Some cats are unable to go outside on their own. While many felines enjoy the freedom of coming and going for a home, for others it is impractical. This can be for a variety of reasons: your cat might not be able to go outside because of where you live, or their health, or dangers outside. The good news is that your cat can still get the benefits of going outside even in these situations. It can be difficult to keep an entirely housebound cat both entertained and healthy. Catios and cat leashes both offer a way to let your indoor cat get some time outside safely.

Catios and Cat Leashes - Cat in a bacony catioCatios and cat leashes can be a great way for getting your cat some time outside. It is hard to keep an indoor cat entertained, even with plenty of activities. These options offer a safe and controlled way of interacting with the outside world. Walking a cat on a leash can be difficult. You will have to train your cat to properly use the leash. However, it will let your cat experience the smells and sensations of being free to roam outside. Cat leashes aren’t for every pet, some cats just won’t get along with walking tethered to you.

A catio can take a long time to build; it requires quite an investment in cat proofing an area. If you live in a place where it is possible to build a catio, it is worth trying this out to see how much use your cat will get from it. If you’re willing to put the work in, a catio can really improve your furry friend’s quality of life.

Should You Use Catios and Cat Leashes?

Catios and Cat Leashes - Cat on a leash

It is worth putting some time into deciding whether to use a catio or a cat leash. A cat leash requires a lot less time and work to try out. This makes it a better place to start. However, not every cat will enjoy being on a leash. Sometimes cats just don’t take to it. Since a leash is a much smaller investment, you should try this out before committing entirely to a catio. Even if your cat works well with a leash, a catio can provide even more time outside for them. This might help a lot with a cat who is home alone quite a bit. It will allow them to spend some time outside on their own. Catios and cat leashes aren’t mutually exclusive options, so you can use both if your cat enjoys them.

With a cat leash, you can walk your cat through populated areas that will let them experience the sensations of other animals and the wide world. This can give an indoor cat the kind of stimulation that no amount of toys can. It can also be a great way for you to bond with your cat. The experience can be fun for both of you if it is done right.

Some cats might not have much confidence when outside. If your cat has little experience being outside on its own, a cat leash can be a great way for it to build up a tolerance for this. It will take some time to train it to walk with a leash. However, if it is done right then it should build up your cat’s confidence with the outside world. After some time on a leash, your cat might be happy to go outside on its own.

How to Use a Cat Leash

Catios and Cat Leashes - Cat on a leash

Training a cat to use a leash can be difficult. Even if you use good training techniques, you can’t guarantee that a cat will take to using the leash. Catios and cat leashes aren’t suitable for every pet. If your cat doesn’t express any interest in walks, don’t try and force it on them. It is worth persevering long enough to give your cat enough time to decide if they like the experience.

The first step of training a cat to use a leash is to get them used to wearing the leash in general. Much like training a dog to walk on a leash, this means you’re going to have to start this training indoors. Attach the harness for your leash to your cat and leave it on them as they walk around the house. Allow them to live their normal life while wearing the harness, following this you can then add the leash. This will get them used to the feel of the leash and prevent them from being overwhelmed on their first walk.

Safety When Walking Your Cat

Once your cat is okay with wearing the leash, you can teach them about the lead being held. Hold the lead and walk around with your cat. Allow them to choose the direction, but get them used to the sensation of being tethered to you. Once you’re certain that your cat is happy with this set-up you can try taking them outside on the leash.

You need to keep your cat’s safety in mind while walking them on a leash. It is important that they can’t escape from the leash and have free reign outside. A cat that has not spent any time outdoors won’t be able to take care of themselves if they become lost. There are also other animals outside that can be a danger. Your normal dog walking route might seem like a good place to walk your cat, but you’re likely to run into unleashed dogs. Even dogs that are safe off a leash on a walk can easily scare cats. You should try and avoid areas full of unleashed or poorly trained dogs while you’re walking your cat. As long as you keep your cat’s safety in mind, walks on a leash can become a rewarding experience.

Giving Your Cat Some Time Outdoors with a Catio

Catios and Cat Leashes - cat in a catio near a swimming pool

Photo by @zombieite

Even if your cat doesn’t get along with wearing a leash or it is not possible to walk them frequently, they can still spend time outside. Out of catios and cat leashes, catios take more work but they can give your cat more freedom. Catios can be a great way to give your cat some time outside without compromising on safety. This is dependent on living in a place that would fit a catio. Not everyone’s house can really support one. You can set one up in a garden, or a balcony. However, if you can’t make major changes to these areas of your living space then a catio might not be for you. If you rent, you should consult with your letting agent before making a major change like this.

A catio can also help with some naughty behaviour in cats. If your cat is longing to get outside so much that they make a constant dash for the door, then a catio is a safe space for them to be outside without endangering themselves. It can give your cat the illusion of freedom without the dangers. Your cat will think that they have free reign outside of the home without you having to worry about their wellbeing. They will be satisfied with their cat-proof area and should lose that impulse to dart out of the door when you try to leave.

This can make catios a great tool for keeping curious cats happy and stimulated. Not all indoor cats are that way by their own choice. Sometimes it has more to do with the cat’s health or the area your cat lives in. Catios are a good solution to this problem.

Making a Catio

Catios and Cat Leashes - Cat in a balcony catio

Making a Catio takes some time. What type you can build will depend on the area where it will be. You can construct a large catio if you have a large space available. Equally, if you don’t have much space to work with a window box is still useful, but it can be done in a lot of different spaces. Each catio shares a few features. They are boxes with walls of a mesh material. This stops your cat from getting out but doesn’t restrict the flow of open air to them. They have the view and sensations of the outside without the possibility of them escaping. You should ensure the mesh material is safe for cats, and that you’ve constructed it in a secure way.

A window box catio is a solid box constructed outside of one of your windows. This box will have mesh on the sides of it so your cat will have a good open view of the area. These smaller boxes don’t have to be attached to the ground like a larger catio. This makes it very important that it is solidly attached to a wall to stop your cat from getting hurt. This has to be made securely if it is going above the first floor. Otherwise, your cat might fall and get hurt.Mishi pets - Window box catio

A bigger catio can be constructed in much the same way, but bigger. It will need solid guides to support the mesh and keep the area enclosed. The mesh should be strongly secured so your cat cannot rip it off. If it is not secure, your cat could get out of the catio fairly easily. Both types of catio will provide your cat with an outdoor space, but you can also provide other activities within the catio.

Being Safe with Catios and Cat Leashes

Mishi pets - Cat on a leash

Catios and cat leashes are both great ways to give your cat a space to play. A larger catio can contain objects for your cat to play with. This can be a cat tree or platforms. These give your cat an atmosphere that encourages exercise. These platforms can be a great way for an indoor cat to get some vigorous outdoor play in. A high platform will give them a good vantage point for the views of the outside world too.

Your catio should be built with your cat in mind. A catio for a kitten or young cat needs lots of things for a cat to play with, like platforms and toys. This can be a space that your cat can use to exercise and play. On the other hand, a catio for an older cat needs to be designed with them in mind. It should have ramps that prevent their mobility from becoming an issue. If your cat is too old for active play, then platforms from which they have a good view are going to be more useful than a climbing frame.

 

Catios and cat leashes are both great tools to get your cat some time outside. The extra stimulation will help keep your indoor cat happy and the exercise is great for their health. It is important to keep your cat’s safety in mind though. Catios need to be secure and well constructed. If there is a reason that your cat can’t be outside unsupervised, then a catio should reflect this. Similarly, while walking your cat on a leash their safety is your responsibility. You need to ensure they can’t escape from the leash. These can be great ways to give your cat more to do without them going outside unattended. If done properly, it can really enrich your cat’s life.