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Cat-lovers built their indoor cats a 'catio' so they can enjoy the outdoors

Richard Chin, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

In their new outdoor living room, Coco and Rosie have lounging areas, exercise equipment, fragrant plants, tasteful lighting accents and a water fountain. The three-season sanctuary is connected to the main house with a stylish elevated breezeway.

Coco and Rosie think they're worth it.

After all, they're cats.

The outside hangout for the two middle-aged Animal Humane Society adoptees was created by Suzy Kronfeld and her husband, David Baum.

They used to let their cats roam outside, but the Edina couple became increasingly worried about them being injured by cars or coyotes -- or that they would harm other wildlife. When Coco insisted on being let out, the couple would follow her to make sure she didn't get into trouble.

"I wanted the cats to be safe. I wanted the birds to be safe. I wanted Coco to enjoy nature," Kronfeld said. "She really loves to be outdoors."


Then Kronfeld read about cat patios, better known as catios.

In recent years, do-it-yourself cat owners, pet companies and cat-friendly contractors have begun creating screened enclosures -- which range in price from less than $50 to $30,000 -- that keep cats safe while letting them enjoy fresh air, sunshine and the sights, sounds and smells of nature.

Kate Benjamin, founder of the website and co-author of "Catification," a book about cat-centric interior design, said catios started to become a thing about 10 years ago. They've become so much a part of the cat culture that some cities (including Portland, Ore., Seattle and Austin, Texas) have catio tours. They've even become a niche in the home improvement industry, with contractors specializing in costly catios and designers turning out catio kits.

A catio can be as simple as a wire-mesh box attached outside a window. But it also can be a screened-in apartment balcony, or a custom-designed, room-sized deck fenced in and outfitted for felines.


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