black and white cat laying in his cat solarium with his outdoor view
Credit: Janelle Leeson

I Tried This Mini Catio From Etsy—Here's What My Cats Thought

Your cat will love feeling the breeze in her whiskers—from the comfort and safety of this window solarium. 
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Building a catio has been on the top of our to-do list since moving into our house—two years ago. It would melt our cat parent hearts to give our fur kids unrestricted access to a cat haven safe from cars, dogs, and other dangers. But catios require time, skill, and space. We lack a combination of those things.

Then, I had the pleasure of scouring the internet for the best cat perches for every type of kitty. I wanted them all for myself (er, for my cats). Most notable on the list was the cat solarium—the cat perch of all cat perches.

The cat solarium isn't just any window perch. It doesn't just attach to the inside of a window for passive bird watching and enrichment. It sandwiches between an open window and the sill, jutting out into the open air. Dare I say, it's a miniature window catio.

The maker, CatSolarium on Etsy, sells these solariums in different packages and designs. We went with the Cat Solarium Weather Package for $400. You can opt for other packages that don't include all-weather supplies, but the weather package seems like the best buy. It includes a mesh screen attachment, a weather enclosure for cooler months, a plexiglass attachment with a cat door, and a custom pillow.  

outside view of a black and white cat in his cat solarium
One of the writer's cats, Atlas, enjoys the cat solarium.
| Credit: Janelle Leeson

Shop now: Cat Solarium Weather Package, $400 on Etsy

It arrives in a fairly thin box, requiring your expertise to assemble. One online reviewer noted that assembly took about an hour and a half, and the box didn't come with directions. We ran into this assembly issue as well but quickly found the instructions with a quick Google search. Once assembled, there's an approximately four-inch gap on either side of the solarium. The directions note it can be temporarily sealed with the included plastic and Velcro strips—which we opted to do.

Our cats, Atylas and Lyra, love the solarium, and it's a hands-down great alternative to a full-fledged catio. The materials are sturdy and well built, providing enough space and support for our two 10-pound cats to share.

The compact size of the solarium has its perks, but offering space for play isn't one. Honestly, our cats are too busy chattering at the birds anyhow. The cozy elevated spot is a favorite for daily naps, grooming, and general loafing. I'm happy to report that my cats still snooze in bed with us most the night but are choosing the solarium time and time again over their selection of cat trees, perches, and other elevated beds we have. 

They don't understand how to use the cat door (user error), so we've opted to remove it for the mild temperatures. We'll revisit the door training when it gets too cold outside. We're also still seeking a more permanent solution to the gap on either side of the solarium.

Overall, we're really pleased with the cat solarium. The price point might be at the top of the budget considering the amount of handiwork needed from the pet parent, but we feel good knowing that we're supporting a small business owner and providing our floofs with safe enrichment. We still hope to build a catio one day, but until then, our girls enjoy feeling the breeze from their private, open-air solarium.