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Creating A Catio

April 1, 2022

Does your cat keep trying to go out? If so, you’re not alone. Many of our feline friends love outdoor kitty activities, like refusing to come when called and leaving dead animals on porches. However, Fluffy is definitely much safer inside, where she is safe from things like cars, weather, and wild and/or stray animals. Want to give your furry buddy the best of both worlds? Make her a catio! A Roanoke, VA vet offers a few tips on this below.

A Purrfect Place

A screened porch or patio is a great option for a catio. You can also use a sunroom, spare room, or even just a bright corner. The main thing is to give Fluffy a spot of her own, where she can enjoy a taste of nature while still staying safe.

Adding Plants

Kitties love having fresh plants to sniff at, nibble on, and ambush their owners from. Just be sure to stick with non-toxic ones. Some good examples would be Boston ferns, Spider plants, Snake plants, African violets, Areca palms, Ponytail palms, many orchids, and Calathea plants. Catnip, of course, is a must. You can find more safe plants listed at the ASPCA website here.


A catio is a great spot for a cat tower. These are actually very beneficial for cats, as they provide napping spots, lookout spots, and peticure stations. Fluffy will also appreciate some comfy beds, a pet tent, or a kitty tunnel. If you really want to spoil your furball, make her a catwalk.

Room With A View

Birdwatching is a hugely popular kitty pastime. If possible, put a birdfeeder up in the yard, where Fluffy can see it. Your furry buddy may spend hours just sunbathing and spying on local wildlife! (Note: if you pay attention, you may notice her making an odd clicking sound when she’s watching birds.)

Pawsitive Option

If you have a yard, you also have an option to make your kitty a little enclosure. This will allow her to experience the smells and feelings of being outdoors, while keeping her safe. You can buy these, but if you’re handy with tools, you can also make your own. Opt for one that uses a window for access, so you don’t need to make any structural changes to your house. Creating a catio is just one way to show your feline friend the respect and care she deserves. For more ideas, check out our article on Respect Your Cat Day.

Our Advice on Creating A Catio in 2024

Why might you want to create a catio for my cat?

Creating a catio offers your cat the pleasure of outdoor activities while ensuring safety from cars, predators, and harsh weather. It provides a space for your cat to experience nature, enjoy birdwatching, and engage in healthy physical activities in a controlled environment, like climbing and exploring. Additionally, a catio can enrich your cat’s environment with non-toxic plants and designated lounging areas, reducing indoor behavioral issues by satisfying their instincts. For tailored advice on building a catio, consider visiting our Veterinary Services clinic serving Roanoke and Salem, VA.

What are some safe plants you can add to your catio?

For a safe and engaging catio, consider adding non-toxic plants that cater to your cat’s curiosity without posing any health risks. Suitable options include Boston ferns, Spider plants, Snake plants, African violets, Areca palms, Ponytail palms, various orchids, and Calathea plants. Catnip is also a great addition, providing natural entertainment and enrichment for your feline friend. Always ensure the plants in your catio are cat-safe by referencing reliable sources like the ASPCA list of non-toxic plants.

What are the important safety considerations for designing and constructing a catio?

When designing and constructing a catio, safety is paramount. Ensure the structure is secure and escape-proof, with sturdy screens or mesh to prevent your cat from getting out and other animals from getting in. The materials should be non-toxic and weather-resistant to protect against environmental elements. Consider a sheltered area within the catio for shade and protection from rain. Additionally, ensure all plants within the catio are non-toxic to cats. Regular maintenance checks for wear and tear can prevent potential hazards, keeping your cat safe and healthy.

What are some tips for introducing your cat to the catio and helping them feel comfortable using it?

To introduce your cat to the catio and ensure comfort, start with short, supervised visits to help them acclimate. Place familiar items like their favorite bed, toys, or scratching post inside the catio to make the space feel safe and inviting. Gradually increase the time they spend there. Use treats and positive reinforcement to encourage exploration and create positive associations. Ensure the catio offers various stimulating elements like perches and safe plants. Patience is key: allow your cat to explore at their own pace without forcing them.

Are there any potential negative impacts of creating a catio that you should be aware of?

While creating a catio offers many benefits, potential negatives include the risk of your cat becoming overly territorial about the catio space, which could lead to stress or behavioral issues if the cat feels its territory is threatened. Additionally, without proper maintenance, a catio can attract pests or wildlife, posing health risks. Ensure the structure is secure and regularly cleaned to mitigate these risks. Consultation with a veterinary professional, such as those serving Roanoke and Salem, VA, can provide guidance on maintaining a healthy and safe catio environment.

As your local Roanoke, VA animal clinic, we’re here to help! Contact us anytime.

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