I love, love, love kitties, but my son is highly allergic and predisposed to asthma. The last time I brought a feline patient home his face puffed up and the congestion lasted three days beyond her departure.

But I can’t justify keeping cats out of doors. Not when I know most of my local strays are FIV-positive. Not while I still occasionally take on the neighborhood detail of scraping feline remains off our asphalt. And not when I know the green zone my yard provides is a prime pathway for migratory birds. No way. No outdoor kitties for me, so no cats at all, sadly.

I’ve been resigned to this cat-less condition for about seven years now. And it’s OK, since I’ve got so many at work to play with. But it’s not the same as the one-on-one relationship a constant companion provides. And it doesn’t solve the issue of getting more cats off the street — which is why the concept of outdoor cat enclosures got me thinking…

Why couldn’t I keep a cat? With these great cat enclosures I recently found, kitties can live a full life outdoors, without the stress inherent to modern suburban life.

Though the custom designed ones would best meet my needs (after all, I want to sit inside the enclosure and interact with them) most of the commercial designs I’ve found are best for indoor cats who need some outdoor play time for a richer life experience — without all the safety and environmental concerns many pet parents worry about.

Here are some basic types:

Window boxes. Isn't this one pretty?

Custom-designed enclosures like this one

Portable habitats like the one at WildWhiskers

Or this version called Kittywalk

Cat-proof fencing is always an option, though it's considered the least secure choice, as it won't keep out predators and may even help you collect neighborhood strays (they get in but they can't get out). Consider this kit at Purr...fect Fence

Great stuff, right? It's best for cats, for the environment, for my asthmatic son's health, maybe even for your furniture! Why risk injury and disease, live cat-less, or inflict feline damage upon the environment when happy outdoor felines can happen in cool outdoor enclosures like these?

And when you consider that indoor cats reportedly outlive their free-roaming outdoor mates five to one, you might not need any further inducements.

Dr. Patty Khuly