A catio is any outdoor cat enclosure that houses cats and kittens. The term refers to patio + cat, so cute right?
Most catios are connected to the cat owner’s home, although it is not necessarily the case for all catios.
Some cat enclosures are free standing in the backyard of someone’s house.
Catios come in all shapes, sizes and heights. Even though a catio can be a luxurious house for your pet, it doesn’t have to be gigantic, or even big. It can be a window catio or a balcony pen.
With all the styles comes a variety of sizes too!
So what size should a cat enclosure be? This post explores the size recommendations of catios and answers the question, how big should a catio be?
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Although catios and outdoor pet enclosures come in all different sizes, there are some guidelines that will help you determine how big of space your feline will need in order to be comfortable in her pen.
When I was designing the Kritter Kondo, an outdoor cat enclosure for indoor felines; I found that 2’W x 4.5’L x 2’H was the absolute smallest I wanted to go for a full grown adult cat. This gave the average pet enough space to sit comfortably, get up and turn around and even stretch out a little.
It seems to me, this would be a good size for the smallest window catio a person might want to go. It could also be much bigger than this. This one on our blog post Building Your Cat A Window Catio For Less Than $100 is 21” x 72” and looks like a small to medium size enclosure.
This beautiful window catio designed and built by The Cattopia has plenty of space for one cat and is considered a small enclosure. You can see this feline has plenty of space to stand up, turn around and lay down.
Although this Instagram photo does not mention exact dimensions, the builder did say the cost is $1,200.
Some window catios are tall and have enough space for two, three and even four cats. It all depends on how much space you have and how much your budget can afford.
Window Catio Creations has a pawsitvely fabulous double decker window unit and they can’t help but show it on Instagram; who can blame them!
This mint green is pretty fantastic; I love how they have a cat tree right in the middle too.
There are several things to take into consideration when determining the size of your catio.
Answering these questions can be a good way to put together the ideal size for you and your cats.
I put together this table for you to refer to after you read this post. It can be a useful directory in obtaining all the catio information you need, plus more.
Considerations When Determining The Size Of Your Catio
- How Much Space You Have
- How Many Cats
- City or Building Code Requirements
- Landlord or HOA Limitation
- Weight Restrictions
- DIY or Hiring a Builder
- Sun Exposure
- Water and Electricity Hook-Ups
How Much Space You Have
This sounds like a no brainer but honestly it can be the most difficult to identify. When you are building your furry friend a new catio, you will want to know how much space you have to work with. The space you are working with may not be the exact measurements of the catio either. Be sure to take into consideration all dimensions (height, width and length) plus any angle that might cut-off some prime catio real estate. Measure, measure, measure. Doing this ahead of time and keeping notes will be very helpful as you start the journey of building an outdoor cat enclosure.
How Many Cats
How many cats will you have? I believe a 2’x4’ enclosure is the smallest I would go for one average sized kitty cat, or two small cats. Determine your minimum space per cat, then multiply by the number of cats it will hold to get the dimensions of a one floor catio.
If you are going to build a vertical one and have a few floors with cat shelves as seating you will be able to use the length of your catio as your height.
In this case, you will want to use total sq ft to get an estimate of how much space you need per kitty cat.
City or Building Code Requirements
If you know my Kritter Kondo story, you know the reason I was motivated to design outdoor cat enclosures for my fur babies had to do with building code restrictions.
Every city is different so be sure to look into the requirements specific to your area.
The last thing you want to do is get started on building and get a hefty fine for going outside the guidelines your city has implemented.
Even worse, they make you take it down, after all the work you put into building it!
Your city or building codes might only allow for certain size enclosures, and that could greatly impact the size of your catio!
Landlord or HOA Limitations
Along the same lines as city code regulations, you will want to check your lease or association paperwork. If you are a home owner, your home owner association paperwork should have everything spelled out including what you can build and what you cannot build. You will also want to check any guidelines about structures in your yard, or on the side of your home. This can be totally different than city building requirements, so be sure to read over everything thoroughly.
If you rent an apartment or home, chances are you will be limited to a balcony catio or outdoor enclosure especially if you live in a building.
Something like netting can be wrapped around your balcony to keep your kitty from jumping out (especially baby kittens, they can be a handful!)
If you rent a home from someone, you will want to check your lease and also do a little research on city codes. Your landlord might have overlooked something like a catio in your lease guidelines so be sure to do your own research too.
Before you start shopping and building, establishing a spending budget will help minimize unnecessary costs during the process. Identifying how much you want to spend on materials, labor and any incidentals can also be a great goal to work towards if you need to save up first.
Weight restrictions are especially important for balcony catio designs and enclosures along the side of your home, with no ground support. Make sure your walls, balconies and any other flooring or ground structure will be able to support all the kitties, the catio and and other pressure (like snow) the catio design might need to support.
DIY or Hire A Builder
If you are hiring a builder, the size outdoor cat enclosure you choose might be bigger than if you build a DIY catio with a kit or standard plans you buy. A builder might be able to offer catio design ideas that are custom to your liking whereas DIY plans are standard sizes and designs.
The number one reason people build catios for their pets is to give the cats a safe place to enjoy fresh air and sunshine. Before deciding on the size of your new catio design, be sure to notice if your fur baby will be able to soak up sun puddles. In addition, you may not want your cats to be exposed to direct sunlight all day. Considering the placement can impact the space needed. You may want to add shade canopies which could impact the height space needed.
Water or Electricity Hook-Ups
This might not be a big consideration, but it is important enough I wanted to include it. If you want to put a water fountain (that needs a plug-in), lights, or anything else that needs electricity or water you may want to position the catio near an energy source. This could effect the space you have to work with.
The Last Purr: Summary
There are lots of catio design ideas in the outdoor cat enclosure umbrella. Things effecting what size you will want include what style catio you want. Will you build a DIY small catio, a window catio, hire a catio builder or use catio plans? These will all effect the size of your catio. Knowing what space you have and ensuring you do not have any code regulations will also be key in identifying before picking your dimensions.
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The smallest catio I would want would be a 2’x4’ and this would likely be an outdoor cat enclosure or a window unit. From that minimum, the sky is the limit!
Catio design ideas include tunnels, enclosures, window enclosures, patio and balcony catios, attached to the home and of course free-standing catios.
Until next time,
Head butts and purrs!
Why Is Kritter Kommunity Your Trusted Pet Partner?
Lisa Illman is the Founder of Kritter Kommunity, LLC. She has a tuxedo male adult cat currently and she has had him since he was a baby kitten; so Lisa knows well the kitten lifecycle, the teenage cat lifecycle and the adult cat lifecycle (he is currently 11 years old). Prior to her cat Finnegan, Lisa had two FIV positive cats for a decade. They inspired Lisa to invent a cat enclosure so they could safely sit outside and enjoy fresh air and sunshine. She brought the product to market and eventually designed a line of portable catios; they sold on Amazon, Skymall Catalogue, Wayfair and countless other websites. Her experience being a cat parent coupled with her business development and product management experience make her a trusted cat enthusiast partner. She and Finnegan (her cat) test, research and review pet products to give readers the best feedback possible.
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