What To Use In An Outdoor Cat Enclosure

December 5, 2020 // 13 minute read

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The outdoors offer your cat a different type of freedom compared to when they are indoors. There’s no limit to where they can explore. They can freely run or climb when outdoors, which means they also get enough exercise.

However, due to the cat’s curious personality, the outdoors can also be very dangerous. Outside, they are at a significant risk of catching an infection, getting chased by a predator, or eating something poisonous. They might also stray too far, which might cause them to get into an accident.

Because of this, cat owners have found a way to protect their cats by creating a cat patio or a catio. This way, you’ll be able to make some sort of boundary between where your cat should be and where they can go.

In this article, we’ll share how you can make an outdoor cat enclosure and what materials you can use to create one.

What To Use In An Outdoor Cat Enclosure

Why Your Cat Needs an Outdoor Cat Enclosure

Outdoor cat enclosures, also called cat patio or catio, is a place outdoors where you can leave your cats to run around without any danger or risks. Below, we enumerate several benefits of having an outdoor cat enclosure:

Keeps Your Cats Safe

This is probably the number one goal why you would need an outdoor cat enclosure. There are lots of dangers that your cat may face outdoors, and this includes:

  • Vehicles: There’s a possibility your cat will chase something near the road and be hit by a car.
  • Other animals: Cats are small, which makes them a good target by other animals like a dog. They might also encounter a snake by the bushes or even another cat just passing by. This may lead to a fight, which may cause your cat to be injured.
  • People: Whether we like it or not, not all humans are good with animals. There are those who enjoy hurting little animals that can’t fight them. Your cat might also get stolen, and we don’t really know what these people do to them once they do that.
  • Getting Poisoned: As cats are very curious creatures, they might consume anything poisonous such as plants and pesticides.
  • Contracting Diseases: Another danger your cats may face is contracting contagious diseases from the environment or other animals they’ve met.

The best way to prevent all these from happening is when you place your cat inside an outdoor enclosure. This way, no one can touch them there.

Reduce Vet Bills

Since you’re making sure that your cat is protected, there’s less risk of injury or disease. This also means that you don’t have to worry about bringing your cat to the vet for treatment. So, instead of worrying about your vet bills, you should save up to build or buy your cat an outdoor enclosure to reduce your stress throughout.

Protect Birds and WildLife

Besides protecting your cat, you will also be protecting birds and wildlife from your cat. Cats can be quite the hunters, and if given the opportunity, they will chase whatever interests them. And the usual targets are birds. By putting your cat in an enclosure, you’ll prevent birds from getting near them.

Provides Your Cat A Healthy Lifestyle

When indoors, sometimes, all your cat can do is watch the birds flying or people passing by through the window. They can also do climbing or running, but the space is limited.

On the other hand, the outdoors provide them free space to run around but within a safe boundary. Added to that, they get full access to the sun and fresh air. It’s the perfect way to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Improves Relationship with your Neighbors

Cats are lovable pets. But we are also aware that not everyone will agree with this, and that may include your neighbors. When your neighbor sees your cat in their yard, causing problems such as using their garden as a potty spot, it will not create a healthy relationship between you and them. But you can prevent any feuds by making sure your cat stays on your lawn.

Peace of Mind

With all these problems solved by an outdoor cat enclosure, we can say that it’s enough to give you peace of mind. You won’t get stressed thinking about your cat getting lost, stolen, injured, killing a bird, or going into your neighbors. You can spend your day chilling and relaxed outdoors without having to keep a thorough eye on your cat because you know they won’t be going anywhere.

Types of Outdoor Enclosures

As you can see, having an outdoor cat enclosure is essential, not only for your cat but also for you. So, if you’re planning to build or buy your cat one, you should be aware of what kind to make or get. Below are some types of outdoor cat enclosures you can check out:

Window Catio

First is the Window Catio. As the name implies, this is an outdoor cat enclosure that you install outside a window. These are usually made with metal or wooden frames, then covered with any strong netting material.

With a window catio, your cat can go in and out of the window whenever they want. This makes the window watching more fun for them as they feel more involved with their environment.

Balcony Catio

Next is the Balcony Catio. This is the perfect outdoor cat enclosure for those living in apartment buildings. Think about it; balconies are definitely not the safest place for cats. Yes, they may be prone climbers, but there are still possibilities of them making the wrong step.

So, you can cat-proof your balconies by creating a balcony catio. You can do this by creating a whole structure to cover your whole balcony and putting a net, so your cat doesn’t go over it. This way, there is no risk of falling every time they’re at the balcony. You can also put some activity toys here to provide them better outdoor enrichment.

Porch Catio

A Porch Catio is an outdoor cat enclosure built on your porch area where you and your cat can spend time together. It can be built using wood, steel, and metal covered with a netted material. You can then put some plants, couches, and chairs, so it’s the perfect place to chill and relax.

Cat Runs, Cat Tents, and Playpens

If you don’t want to DIY, you can also go for cat runs or playpens. These are usually foldable that you can store away easily when not in use. At the same time, you can just take it outside and unfold so your cat can enjoy the outdoors.

The only concern with these enclosures is they can be a bit smaller than what you can DIY. But they are pretty convenient and are certainly a great choice for those on a budget.

Free-Standing Cat Patio

A Free-Standing Cat patio is an outdoor cat enclosure located quite a few steps away from your house. This means they’re not connected to any part of your home. They’re also not portable and are permanently built there.

These cat enclosures are usually made through DIY and are large. You can even make it with a cat tunnel that connects to your home to provide easy access for your cat.

How to Make An Outdoor Cat Enclosure

You can certainly be as creative as you can get in planning your outdoor cat enclosure. However, just take note of the following:

Consider the Location

Before you even start building your cat patio, you should first consider where you will put it. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Foundation: If you’re installing a cat patio, you must ensure that you build it in a place with a strong foundation. This means the ground is not too soft, not flooded, not cracked, and other things might affect the construction.
  • Ease of Access: Next, you should consider a location that’s easily accessible to your cat. This means they can go there whenever they want without you needing to bring them there. You can build a catio connected to your porch, window, cat door, or any area to your home that your cat usually goes to whenever he wants to visit the outdoors.
  • Sunlight and Shade: Make sure that the catio has a balance between the sunlight and shade. These are probably two of the most important things to consider. Cats love the sunlight, and it’s best to find a place that can give them a great sunbath. But, too much sun is also not healthy, so there should be a place to get a shade when they get too tired napping under the sun.
  • View: Next, try to consider what view your cat would see on the chosen location. It’s important that the area would be able to provide your cat with enough entertainment to keep her healthy and happy. She should be able to see birds, people walking by, dogs running, vehicles passing, and more things that will stimulate them.

Choosing the best location that will provide all these is crucial. Why? Because if your cat doesn’t like the location, she might not use it, and you would have wasted your energy.

Consider the Style and Size

Next, you should consider the style and size. We have already enumerated above the different outdoor cat enclosures you can make – from small box enclosures to large sanctuary types. But to choose the best option out of all these, try to consider the following:

  • Your Space: Think about how much outdoor space you can provide for an outdoor cat enclosure. If it’s small, you can create a multi-tiered cat enclosure, so your cat has a lot of room to explore. This way, she can also do lots of climbing.

But if you have a large space, you can utilize this to create more room for her to run around. Place a few climbing posts there or build a platform inside, too.

  • The Number of Cats You Have: If you have multiple cats, it’s really best to build a larger outdoor cat enclosure, so they have a lot of room to play in. At the same time, you’re staying away from any possible fights between your cats.

If you only have a single cat, then maybe a window catio would do. But of course, you would also need to consider if you’re planning to get more cats in the future.

  • You Cat’s Lifestyle: Lastly, you should consider what your cats like. Do they like climbing and jumping, or are they nappers? Do they love being in tight places or being out in the open? Do they love playing with toys? Do they love sunbathing?

By answering these questions, you’ll get an idea of what your cat loves. After that, try to incorporate this information into the cat enclosure you’re building.

Materials to Use

Now that you have decided on your location, size, and style, the next thing you should look at is the materials you’re going to use for the outdoor cat enclosure. Here are the essential parts to remember and some recommended materials to use:

  • Frame: For the frame, you can use mood, metal, or steel. Anything that is sturdy enough and would withstand any weather conditions.
  • Roof: Some use wire mesh and clear polycarbonate as a roofing material. This is because they can provide breathability and as well as don’t block the sunlight. Others use asphalt for a sturdier option that would withstand strong weather conditions.
  • Floor: Some cat owners just prefer having the natural ground or grass as floor to the cat patio. But, if you want to somehow prevent your cat’s toes from getting too dirty, you can install pavers, bricks, wood, or flagstones as the enclosure flooring.
  • Cover: For the cover, you should always go for something breathable. The safest choice would be a fencing wire or vinyl-coated wire so that it’s sturdy and, thus, won’t allow your cat to escape.
  • Shelves and Perches: These are optional but are nice to have. These are additional play areas for your cat, especially if they’re very active. You can use wood for these while also putting a soft fabric on the perches for a much-relaxing nap.

Choosing the best materials for your cat enclosure will help ensure its quality. It would be best if you choose weather-proof, rot-proof, and rust-proof materials so that it will last longer.

What to Put Inside The Outdoor Cat Enclosure

Now that you’ve built an outdoor cat enclosure, it doesn’t stop there. If possible, try to put a few accessories inside that your cat would need and enjoy. Here are a few:

  • Scratching Post: If your cat loves to scratch and the floor isn’t really made for scratching, you can put a scratching post inside. This way, they become more pleased with their new haven as it gives their claws great satisfaction.

Scratching Post in Outdoor Cat Enclosure

  • Treats: Place a toy that can dispense treats for your cat. Get your cat to exercise and have fun at the same time by motivating them through food.
  • Dangling Toys: As cats are naturally curious, they would love to have a toy hanging around to reach with their paws.
  • Water: As much as they love food, they would also love it if you make sure that they have water inside.
  • Litter Box: Make sure to keep the cat enclosure clean and odor-free by providing a litter box inside. This way, your cat can spend hours inside the enclosure without needing to stop themselves from the need to go potty.
  • Boxes: If your cats love putting themselves in a box, why not place one inside your cat enclosure, right?

You can put anything inside the outdoor cat enclosure. The best way to decide on this is to really know what your cat loves and put them there.


An outdoor cat enclosure is essential for us cat owners. So, if you’re planning to build one, review the guide above, and see the best materials you can use. This way, you’ll be able to create the perfect enclosure for your cat. But, if you don’t have the time to do-it-yourself, that’s totally fine. You can check out a few of the best ready-made outdoor cat enclosures on our page instead.

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