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How to build a “catio” – a patio for your cat

Just as we appreciate the sights and smells of a pleasant walk in the park, cats also enjoy the senses of the great outdoors. In fact, safely exposing your cat to outdoor elements can be a great way to provide mental stimulation – which is important for your cat’s behavioral health and happiness. That’s why it’s a great idea to build a catio – an enclosed patio specifically designed to enrich your cat’s life.

Catios come in all shapes and sizes. From a simple screened-in window box, to transforming your lanai into a kitty fortress, catios are customizable depending on your cat and home. Here are some ideas for building your catio:

Start with a strong, safe foundation. Whether you construct your catio from wood and screen, or you begin by building upon your current patio, it’s essential to have a strong base. Make sure there are no holes in the screen and the walls are secure. If you are building your catio as an extension of a window, make sure it is safely adhered to the main structure.

Create vertical space. Cats love to climb and explore higher ground, so consider adding in some sturdy wall shelves or a tall cat tower. By creating vertical space, you can allow your cat to get a birds-eye view of the outdoors.

Add greenery. Did you know your cat’s sense of smell is roughly nine times stronger than yours? That’s why providing natural scents, such as plants, can enhance your catio. Consider adding potted flowers or trees for your cat to sniff and touch. Just be sure to avoid plants that are toxic to cats, such as lilies and sago palm.

Sprinkle in some fun toys. Providing toys is an important aspect of cat enrichment, so consider adding some safe and interactive toys to your catio. Look for toys that have twirling pieces or dangling elements that can be dragged across the floor. Puzzle toys that have hidden chambers of food are also great for a cat’s mental stimulation. If your cat enjoys plush mice or crinkle balls, add a few of those to your catio too.

Provide various textures. A catio satisfies your cat’s senses of smell and sight, but what about touch? Cats are often very fascinated by new textures, so it’s best to provide a few options. We recommend adding a patch of fresh grass, a carpeted cat tower or shelf and/or a scratching post.

Make fresh water fun. It’s essential to provide fresh water in your catio, but that doesn’t have to mean just a bowl on the floor. Many cats actually enjoy the stimulation of a drinking fountain or stream of fresh water. You can find more creative options like this at your local pet store or online. Cats also enjoy having multiple sources of fresh water – so add a few extra bowls of water around your catio at different height levels.

Eliminate fragile items. A catio’s purpose is to stimulate your cat’s instincts to jump, climb, explore and pounce… so it’s probably best to keep breakable items out of reach. Ceramic pots, fragile lawn ornaments and glass items are not ideal for your catio.

A catio is a safe, fun way to provide your cat with enrichment and mental stimulation. Just remember to follow these safety tips:

  • Make sure it’s escape-proof and completely sealed.
  • Always supervise your cats while they are enjoying the catio.
  • Provide fresh water.
  • Limit catio time if it’s too hot or too cold outside.
  • If you’re not sure if a catio is right for your cat, talk to your primary veterinarian.

For more DIY inspiration for your pet home, visit our “Pet Projects for the Home” Pinterest board.