Golden-eyed, tuxedo cat, Michael, is one lucky feline. He met his ‘Mom’, Sharon Baum, at SafeHaven when he was seven months old. His outgoing personality was a ‘purrfect’ match for Sharon. Sharon previously had several dogs that she loved dearly, including her longtime best friend, Baron, a feisty SafeHaven alum, who passed away in 2015. Michael was her first cat and, as Sharon says, “I didn’t expect to fall madly in love with him.” But, she did and decided to be the best cat Mom possible.
Sharon attended a cat behavior seminar at SafeHaven given by Kristyn Vitale Shreve, a Graduate Research Fellow in Feline Behavior, with the Human-Animal Interaction Lab in the Animal and Rangelands Sciences Department at Oregon State University. The seminar gave Sharon insights and tools for working with and enriching the life, of her new feline companion.
Sharon knew to be cautious and take the time to orient Michael in his new home in North Albany, only letting him outdoors in her large fenced property, when she could be there with him. Michael loved the outdoors, but the busy road that borders his yard was a serious hazard. Sharon worried he would eventually get injured there, or worse. Sadly, current statistics are that approximately five million cats are killed each year by motor vehicles, wild animals, human cruelty, poisons, and pesticides. She didn’t want Michael to be one of them.
So she researched a solution. Build Michael a catio! A catio is a secure outdoor shelter that allows a cat to enjoy the outdoors without the hazards. Usually, it attaches to your home, with an access door for your cat to come and go, as it pleases. Michael’s access door is closed at night to keep him safe inside. Sturdy wire and a covered roof provide fresh air, sights, and smells of the outdoors, without the dangers.
Catios can be specially designed and built, like Sharon’s. Or, they can be ordered prefab on line. Prices range from under $100 to several thousand, depending on size and styling. Sharon ordered her building plans from catiodesigns.com and hired someone to construct it. Other sites also sell designs, prefab kits, and may even do on-site construction.
The Feral Cat Coalition and Audubon Society of Portland have teamed up the last four years to create a Catio Tour of homes featuring catios in the Portland area. Their belief is, “Every cat deserves a safe home where it is loved, cared for and kept free from hazards.” The next tour will be on Saturday, September 9, 2017. Tour registration opens this summer.
Indoor cats live an average of ten years longer than outdoor cats. That’s much more time to enjoy your feline friend. Feeling guilty that kitty can’t be outdoors? A catio can provide healthy fun for your cat and peace of mind for you. What could be better?
As Michael surveys his backyard kingdom from the top perch in his catio, you can read the thoughts behind his kitty smile. “Thanks, Sharon. You are the most awesome cat Mom ever.”