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Happy National Catio Day!
March 15, 2024

March 15th is a special day for Fluffy: it’s National Catio Day! A number of our feline patients have their own catios or cat enclosures. In this article, a Southern Lake County, FL  veterinarian provides some insights on creating a private space for Fluffy.

What Exactly Is A Catio?

A catio is a term that combines the words cat and patio. The concept is to provide Fluffy with a secure area that incorporates certain aspects of the natural environment. Your pet will have a cozy haven to enjoy her favorite pastimes: taking peaceful naps, observing the fascinating world of birds and squirrels (and occasionally making playful sounds), basking in the warm sunlight, finding inner peace through meditation, and, of course, playfully assessing your every move.

Why Should I Keep Fluffy Indoors?

Our feline pals are known for their curious nature and love to explore their surroundings. Fluffy also enjoys rolling in driveways, leaving paw print tracks on freshly washed cars, and occasionally bringing home unexpected gifts—usually in the form of dead animals—for her humans. 

To be fair, kitties do benefit from the exercise, fresh air, and stimulation they get outdoors. Unfortunately, these activities can present considerable dangers to an inquisitive little furball. Some of the hazards outdoor cats face include weather, traffic, wild animals, parasites, chemicals, and even other cats. There’s also a chance that Fluffy might contract parasite, or perhaps find herself stuck in a neighbor’s shed or some other place. 

In addition, kitties that aren’t spayed may have offspring. Doing this is absolutely the right thing to do, especially considering the issue of pet overpopulation.

A catio provides your beloved pet with the perfect combination of indoor and outdoor living. Your furry friend can bask in the warm sunlight and observe the playful antics of birds and squirrels while staying secure and protected indoors.

In addition, it is important to mention that this practice also contributes to the protection of local wildlife. Kitties are responsible for the deaths of billions of small animals annually. Given the large number of species that are currently at risk of extinction, it really is important for each and every one of us animal lovers to do everything in our power to help them.

How Is A Catio Different From A Kitty Enclosure?

Cat enclosures elevate the catio experience to new heights. These are typically set up outside the house. Fluffy remains shielded from potential predators by a protective barrier, which is typically made of mesh, chicken wire, screens, or similar materials.

There’s no need to make any structural changes to your home in order to set up an enclosure. A lot of people set them up so that their kitties can use a window to get in and out. You can buy enclosures, but, if you’re up for it, you have the option to get creative by finding plans online to build your own.

When it comes to creating an enclosure, there are a few important factors to keep in mind.

  • For a catio to be built properly, it’s important to have level ground and possibly a foundation. Evening out the area a little with gravel may suffice.
  • You can definitely spruce up the catio. This place is perfect for outdoor rugs!
  • It’s important to ensure there is some form of shade or covering.
  • You may want a setup that allows you to easily open and close your pet’s access way. That way you can allow Fluffy to freely move in and out when the weather is pleasant, while ensuring her safety indoors during the night or inclement weather.
  • Remember to stay on top of Fluffy’s parasite prevention! A cat enclosure won’t protect Fluffy from fleas, ticks, or mosquitos. (This is applicable to all cats, including those who live indoors.)
  • When considering mesh fencing options, choose a material that has been crafted from galvanized or vinyl-coated wire. 
  • You may want to take additional measures to snake-proof the enclosure. 

Contact your Southern Lake County, FL veterinarian for additional details regarding cat enclosures.

Where Should I Place My Catio?

Anywhere you prefer! There are many great choices for creating a safe and enjoyable outdoor space for your furry friend. You can also utilize a sunroom, spare room, loft, or even a sunny corner!

Why Make A Catio?

A catio will provide your pet with a space where she can experience a touch of nature and enjoy a pleasant view. That can really help in ensuring your furry friend’s happiness and amusement.

Remember, there’s no need to surrender the space. Your furry friend won’t be bothered if you have some cozy furniture arranged for yourself. This may become your favorite reading or coffee niche! 

What Sort Of Things Should I Put On A Catio?

If it were up to Fluffy, she would probably request wraparound cat shelves, kitty walks, cat wheels, and a stocked fishpond. However, there’s no need to go overboard. It would be a great idea to create a cozy window seat. A cat tower, of course, is a great option for your feline friend. However, your furry friend will also find joy in lounging on an armchair, or perhaps even curling up on a cozy chest or ottoman adorned with soft folded blankets.

However, this will depend to some degree on whether the area you select is exposed to wind or rain. It’s fantastic to have a screened-in area, but you might not want to place a tower covered with carpet in an area where it would get wet.

Consider putting a bird feeder up, where Fluffy can see it. Of course, we would only suggest this option if your cat remains indoors. Otherwise, you might unintentionally be attracting the unfortunate birds to a perilous fate!

Toys are fine, too. This is a wonderful place for items such as swimming fish toys, automated laser pointers, and similar products.

If your patio is separate from the rest of the house, you might want to think about installing a cat door for Fluffy. This way, she can freely come and go from her catio whenever she pleases. Some pet doors can be paired with specific microchips, offering an extra layer of security.

What Plants Should I Put On A Catio?

Every catio needs some greenery! You can consider including Spider plants, Bromeliads, Money Tree plants, Rubber Tree plants, Cast Iron plants, Rattlesnake plants, Prayer plants, and the Calathea Zebra plant. Several types of ferns, such as the Boston fern, Bird’s Nest fern, and Kimberly Queen fern, are also considered safe. For flowers, you can go with African violets, orchids, hibiscuses, roses, or impatiens. Herbs are also a great option, and are handy to have for cooking. If you’re interested in getting some potted trees, Areca palms, Ponytail palms, and Parlor palms are all great choices. 

You’ll also need to know what not to include. Lilies are definitely at the top of that list. They can pose a serious threat to our beloved cats. Simply drinking the water can be deadly to Fluffy! Other toxic plants include tulips, daffodils, eucalyptus, Devil’s Ivy (also known as pothos), taro vine, golden pothos, oleanders, and philodendrons. 

For more information on safe and unsafe plants, visit the ASPCA website here. If you’re unsure about the safety of something, it’s always better to be cautious and choose an alternative option.

Schedule An Appointment With Your Southern Lake County, FL Animal Clinic

Do you have questions about your kitty’s health or care? Contact us, your Southern Lake County, FL animal clinic, today!