The outdoor cat enclosure is all the rage right now. With the common perception being that there is more traffic on the road, and more people living in apartment blocks embracing cat ownership, people have become increasingly reluctant to let their cats roam free outside.
While they may have their pet’s best interests at heart, cats who can’t go outside are missing out: on fresh air, on exercise and on the sights and smells they so relish.
With this in mind, outdoor cat enclosures represent a healthy middle ground. There are now many such enclosures about, purporting to offer a safe and secure environment for your cat to experience the outside world, while at the same time leaving you with the peace of mind that they’ll be safe as they do so.
As you’ll discover while in this guide, outdoor cat enclosures literally come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you want an elaborate outdoor structure, something more compact to suit the space you have, or that’s easy to move around and disassemble, we’ve got you covered.
So read on as we give our verdict on the best cat runs out there, and find somewhere safe for your cat to patrol…
PetsRadar's pick of the best outdoor cat enclosures
Omlet Catio Outdoor Cat Enclosure
Best overall outdoor cat enclosure
Measurements (inches): 72 x 72 x 81.6 | Weight (pounds): 132 | Materials: Steel mesh
Omlet’s outdoor cat enclosures have caught the eye, and for good reason. Available in a few different sizes, and the recipient of numerous positive reviews, they should be the first port of call for anyone looking for a safe outdoor space for their cat.
The cages are made from an eye-catching green steel mesh that cats can climb without getting their claws snagged. The cages are reasonably easy to put together – if you get stuck with the instructions we recommend this handy YouTube video.
Once it has been put together, you’ll appreciate the care and attention that has gone into it. Thanks to the skirt at the bottom, escape is pretty much impossible. Even better, should you choose to, you can expand this further down the line, with Omlet’s products designed to fit together perfectly.
The interior is empty, making it easy to fill up and customize with whatever you like. There is also a roof available to buy separately, should you want to give your pet a bit of shade or shelter.
However, this quality comes at a price. The 6ft cubed design we’ve reviewed here will set you back $659, with the next smallest offering (for balconies) comes in at $439. It’s a big ask on your wallet, but considering how long it will last, and the safety and peace of mind it will grant you, this is a price worth paying.
If you can afford to do so, and have space in your garden, yard or balcony, then Omlet should be your first port of call.
Outback Jack Outdoor Cat Enclosures For Indoor Cats
Best budget option
Measurements (inches): 31 x 21.5 x 6.5 | Weight (pounds): 7 | Materials: Polyester, mesh
As much as we’d all like loads of money and a huge garden, most of us don’t have these luxuries. While this doesn’t have the sheer scale of Omlet’s offerings, it is undoubtedly a much more realistic prospect warranting closer examination.
It may not look the biggest from the pictures, but it offers a lot of room for your kitty, encompassing over 30 feet of space. The tunnel zips onto the end of the supplied tent – a masterstroke since cats love running down tunnels, and will have a lot of fun with this.
Totally surrounded by a polyester mesh material, the gaps are small enough that no bugs can get in. We suspected that it might be susceptible to getting torn by claw-happy cats, but we haven’t seen any reports of this in reviews, so we’ll give Outback Jack the benefit of the doubt.
Assembly couldn’t be simpler. Once out of the packaging, simply undo the ties and the tunnel pops out. From there, it’s simply a case of zipping it onto the tent, and everything’s effectively done.
There were reports of the zip breaking in user reviews, but these were few and far between. For the relatively low price, we’re not expecting anything especially sturdy, but it’s comforting to know that there are so many happy customers.
While we wouldn’t recommend leaving your cat in it for hours on end, it seems perfect for giving them a few hours in the sun. Coupled with its affordability and portability, and you have something that could be worth an investment.
COZIWOW Large Wooden Outdoor Pet Cat Dog Enclosure Catio Cage with 6 Platforms
Best for needing no additions
Measurements (inches): 66.5 x 34.6 x 71 | Weight (pounds): 94 | Materials: Fir wood, asphalt, iron wire
There are a number of similar-looking offerings available across Amazon and eBay, but this product from COZIWOW takes our fancy for a number of reasons.
First, it seems to have everything your cat needs. You’ll be fully aware of how much they love attempting to jump onto surfaces they shouldn’t be able to reach. Here, they can challenge themselves in a safer environment.
It looks satisfyingly secure. The pinewood frame is sturdy and sealed together with pet-friendly materials. The seller offers 100% quality assurance for the first year, which should put your mind at rest. While this is described as weatherproof and no maintenance instructions are given, we’d still recommend giving this a waterproof varnish every couple of years or so. Alternatively, if you don’t like the color, you can just paint it.
Reports on assembly vary. While the majority of reviews don’t describe any issues, a few report not all the pieces of wood being pre-drilled as advertised. Even so, delivery seems to be pretty efficient, with everything contained within two parcels. Considering the size of it, that seems quite the achievement.
All in all, this is another sturdy outdoor enclosure option that is both sturdier than a lot of other offerings, while simultaneously cheaper than a lot of others. If Omlet’s products are a bit too expensive for your liking, and you are not averse to occasional maintenance, then this could be worth purchasing.
PawHut Large Wooden Outdoor Cat House
Best house and enclosure combo
Measurements (inches): 76.75 x 37.25 x 68.75 | Weight (pounds): 100 | Materials: Fir wood, asphalt, wire mesh
Upon purchasing an outdoor cat enclosure, one of the first resorts is usually to purchase some cover to protect your cat from the elements. Here, there is no need to worry about this, with the design incorporating its very own kennel to assist in providing some vital shelter.
This is more expensive than a lot of other cat runs we’ve seen, which is unsurprising considering the relatively high quality of the construction materials. But bearing in mind the almost entirely positive Amazon user reviews, this added expense has brought with it security – both for your pet and for your peace of mind.
The fir wood materials offer a sturdy framework for this enclosure, and the asphalt provides a good level of waterproofing. Inside, a ladder provides easy access to the cat house, which provides ample shelter. Outside, there’s plenty of room for your cats to lie around in. We recommend putting a couple of scratch posts in there, maybe a freestanding platform or two.
All in all, it’s hard to find a lot wrong with this particular enclosure. It even looks nice – the grey paint aesthetic giving the impression that it has actually been designed, rather than hurriedly put together like some of the unpainted wood-themed products out there.
If you don’t mind paying the hefty price tag, then you’ll get a well-made outdoor cat enclosure. With a few additions, this could be all your cat could want.
AmazonBasics Large 3-Tier Cat Cage Playpen Box Crate Kennel
Best to keep on the balcony
Measurements (inches): 35.83 x 22.44 x 50.6 | Weight (pounds): 37.4 | Materials: Metal wire, rust-resistant e-coat finish
If your needs are of a considerably lower scale than what you’ve seen previously in this guide, then this Amazon Basics offering might be more to your liking. Although it’s much smaller in size, it has the advantage of being portable, relatively inexpensive, and ultimately perfect for placement on a balcony. The swing-open doors have secure latches too, meaning there’s little risk of your cat performing a Houdini act.
Comprising three tiers – perfect for your cat to jump around on should they want some exercise, or simply a better view – it offers a safe and secure environment in which they can do so. Should they try to claw at or chew the cage, the durable metal wire – adorned with a black e-fish – is perfectly safe for cats. It requires no real maintenance, apart from the odd clean if it gets dusty.
If you want to move it, you can simply wheel it around or fold it up, ready for transportation elsewhere. Though few breakages of any kind have been reported, a year’s warranty is offered, so either way, it’s nothing to worry about.
It also provides a handy dual purpose: litterbox training. Some cats don’t like being watched, so placing a tray at the bottom could provide a handy alternative.
While it might not be exactly what you’d think of when looking for cat enclosures, we can’t deny that it is handy for those living in more confined spaces. If you’re one of those people, it could serve as a handy middle ground against a full-sized enclosure.
ToysOpoly #1 Premium Pet Playpen
Best portable cat enclosure
Measurements (inches): 26 x 19 x 1.9 | Weight (pounds): 5.6 | Materials: Open mesh
If you’re the sort of person who likes to take their cat away with them, then this could be the solution you’re looking for. Letting them roam around in an unfamiliar environment isn’t ideal, so being able to take something with you that makes it easy to keep an eye on them while they experience the outdoors is not to be sniffed at.
This playpen from ToysOpoly – intended primarily for outdoor use – provides your cat with an open and risk-free environment (it is BPA-safe and lead-safe, third-party tested and certified non-toxic). It’s durable and waterproof, and easy to assemble, popping up in seconds upon removal from its packaging.
Fill it up with some toys and it’s perfect for a few hours in the garden or on the balcony on a nice sunny day. What’s more, if you’re confident that your cat won’t attempt a leapfrog, you can unzip the roof, allowing them to bask in the sun.
Inevitably, considering the relatively low price, some parts are susceptible to breaking. The zips are particularly flimsy, with some customers reporting these breaking. Like the rest of the material on this product, it seems that more care and attention than usual is required when handling this.
While it might not necessarily have the longest lifespan, you definitely get what you pay for – a safe and open environment for your cat to play around in, allowing them to experience the outside world at a safe distance.
How to choose the best outdoor cat enclosure
Outdoor cat enclosures come in many forms, probably more than you previously imagined. With this in mind, you’ll need to think carefully about what exactly you require from one. For us, the primary considerations to bear in mind are:
What is your budget?
These products range from easily affordable to quite substantial financial outlays. If you can afford it then great, but don’t pay more than you can afford.
What do you have room for?
Can you physically fit it in your outdoor space? Do you have a whole garden or a balcony? Choose accordingly.
Is it pet safe?
This is why it pays to purchase products from recognized manufacturers, and not retailers with no reviews online. Some things are worth taking a punt on, but not the health and safety of your furry friends.
What are the return policies?
Some cats take time to adjust to outdoor enclosures. Some just plain dislike them altogether. Rather than persisting and making your cat uncomfortable, have your exit route planned should they not take to it.
What does it come with?
Would you like a kennel included, or are you going to customize it yourself? Keep an eye on what is included.
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