10 BENEFITS OF CATIOS FOR CAT OWNERS:
- Protection from vehicles, predators, poisons, diseases or getting lost or stuck in a tree.
- Reduce vet bills from cat fights or injuries.
- Protect birds and wildlife.
- Help reduce the roaming cat populations in local communities.
- Provide a healthy outdoor lifestyle with fresh air, exercise, bird watching and sunbathing.
- Help reduce indoor multi-cat issues by adding more territory.
- Enjoy feline and human interaction surrounded by nature and fresh air.
- Help reduce indoor odors with an additional outdoor litter box.
- Good neighbor relations (keep your cat out of their gardens and yards).
- Peace of mind knowing your cat is in a safe and protected place.
Seattle-based cat expert Cynthia Chomos is helping raise awareness of the well-being of cats and their value as companions. “Lifelong cat parents and first-time pet owners can help enhance the health and happiness of our four-legged family members,” said Chomos whose Catio Spaces business was started to help cats stay safe and happy while protecting birds and wildlife.
From her experience as a pet owner and catio designer, Chomos knows while dogs can safely enjoy outdoor time on a leash or in their fenced backyard, there are many dangers for free-roaming cats, including vehicles, predators, poisons, diseases from animals, and getting lost or chased up a tree. Many cat parents feel guilty keeping their cats indoors, or incur frequent vet bills when their cats are allowed to roam unsupervised outside, she noted.
“Cats naturally want to be outdoors where they can experience fresh air and the sights, sounds and stimulation of nature,” says Chomos, adding, “Catios, outdoor cat enclosures or cat patios, help solve the indoor/outdoor dilemma and provide peace of mind for many cat parents.”
To help spread the word with cat parents and offer inspiration for those seeking ways for their cats to enjoy safe outdoor time, Chomos hosts a national catio tour event directory on her website and helps animal welfare groups organize tours in their respective cities.
In 2014, Chomos started Catio Spaces, a company that designs and builds custom outdoor enclosures and offers DIY catio plans in a variety of sizes for a window, porch, patio, deck or yard to help protect cats from various outdoor hazards and provide much needed stimulation on a daily basis. Each plan is a PDF download that includes a material and tool list, step-by-step instructions and diagrams for a successful project. Ten percent of DIY plan sales is donated to animal welfare organizations.
Chomos notes indoor cats live longer than their outdoor counterparts but says an unenriched, indoor-only life can have downsides veterinarians see every day, such as obesity, aggression, furniture destruction, and inappropriate elimination.
According to a national survey of pet owners, there were approximately 95.6 million cats living in households in the U.S. in 2017, but not all receive regular preventive exams by a veterinarian. Reports from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) indicate cat visits to veterinarians have declined, despite evidence that routine wellness visits can help detect medical problems early.
In addition to regular veterinary visits, high quality diets, and safe habitats, cats need mental and physical stimulation, emphasizes Chomos, noting obesity is a major problem for felines, particularly between ages 5-to-10. Catios can be designed and accessorized to promote stretching and exercise, wildlife-watching, healthy habits, and interactive play to help keep a cat lean, fit and enriched.
Happy cats are not only adored companions, they also provide therapeutic value, according to cat experts. For example, studies by researchers with Mayo Clinics, the National Institutes of Health, and other institutions indicate humans’ own health can benefit from being cat owners. Among the healing benefits of cat purrs and companionship are lower stress and anxiety and more restful sleep.
For Chomos, such findings come as no surprise. She drew on her experience as a fe
Feng shui expert and general contractor to build several catios for Serena, her sun-worshipping tabby. As a nature lover who believes time outdoors is good for humans too, she designed a catnap catio, complete with a daybed so she and Serena can relax and enjoy the widely-touted benefits of catnapping.
Since those initial creations, her custom catio designs have been crafted for cats whose owners live in urban high-rises, houseboats and a variety of other home and garden settings, including the colorful catio menagerie.
Chomos works locally and globally with cat owners and animal welfare organizations on a variety of issues. She regularly answers inquiries covering a range of concerns, from protecting cats from predators, toxins, fights and cars to solving multi-cat issues associated with territory or a lack of stimulation.
Chomos also supports animal shelter and rescue organizations via the Catio Spaces Affiliate Program. Organizations that help raise awareness of the benefits of catios can earn 10% of any DIY catio plan sales as a result of their efforts. Her company provides free tips and tools to assist them.
“I’m delighted to help promote the power of the purr,” proclaimed Chomos. “At Catio Spaces, helping cats, birds and wildlife stay safe is a founding principle and we value the role the CATalyst Council, PALS and other animal welfare organizations play in enhancing the lives and happiness