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How Much Does a Catio Cost? DIY vs. Fully-Built (2023 Price Guide)

Bynewsmagzines

Feb 6, 2023
long haired cat stretching in an outdoor catio


What do you do when the sun is shining and your cat constantly meows at the door? How can you offer your little house panther a taste of the great outdoors? And let’s be honest, an open window just doesn’t cut it at times.

There’s a simple solution: catios.

Catios are like little patios, but for your cat. They require a little money and work upfront, yet they are totally worth it.

We know what you’re thinking—what’s all this going to cost me? Well, that depends, but we’re breaking it down for you, one dollar at a time. Generally, DIY catios can cost anywhere from $0 to $500, catio kits are around $300 to $1,500, and custom catios can cost $3,000-$10,000. 

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Should You Let Your Cat Outside?

Allowing your cat outside is a controversial subject in the cat community. Cats are, by nature, hunters of the great outdoors. No amount of domestication can take away their desire for “the hunt.”

However, there are downsides to letting your cat roam freely outside. Concerns like stranger danger, being run over, and dog attacks can all happen when you least expect it. There’s also the concern about our declining bird population.

Allowing your cat outside greatly benefits its mental health and overall well-being. That’s why catios are excellent ideas. Catios allow your cat to “explore” outside without leaving the comforts of home. Your cat can enjoy some fresh air, experience natural weather exposure, and watch wildlife without killing them. It really is a win-win for everyone.

By now, you’re already convinced that catios are a good idea, so let’s jump into the nitty gritty. How much does a catio cost?

bengal cat sitting in a catio
Image Credit: The Cats, Shutterstock

divider-catHow Much Does a Catio Cost? DIY, Kits, or Custom?

When you start shopping for a catio, carefully consider these elements:

  • Size
  • Materials
  • Tools
  • Shipping
  • Accessories
  • Skill
  • Regulations
  • Labor

You can bet your bottom dollar on all of these elements, so take your time contemplating each and every one. In fact, write down how much you’re willing to spend, what materials you’d like to use, and what materials you already have that could work. Now, let’s talk money.

1. DIY Catios

DIY catios are budget-friendly, costing anywhere from $0 to $500. You could spend more if you wanted, and sometimes, you might have to if you’re starting from scratch. But overall, DIY is the way to go if you’re trying to keep a tight rein on the wallet.

Don’t worry if you don’t have construction experience. All you have to do is buy the materials and tools. Many catio companies offer affordable DIY plans that detail your construction step by step.

The nice thing about DIY catios is how versatile you can be with materials. We’ll talk more about materials in just a moment, but keep that in mind as we discuss kits and custom catios.

cat-sitting-in-catio-looking-outside
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

2. Catio Kits

Catio kits are structures delivered to your home. It’s like buying furniture from IKEA or Amazon. The company sends you the materials, and you assemble the structure. This option costs between $300 to $1,500.

Clearly, you’ll have to spend more money with this option, especially if you want a larger catio.  You’ll also have to consider the cost of shipping. Shipping costs vary from location to location, so try to order from a nearby company to cut costs in this area.


3. Custom Catios

Custom catios are the most expensive option. You should expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 and $10,000. 

Custom catios are expensive because you’re paying for manual labor and the cost of materials. You don’t have to do any of the work—just cough up the money and the company will do the rest.

The nice thing about custom catios is guaranteed safety. An esteemed professional company understands security and can do a better job at construction compared to a first-timer.

black and white cat in a cat patio
Image Credit: SariMe, Shutterstock

divider-catThe 3 Additional Costs to Anticipate

Let’s look at other costs that sneak into the budget.

1. Building Permits

You’ll have to obtain a building permit in some counties and neighborhoods to begin construction on your catio. Building permits vary greatly based on the size of the structure. Thankfully, catios are generally small, so you shouldn’t have to pay too much.

cat sleeping on a patio
Image Credit: hapibu, Pixabay

2. Catio Accessories and Enrichment

Building the catio is the first step. Your cat will need some accessories for extra fun, like cat trees and shelves. Your cat will also need to access the catio somehow, so you’ll have to install a doggy door.

Other accessories include:

  • Cat-friendly plants
  • Litter boxes
  • Hammocks for shade and lounging
  • Flooring
  • Cat tunnels
  • Ramps

3. Building a Catio on a Budget

Don’t want to spend $10,000 on a catio? No problem!

Catios can be as cheap or expensive as you want to make them. If you’re looking for something budget-friendly, try using recycled materials like wood pallets and dog kennels to keep costs low.

Other materials like PVC pipes, tarps, plywood, tree branches, and logs help minimize the cost of materials.

If you’re at a loss with the build, don’t be afraid to ask a friend for help. Offer to pay for labor by taking your friend out for dinner, babysitting, walking the dog, or buying groceries. Remember to get creative!

cat patio outdoors
Image Credit: TheCats, Shutterstock

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How Often Should I Let My Cat Outside?

How often you let your cat outside is entirely up to you and your location. Still, there are a few rules regarding the weather and animals you’ll need to follow.

  • Rule 1. Watch for high winds and rainy days, especially during the hurricane and tornado seasons.
  • Rule 2. Ensure your cat has water and shade if it gets trapped outside during the summer.
  • Rule 3. Don’t leave food in the catio; otherwise, crafty critters like raccoons will want a piece of the pie.
  • Rule 4. If you’re DIYing the build, cover exposed nails and screw points so your cat doesn’t cut itself.

Follow these rules, and you and your cat should be good to go!

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Conclusion

Catios are cat paradises, and they’re affordable. You can spend any amount on a catio without shame. Want to hire a contractor and spend $10,000? Go for it. Want to reuse your neighbor’s scrap wood? Great. The important thing to remember is to keep your cat safe and follow neighborhood laws.


Featured Image Credit: SariMe, Shutterstock

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