They come with bridges, hanging plants, and multi-level mazes.

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Your little feline friend might have spent her entire life indoors, but a small part of her will always be drawn to the outside world. The only problem? Dangers lurk in the great outdoors. Cats who run away from home might not always be able to find their way back, risk getting run over, attacked by other animals, or picked up by a stranger. They're also prone to hunting wildlife, including birds and squirrels, and if you haven't gotten your sweet Tabby fixed, she might end up with a few kittens of her own. Studies have shown that indoor cats tend to live decades longer, but the great outdoors still call to her wild instincts and her curious nature.

a gorgeous brown mink Tonkinese lying in the sun surrounded by the leaves and foliage
Credit: ahloch / Getty Images

That's where the catio comes into play—they're the latest home building trend that caters to domesticated cats and their concerned owners. What is a catio? In the simplest terms, it's an enclosed patio built in with cat treeslitter box modulesshelving, and more. When you are the designer, the custom options are almost endless. You can add catios onto your windows, allowing the cat to roam outside and watch the birds from a safe distance. Or, you can create a more elaborate catio with enclosed walkways or a private oasis with plants and climbing trees.

Take the one shown here, for example, complete with a screen, several perches, and even a bench for a human visitor. For a green garden? Lined with pet-safe flowerbeds, it becomes the perfect oasis. Some catios are connected via a small kitty door. A catio can complement the exterior of a home; many are screened over the windowsill for easy access. And when your feline family grows? They are easily expanded. Try one that can be expanded with mesh screen wings. With a lounge chair, a bubbling stone fountain, and multiple ferns... we wouldn't mind staying here, ourselves.

How do you construct your own catio? First you'll need to decide what you want out of this space. Pre-made catios can be purchased online, or you can order catio designs and build the enclosures yourself with a handy checklist. Homebuilders in your area might also specialize in catio designs. Keep in mind that your cat is wily and determined. You will need to make sure that she can't squeeze through the fencing or dig under it. It's also a good idea to verify that you're allowed to build a catio extension on your house in your neighborhood. Finding the perfect catio design will depend on you, your cat, and your budget. Your cat will love the ability to explore and extend her territory.

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