The Moral Case for Catios

We’ve said it before that we’re big fans of outdoor cat enclosures, and two weeks ago we finally installed our own custom catio (photo below) and our cats are loving it!

[Credits – this luxurious Catio was designed by Kris Kischer (owner of Habitat Haven) and the white scalable cat ladder is from James & Jennie who own @monkeetreenz ]

In 2017 we did a post called 5 Reasons Why So Many Cat Owners Are Investing in Catios. The response to this article was overwhelming in terms of support for catios as a means to offer our cats the outdoor enrichment they crave in a safe and comfortable environment.

In 2018 we spoke with catio evangelist Alan Breslauer who offered us his unique perspective in a guest post aptly titled ‘The Moral Case for Catios‘.

We thought it a great idea to repost that article … here’s Alan had to say…

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

If you believe Gandhi, the United States is a significantly greater country today than it was even a decade ago. Just seven years ago we recognized the cruelty of confining killer whales to tiny saltwater tanks to perform tricks for our amusement. Protests and a drop in marine park attendance forced Sea World to announce the eventual end of orca exploitation.

Similarly, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus no longer prod elephants for human entertainment, having retired the performing pachyderms to a 200 acre Florida sanctuary in 2016. More than 20 zoos have also refused to house elephants, which have complex needs, because they lack sufficient grounds.

Strides have also been made closer to home as evidenced by the booming $69 billion pet industry. According to one poll, 76% of owners classify their pets as “beloved members of the family.” Dogs have especially seen an uptick in their treatment with both dog walking services and doggie daycare businesses thriving.

Cats are likely to be the next beneficiaries of human moral progress. There is a movement sweeping the country to educate cat owners about the perils of allowing our feline friends to roam freely outdoors. As celebrity cat expert, Jackson Galaxy, plainly states, “I want cats to be indoors because I want them to live.

Best selling cat author Pam Johnson-Bennett agrees, “My opinion is cats are safe indoors… Letting your cat outdoors to roam the neighborhood puts her at risk for disease, injury, fighting, poisoning, abuse, parasites, and getting lost, stolen, or hit by a car.

They have a point. The average lifespan of a domestic indoor cat is about 17 years while the dangerous outdoors conspire to knock more than a decade off a roaming cats life. With this knowledge, fewer owners are willing to send their beloved family members off to an early death.

Environmentalists, including Pete Marra, the director of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, also advocate for keeping cats, one of the 100 worst invasive species on the planet, indoors. According to Marra, cats “are the number one killer of birds in the United States at over two billion birds per year.

However, relegating cats to the indoors poses it’s own problems. Johnson-Bennett warns that under-stimulated house cats can lead to “boredom-related or stress-relieving behaviors, such as overgrooming, chewing inappropriate items, picking on companion pets, retreating into isolation, overeating, self-mutilation, compulsive behavior, and loss of appetite.”

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) echoed those concerns in a recent position statement, concluding that “The innate needs of the cat are difficult or impossible to replicate in the indoor environment.” Unfortunately, “an increased incidence of behavior problems” in indoor cats has led to “an increase in relinquishment or euthanasia.”

The AAFP emphasizes that, “indoor/outdoor living for cats in an environment that is safe is the best option for pet cats. Safe outdoor living keeps the cat away from most dangers and yet provides a more stimulating environment with potential for more normal feline behavior.” The takeaway from the organization that sets the standards for feline care is, “Whenever possible, an outdoor enclosure is preferred.

Galaxy concurs that outdoor enclosures known as catios (cat patios) are the best solution to the problem: “Catios, to me, are the great compromise.” They “allow cats to have access to fresh air and sunshine, to see birds and bugs, and to experience a little bit of what comes with outdoor living.

With increased education cat owners are discovering that both roaming and indoor only cats are not ideal solutions for their pets. With that knowledge more and more pet owners are turning to catios. And that speaks well of our moral progress.

Author Bio

Alan Breslauer, who has two 16-year-old feline family members named Cooper and Monkey, is a catio evangelist. Four years ago he launched Custom Catios, which builds cat enclosures, to ensure cat safety and happiness throughout Los Angeles.

Be sure to check out Alan’s latest celebrity catio for Anna Akana.

Image credits: all with permission from Custom Catios


  1. Chrystal Heward March 28, 2018
    • Miranda Brooks May 15, 2019
  2. jmuhj April 26, 2019
    • Mandy May 14, 2019
      • jmuhj May 14, 2019
  3. Joseph S Lentz May 15, 2019
  4. Olivia July 31, 2019

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