Cat Proof Balcony for Keeping Cats Indoors Permanently
I love my cats dearly but they also annoy me SO much sometimes. They wake me up every morning begging for food and they knock everything off the counter and shelf if I ignore them. Charlie also bullies Nala and they’re always fighting.
A part of the problem is I live in a small one-bedroom apartment, and my cats get easily bored and therefore turn to food and Charlie especially tends to redirect his aggression toward Nala.
Although I’ve put in my best efforts to give my cats stimulation and other solutions for cat boredom, it’s not enough. So, I researched building a cat proof balcony, so that my cats can get more stimulation and leave ME alone.
For this post, I had the opportunity to partner with Custom Catios, an amazing company in Southern California building custom outdoor cat enclosures. They’ve even built custom catios for the show, Cat vs Dog on Animal Planet with Jackson Galaxy!
Alan (aka Catio Guy), the founder of Custom Catios, answered all the questions for a beginner considering catios. So, if you’re in the market for one, you can learn about it below and see if it’s right for you.
I hope you find this helpful!
Keeping Cats Indoors Permanently
Among cat experts and cat lovers alike, the consensus is to keep cats indoors permanently.
As Alan explains, predators (coyotes), cars, disease, and poisons, among other perils, all conspire to knock more than a decade off an average roaming cat’s life.
The average lifespan of a domestic indoor cat is 17 years while outdoor cats statistically live less than five years.
Unfortunately, keeping cats indoors also poses health risks. Lack of stimulation and exercise can lead to obesity and behavioral issues, including over grooming, over eating, picking on companion pets, and self-mutilation.
You can walk your cat on a leash if you have access to a quiet streets and a nearby park. But this also comes with its own set of problems, including cats picking up fleas from grass or getting into fights with dogs and other cats.
Catios are the great compromise that enable cats to enjoy the outdoors safely.
Like me and so many cat experts, Alan believes that cats should not be free to roam outside.
As Alan puts it, “I do understand the need for outdoor working cats that help deter rodent populations on barns and the like.” That said, to borrow Jackson Galaxy’s words, “I want cats to be indoors because I want them to live.”
Benefits of Cat Proof Balcony, aka Catios
What is a catio? A catio is literally a cat patio. More generally, it refers to any enclosure that enables pet cats to experience the outdoors without the inherent dangers associated with roaming.
Alan built his first catio in 2006 after adopting two cats, Monkey and Cooper. When they first brought them home, they were in an 8th floor one bedroom apartment.
Unfortunately, Monkey and Cooper were not instant companions and the limited space led to fierce confrontations. That sounds awfully familiar!
Alan built an outdoor enclosure on the balcony where the cats loved to sunbathe, watch birds and breathe fresh air.
After moving to a bigger place, Alan built a multi-level enclosure with vertical shelving and added plush beds and a covered litter spot. And, not only did the cats absolutely love it, the catio was built to match the house so that it wasn’t an eyesore!
More importantly, catios protect cats and extend their lives. The increased stimulation from wildlife, sounds, and smells lead to happier feline family members.
Catios also protect the environment from cats, one of the most invasive species on the planet, responsible for killing more than 2 billion birds annually in the United States alone.
And again, human cat parents rave about the outdoor litter box and improved sleep. I need this right now!
What is a Catio Made out of?
Custom Catios custom make all enclosures, so materials are partially determined by client preference and budget.
Generally, however, they frame a redwood structure and attach wire mesh. They encourage clients to install a pet door through the house wall or utilize a window so that cats can come and go as they please.
They also install shelves, ramps, and floor to ceiling sisal rope poles so cats can get plenty of exercise.
How Big Should a Catio be?
Alan advises that it really depends on the number of cats.
“But, I am always steering clients away from extra large enclosures. Vertical space is far more important to cats than square footage.”
That’s a great tip from Alan. “A typical enclosure for less than 5 cats might be 10’ high x 8′ long x 4’ wide.”
Are Catios Weatherproof?
Yes. Redwood is an extremely durable wood that holds up well in weather. The mesh is galvanized which prevents rusting.
In addition, Custom Catios builds extremely strong and durable structures that can withstand coyotes, raccoons, and inclement weather.
As such, they do attach 2”x4″s and 4”x4″s to the house and ground.
However, removing an enclosure and patching damaged areas is fairly easy and inexpensive.
How Much Does a Typical Catio Cost?
Prices vary because enclosures are custom designed for specific locations and to client preferences.
But, the range has been about $1,900 to $35,000. However, the most common catios fall in the $4,000 – $7,000 range.
How About Apartment Balcony Netting for Pets?
Custom Catios has constructed balcony enclosures for apartments, like this one in Santa Monica. After a beautiful cat named Lando survived a fall from the ledge of an 8-story balcony, Custom Catios was called in to prevent a potentially catastrophic recurrence.
It can be difficult to get management or HOA approval, but Alan advises that Custom Catios is happy to build them.
Here is a helpful blog post that Alan wrote on how to get HOA approval.
How Can People Get Their Own Custom Catio?
If you live in Los Angeles, Orange County, or the surrounding areas, contact Custom Catios through their website at CustomCatios.com to set up a consultation.
Otherwise, there are a handful of pretty good prefab catio companies on the internet that can be found via a Google search.
I know that I would definitely want a professional to build one for me rather than DIY it myself.
As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I will be driving back across the country back to the west coast.
Once I settle into an apartment, I will document my journey of building a custom catio through Custom Catios and share with you all here. Stay tuned and thanks Alan for your very helpful advice!