While the Home & Garden section of The New York Times frequently delivers quality content, rarely do I come across a feature that causes my jaw drop in disbelief and my fingers race to the “share” button. Last night was an exception.

Today’s NYT (published last night on the web) features a somewhat mind-blowing trend piece on “catios.” Yes, catios. They’re exactly what you think they are: enclosed outdoor spaces installed by kitty-keepers who want Princess Snowball to enjoy the many stimulating splendors of the great outdoors without allowing her to roam free and go the full-on “outdoor cat” route. Because, you know, the outdoors can be a perilous place for Princess Snowball: she could be hit by a car, lost in the woods, fall in with the wrong crowd and get into fights, or, god forbid, get knocked up. 

Many catios are simple DIY affairs that involve enclosing a porch or balcony with things like lumber, chicken wire, piping, and/or some kind of netting ... nothing too crazy. Then there are other, more elaborate catios with elevated walkways, tree forts, tunnels, and “penthouses” complete with cat hammocks. 

Even as a non-cat owner, I found that a large chunk of time mysteriously disappeared last night thanks to the website for Kittywalk Systems, a company that manufactures modular outdoor cat enclosures and, um, pet strollers. And don’t even get me started on Catioshowcase.com …  

Head on over to the NYT to read the full article and see the accompanying slideshow — the best part as far as I'm concerned. Also, I was curious as to what my cat owning/obsessed friends thought of the piece. My friend Liz in Seattle, mother to Glen the tabby, had this to say of the slideshow: "I was sort of down with the whole deal until the end, and then I just felt sad." What do you think of the catio craze?

Via [NYT]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.