
Below is a video of how the unit arrives and is assembled.
If you live in an apartment or condo that has a small balcony or patio area then you may want to opt for a cat cage because of the smaller space limitations. Cat cages are narrow enough for these smaller spaces and vary primarily in height. They're usually made of metal, are easier to assemble and disassemble or collapse, and often have wheels.
If you want something less permanent and/or portable then you might consider cat tents. They're relatively easy to put up and take down and good if you want to set up something temporarily while in your backyard, camping, at a picnic, or at the park for example.
A tunnel is also available.
The tunnel can be attached to another catio or the tent below to provide more room for your cat or multiple cats.
How do I give my indoor cat an outdoor experience?