New Brunswick

A patio for your cat: Why a Fredericton woman decided to build a 'catio' for her 5 cats

As the weather warms, some indoor cats might be itching to get outdoors. And now they can do that safely thanks to a new trend that's made its way to Fredericton. 

'I never have to worry about them being harmed and that's really important to me'

Melody the cat enjoys the sunshine in a catio made just for her and four other house cats. (Sarah Morin/CBC)

As the weather warms, some indoor cats might be itching to get outdoors. And now they can do that safely thanks to a new trend that's made its way to Fredericton. 

Catios, or cat patios, are a compromise for cat owners, like Suzanne Prior, who want to keep their felines safe indoors and allow them to spend time outside.

"It seemed kind of the best of both worlds," said Prior, who lives in Fredericton.

"We often say it's the best renovation we did because it's used so much and we enjoy watching them in there."

Suzanne Prior's catio on Churchill Row in Fredericton just outside her mudroom window. (Sarah Morin/CBC)

Prior stumbled on a post about catios a couple years ago and decided she'd hire a family friend to build one for her five feline friends — Jezel, Lucy, Isabelle, Melody and Annie.

Prior's catio features wooden perches, ramps and a tall climbing post with an area for the animals to take a cat nap. It cost around $1,000 to build.

But catios aren't just fun spaces for cats to play and nap. They can also protect kitties from the outside world.

"I never have to worry about them being harmed and that's really important to me."

Melody has been spending the past few weeks relaxing atop a perch in her catio. (Sarah Morin/CBC)

Gabrielle Hough, chair of the Fredericton chapter of Cat Rescue Maritimes in Fredericton, said catios provide cats with "a little taste of the outdoors" while keeping them safe.

Offering the 'outdoor experience' 

"It's horrific when your cats get hit and are either injured or killed," Hough said.

"We see it all the time, so a catio, it offers the outdoor space, the outdoor experience and the complete safety."

Hough said her organization once treated an outdoor cat that accidentally drank antifreeze because it was the only non-frozen liquid it could find in winter.

Gabrielle Hough (left) and Suzanne Prior work for the Fredericton chapter of Cat Rescue Maritimes. (Sarah Morin/CBC)

"A catio … keeps it safe from things like that as well. It's not just predators and cars. There are other dangers out there for them."

The cat rescue group built its first catio for the Oromocto SPCA last year, sparking interest from other New Brunswick cat owners.

Catios are all the rage 

Hough said her group has been inundated with requests to build catios since they advertised them on their Facebook page.  

Annie, another one of Prior's five cats, spends most of her time in the catio. (Sarah Morin/CBC)

The group's catios are built by Dean Little, who constructs them at his home and brings them to the pet owners.

"It's been going like wildfire since we started putting it on social media."

Hough said they've built about six catios since last spring. Catios can only be constructed during the warmer months, since they're built off of windows and doors.

"Orders are flying in. There's a lot of interest."

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