Saturday, January 20, 2018
Pets

The catio: when your indoor cat needs outdoor fun

What, cynics may ask, distinguishes a "catio" from a "screened-in porch"?

They clearly haven't seen the catwalks that wind around Dan Reeder's Seattle house and yard like a super-sized Habitrail with, as he wrote on his blog, "everything a cat could want in that place, including a catnip plant." It features night lights for nocturnal prowls by his feline, Max, as well as a heated bed.

Or consider the complex structure, with bridges and mazes with 20 levels, at the Monroe, Wash., home of Dennis "Cathouse Man" Gallagher. Or the elaborate enclosure in Lehigh Valley, Pa., about which Julia Konya acknowledged in a how-to post on her design blog: "I'm sure a lot of my neighbors thought that I had finally lost it."

The catio's moment in the sun — in shelter magazines, on social media feeds and even used on Craigslist — was probably inevitable. As the cats in our homes (35 percent of U.S. homes have them) slowly take over their interiors (pet industry figures say 74 percent of pet felines have scratching posts, while 25 percent have "kitty condos"), it's logical they would encroach on exterior spaces, too.

But for owners long shamed by vets and public service announcements urging that felines be kept inside, catios are a safe option for those desperately pining for the outdoors. And for bird lovers — cats' greatest critics — they're an appealing way to protect nature's feathered creatures. In several U.S. cities, bird and cat organizations are teaming up to promote the enclosures on guided "catio tours." Out West, the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon and the Portland Audubon Society will join forces Saturday for a fourth year.

But catios also are fantasy structures, like doll houses or dioramas, where creators can construct — and project — their own idealized worlds.

"I felt so bad about them never lying in the sun," Julia Konya wrote, "breathing the fresh air, watching birds, squirrels and butterflies."

When it came time to make a catio, Reeder wrote in an email: "My goals were pretty ambitious." And they continue to be. He recently extended a catwalk into a 200-square-foot space that had been his daughters' playhouse.

"I know it sounds paranoid, but we live in an earthquake zone here in Seattle, and we wanted a place away from the main house (in case it was damaged) where the cats could go and feel comfortable."

Too much? "For what it's worth," he acknowledged, "the cats would have been very happy with much less."

Ah, but would we?

 
Comments
Hernando Pet of the Week for Jan. 19

Hernando Pet of the Week for Jan. 19

Humane Society of the Nature CoastAce had a rough start to life. He’s on a mission to find a patient, committed home willing to help him adjust to a happy life. The shepherd mix is 8 months old, has one blue eye and a brindle coat. He has been neuter...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
American Kennel Club adds 2 breeds to roster

American Kennel Club adds 2 breeds to roster

NEW YORK — A spirited Dutch duck-luring dog and a friendly French rabbit hound are now running with the American Kennel Club’s pack. The club announced Wednesday that it’s recognizing the Nederlandse kooikerhondje and the grand basset griffon Vendeen...
Published: 01/10/18
Hernando Pet of the Week for Jan. 12

Hernando Pet of the Week for Jan. 12

Humane Society of the Nature CoastLilith is a sassy 7-year-old who can sometimes play hard to get. She is easily swayed by treats, and loves a warm lap and fuzzy mice. Lilith is spayed, vaccinated and microchipped. Inquiries about adopting Lilith or ...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/09/18
Hernando Pet of the Week for Jan. 5

Hernando Pet of the Week for Jan. 5

Humane Society of the Nature CoastCasper is a white, 11-month-old boxer mix. He has been neutered, microchipped and is current on his vaccinations. Inquiries about adopting Casper or other dogs and cats can be made at the Humane Society of the Nature...
Updated one month ago
Hernando Pet of the Week for Dec. 29

Hernando Pet of the Week for Dec. 29

Hernando County Animal ServicesTucker is a 66-pound, 5-year-old black flat-coated retriever. He was found as a stray in the reserve behind the Sterling Hills community in Spring Hill. Tucker is participating in the Heel to Heal program at Hernando Co...
Updated one month ago
Find A Friend: Toby, the Tiger Tabby

Find A Friend: Toby, the Tiger Tabby

Celebrate the new year with the cat in a hat! Others may have retired their Santa caps for the season, but Toby likes to take his time. The shy but playful 1-year-old lost his original family in an eviction, and shelter stress nearly did the tiger Ta...
Updated one month ago