Wednesday, August 15, 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
Find A Friend: Paddington the Black Cat

Find A Friend: Paddington the Black Cat

Sweet! Friday (Aug. 17) is National Black Cat Appreciation Day. Love has no color, but Paddington and his black kitten siblings are all ready to celebrate. There are lots of reasons to adopt a black cat — and you’ll never need a lint brush during bla...
Published: 08/13/18
Hernando Pet of the Week for Aug. 17

Hernando Pet of the Week for Aug. 17

Hernando County Animal ServicesPhoenix is a red, male terrier mix and a volunteer favorite. He is participates in "Project Protege," a basic obedience training program, and is doing well. He loves to play and has settled into the routine at the shelt...
Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/14/18
Find A Friend: Norbert and Johannot, the tuxedo twins

Find A Friend: Norbert and Johannot, the tuxedo twins

Do back-to-school preparations leave you feeling like an empty nester? Let Norbert and Johannot fill your lonesome days and nights with their bonded-sibling salutations. These fluffy tuxedo twins (brother and sister) promise happiness, enthusiasm, a...
Published: 08/06/18
Find a Friend:

Find a Friend:

Moses the domestic short-haired kitten was a stranger in a strange land. He was rescued from the mean streets and truly appreciates life in the great indoors. Moses is only three months old but already possesses the most commanding eye-brow whiskers ...
Published: 08/03/18
Updated: 08/08/18
Find A Friend: Ralphie the mixed breed

Find A Friend: Ralphie the mixed breed

Ralphie doesn’t have a big head, it’s more like a jumbotron for his huge and welcoming smile. At just 50 pounds, Ralphie’s not exactly supersized, but he sure does light up a room. For Ralphie, the dog days of summer have become the season of hope. H...
Published: 08/01/18
Hernando Pet of the Week for Aug. 10

Hernando Pet of the Week for Aug. 10

Humane Society of the Nature CoastHarriet is a 1-year-old domestic short hair. She gets along well with dogs, but would prefer to be the only cat in the home. Harriet loves to talk and snuggle with her people, and is a very outgoing, lovable girl. In...
Published: 07/31/18
Updated: 08/07/18
Find A Friend: Toot Sweet the Calico cat

Find A Friend: Toot Sweet the Calico cat

Miss Toot Sweet is just too cute. This 4-month-old Calico kitten was rescued at just 4 weeks of age when she and her hungry litter mates were being given away at a famous coffee shop. Little Toot Sweet, the runt of the litter then, remains a tiny tot...
Updated one month ago
Hernando Pet of the Week for Aug. 3

Hernando Pet of the Week for Aug. 3

Hernando County Animal ServicesRemington is a stunning male German shepherd seized in Hernando County. He needs an experienced German shepherd rescue/handler and not a novice dog owner. Remington has shown some animal aggression at the shelter and ca...
Updated one month ago

Maybe the "dog days of summer" are so named for the summertime mishaps of humans that displace their pets. GiGi the dog counts many feline friends but finds herself in need of a single, stable home. The seasoned Boxer/Lab mix has excellent house habi...
Updated one month ago
Find A Friend: Clooney, the kitten

Find A Friend: Clooney, the kitten

Clooney the kitten doesn’t quite resemble the famous salt-and-pepper stud, but he sure has star power. Currently a "boy Friday," Clooney’s doing temp work in local foster care and has built a purr-fect resume to date. The single, orange Tabby is a so...
Updated one month ago