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Celebrating National Catio Day With Fluffy!

March 15, 2024

March 15th is a special day for Fluffy: it’s National Catio Day! Many of our feline patients have their own catios or cat enclosures. In this article, a Plano, IL veterinarian provides some helpful information on creating a private space for Fluffy.

What Exactly Is A Catio?

A catio is a term that combines the words cat and patio. Catios provide Fluffy with a secure area that includes aspects of the natural environment. 

Where Is The Best Location For My Catio?

A porch or patio with screens or walls is a great choice, but those aren’t the only options. A sun room, spare room, loft, or even a sunny corner will also work.

Why Is It Beneficial To Create A Catio?

The main advantage? This provides your furry friend with mental stimulation. Cats love to bask in sunbeams, enjoying long, peaceful naps and moments of deep relaxation. They also enjoy observing local wildlife and daydreaming about hunting. This can really help ensure your furry friend stays happy and entertained. Your pet will love having a cozy spot to enjoy her favorite activities: napping, observing birds and squirrels (and occasionally making clacking noises), basking in the sun, practicing meditation, and, of course, watching your every move.

Remember, there’s no need to surrender the space. Your furry friend won’t mind if you have some cozy furniture arranged for yourself. She’ll probably use it, too!

 What Should I Put On A Catio?

If it were up to your feline overlord, she would probably request wraparound cat shelves, kitty walks, cat wheels, and a stocked fishpond. However, you don’t have to go that far. 

  • A comfy window seat is a must. 
  • A cat tower is also an excellent choice. However, the extent to which your chosen area is affected by wind or rain will play a role. Having a screened-in area is wonderful, but you don’t want a carpet-covered tower getting wet in the rain.
  • A catio is a perfect spot for some lovely plants. (We’ll get to that later.)
  • For extra purrs, place a bird feeder within Fluffy’s view. (Note: this is only a good idea if your cat stays inside. Otherwise, you might unintentionally be leading the innocent birds to a tragic fate!)
  • Toys! This is an excellent location 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. There are doors available that are compatible with specific microchips, offering an extra layer of security.
  • Beds and boxes are always appreciated.
  • A kitty fountain may also be helpful.

Why Should I Keep My Cat Indoors?

Fluffy really enjoys rolling in driveways, leaving adorable pawprint tracks on freshly-washed cars, and occasionally bringing home unexpected gifts (usually dead rodents) for her humans. Unfortunately, these really aren’t safe hobbies for your furry pal. 

Cats that have the freedom to explore outdoors encounter a range of potential dangers. These include weather, traffic, wild animals, parasites, chemicals, and even other cats. Fluffy might end up stuck in a neighbor’s shed or some other place. She could also contract parasites, particularly if your cat enjoys hunting. In addition, if your cat is not spayed, she may also have offspring. Given the alarming issue of pet overpopulation, it’s only fitting to take this course of action.

Keeping your cat in also benefits local wildlife. Cats are responsible for the deaths of billions of small animals annually. Given the current state of many species facing threats and endangerment, it’s crucial for each of us to contribute in any way possible to support their well-being.

What Sets A Catio Apart From A Cat Enclosure?

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

You don’t have to make any structural changes to your home in order to set up an enclosure. Many people set up their windows to allow their furballs to come and go as they please. 

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

  • Cat enclosures require level ground. It might be helpful to even out the area a little.
  • Have fun decorating! This place is perfect for outdoor rugs, solar lights, and little garden statues.
  • You can buy these, or if you’re handy, you can find blueprints online and build your own.
  • You may want a setup that allows you to easily open and close your pet’s access way. That way you can allow her to freely move in and out when the weather is pleasant, while ensuring her safety indoors during the night or inclement weather. You can get kitty doors that fit into windows.
  • You can buy these, or if you’re handy, you can find blueprints online and build your own.
  • You may want a setup that allows you to easily open and close your pet’s access way. That way you can allow her to freely move in and out when the weather is pleasant, while ensuring her safety indoors during the night or inclement weather. You can get kitty doors that fit into windows.
  • Provide some sort of shade or covering.
  • Stay on top of Fluffy’s parasite prevention! Unfortunately, a cat enclosure doesn’t provide sufficient protection against fleas, ticks, or mosquitos. (This applies to all cats, including indoor ones.)
  • Mesh or fencing should be galvanized or vinyl-coated.
  • If there are snakes in your area, it might be a good idea to consider some extra measures to prevent them from entering your space.

Ask your Plano, IL veterinarian for more info about cat enclosures.

Why Do We Spoil Cats So Much? 

Fluffy definitely knows how to charm us and make us spoil her. What is it about that adorable face? Those adorable meows? Fluffy’s affectionate snuggles and soothing purrs? There’s something about these adorable little bundles of fur that never fails to put a smile on our faces and fill our lives with love and joy.

What Plants Are Safe For Fluffy’s Space? 

Catios and cat enclosures are great spots for plants. Just be sure to stick with non-toxic options. 

That said, here are some suitable options:


  • Bromeliads
  • Cast Iron Plants
  • Snake Plants
  • Money Tree Plants
  • Rubber Tree Plants
  • Spider Plants
  • Prayer Plants
  • Calathea Zebra Plant 
  • Boston Fern
  • Bird’s Nest Fern
  • Kimberly Queen Fern


  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Valerian
  • Cilantro

Potted trees:

  • Areca palms
  • Ponytail palms
  • Rubber Trees
  • Parlor Palms


  • African Violet
  • Orchids
  • Hibiscus
  • Roses

Avoid Sago palms, as they are extremely toxic to both dogs and cats.

You can visit the ASPCA website here for more information on both safe and unsafe plants. If you can’t make sure that something is safe or not, hold off and get something you’re sure is okay. 

Our Advice on Celebrating National Catio Day With Fluffy in 2024

What are some ways to provide a shaded area in a catio that isn’t directly adjacent to the house?

To provide shade in a catio that isn’t directly adjacent to the house, consider installing a canopy or awning that extends over the enclosure. Using durable, weather-resistant fabric will ensure long-lasting protection against the sun. Alternatively, placing large potted trees or tall shrubs around the perimeter of the catio can offer natural shade and enhance the enclosure’s aesthetic. For a more permanent solution, erecting a pergola or gazebo within the catio space can provide both shade and a structure for climbing plants, adding both functionality and visual appeal.

Can you introduce multiple cats to a catio together, or should it be done gradually?

Introducing multiple cats to a catio should be done gradually to ensure a smooth transition and to prevent territorial disputes. Start by allowing each cat individual time in the catio to explore and become comfortable with the new environment. Gradually increase their time together under close supervision, observing their interactions. If signs of aggression or stress appear, separate them and reintroduce more slowly. This methodical approach helps to establish a peaceful coexistence in the catio, fostering a safe and enjoyable space for all the cats involved.

How often should the catio or enclosure be cleaned, and what cleaning products are safe to use around cats?

The catio or enclosure should be cleaned at least once a week to maintain a hygienic environment for your cat. Use warm, soapy water for general cleaning and ensure all residues are thoroughly rinsed. For disinfection, opt for cat-safe products such as diluted vinegar or enzyme-based cleaners designed for pet spaces. Avoid ammonia, bleach, or phenol-based products, as they can be highly toxic to cats. Regularly clean and replace any fabric or soft materials, and ensure all surfaces are dry before allowing your cat back into the space.

Are there any catio designs or features that are especially good for senior cats or cats with limited mobility?

For senior cats or those with limited mobility, catio designs that minimize the need for climbing and jumping are ideal. Include ramps or steps with gentle inclines instead of ladders or high perches. Ensure the flooring is non-slip to aid in movement and reduce the risk of falls. Low window seats and accessible cozy hideaways provide comfort without necessitating strenuous effort. Additionally, incorporating extra padding and heated beds can offer comfort for aging joints, making the catio a soothing retreat for less agile cats.

Are there any common mistakes to avoid when constructing or setting up a catio?

When constructing or setting up a catio, common mistakes to avoid include using materials that aren’t durable or safe for cats, such as untreated wood that can rot or splinter. Ensure the structure is securely anchored to prevent tipping or collapsing. Avoid small gaps in fencing or mesh that could allow a cat to escape or become stuck. Also, ensure the catio is free from toxic plants or decorations that cats could ingest. Properly positioning the catio away from loud noises or high-traffic areas can prevent stress in cats.

Are you seeking answers regarding your cat’s health or care? Reach out to us at our Plano, IL animal hospital today!

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