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Creating A Catio

December 7, 2023

Do you keep your cat indoors? Good for you! Fluffy will be both safer and healthier staying indoors. Kitties that are allowed outdoors face a whole slew of hazards, such as weather, chemicals, traffic, stray cats and dogs, and, here in Florida, snakes and alligators. Of course, our feline buddies do both enjoy and benefit from the stimulation and exercise they get from going outdoors. Want to offer your pet the best of both worlds? Make her a catio! A Longwood, FL vet offers some advice on this below.

Choose A Sunny Spot

An enclosed porch or patio is the purrfect spot for a catio, but those aren’t the only options. You can also put one in a bay window, spare room, or even just a bright corner. 

Offer A View

Keeping your cat indoors isn’t just safer for her: it’s also safer for the small animals in your neighborhood. Kitties kill billions of small animals every year! However, Fluffy is a predator at heart. She’ll always enjoy watching birds and squirrels, and perhaps making clicking noises at them. If you can, put a birdfeeder up in your furball’s line of view. This will provide live entertainment. (We don’t advise doing this if you let your kitty out, as the poor birds probably won’t fare very well.)  

Add Some Purrniture

While Fluffy would no doubt be thrilled if you installed a full catwalk and/or even a live tree for her, you don’t have to go that far. A cat tower is a great choice for any catio. These are multi-functional pieces, which provide Fluffy a napping spot, nail-care station, lookout point, and jungle gym. You can also install window seats or even kitty shelves. On a budget? Go the DIY route, and make something! Remember to add some things for yourself as well. You may soon find that Fluffy’s catio has become your favorite place for relaxing and enjoying a coffee.

Choose Plants Carefully

You can’t have a proper catio without  plants! Kitties enjoy peeking out from behind green leaves at their humans. Fluffy will also appreciate the little taste of nature that houseplants offer. Just take care to only add safe plants. Some good options include Boston ferns, Areca palms, Ponytail palms, African violets, Spider plants, and Money plants. You can find a great list of both safe and unsafe plants at the ASPCA website here

Our Advice on Creating A Catio in 2024

Why should you keep your cat indoors?

Keeping your cat indoors is recommended to ensure their safety and health. Indoor cats are protected from various hazards such as traffic, predators like snakes and alligators, harmful chemicals, and diseases from other animals. Additionally, indoor environments reduce the risk of injuries from fights or accidents. By staying indoors, cats can enjoy a longer, healthier life with fewer risks of external threats. However, it’s essential to provide ample stimulation and exercise opportunities indoors to keep them active and engaged.

What factors should you consider when choosing a location for your catio?

When choosing a location for your catio, consider a spot that provides ample sunlight and offers your cat a view of the outdoors to stimulate their predatory instincts, such as watching birds and squirrels. An enclosed porch, patio, bay window, or even a bright corner can be ideal. Ensure the area is safe from hazards and has enough space for cat-friendly furniture and plants. Adding a bird feeder within view can enrich your cat’s experience, but only if your cat remains indoors to ensure bird safety.

How big should your catio be?

The size of your catio should reflect the available space, the number of cats you have, and their activity levels. Ideally, it should be large enough to accommodate various types of cat-friendly furniture, such as towers, shelves, and beds, allowing your cats to climb, explore, and relax comfortably. For a single cat, a smaller space can suffice if well-designed. However, for multiple cats or very active breeds, a larger area is recommended to ensure they all have enough room to play and enjoy the outdoor experience safely.

How do you ensure your catio is secure and escape-proof?

To ensure your catio is secure and escape-proof, focus on sturdy construction and materials. Use weather-resistant wood or metal for the frame and strong, tightly woven mesh or wire for the sides and top to prevent chewing or clawing through. Ensure all doors and windows have secure latches. Check for gaps or weak points regularly, and maintain the structure to prevent wear and tear from creating escape routes. Incorporating a double-door system can act as an additional safety measure to prevent escapes when entering or exiting the catio.

How can you make your catio interesting and stimulating for your cat long-term?

To keep your catio interesting and stimulating for your cat long-term, incorporate a variety of perches, shelves, and cat trees for climbing and observing their surroundings. Include a mix of safe, non-toxic plants that provide a natural environment and additional sensory stimulation. Rotating toys and adding features like bird feeders outside the catio can keep your cat engaged by stimulating their hunting instincts. Providing areas for scratching, resting, and hiding will cater to all aspects of your cat’s natural behaviors and ensure the catio remains a favorite spot.

As your local Longwood, FL veterinary clinic, we are dedicated to offering great veterinary care. Please contact us anytime! 

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