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, your Dawsonville, GA veterinarian provides some information on creating a private space for Fluffy.

What Exactly Is A Catio?

A catio is a term derived from the combination of “cat” and “patio”. The idea is to provide Fluffy with a secure and comfortable environment that brings a touch of the outdoors inside. Your furry friend will have a designated space to enjoy her favorite pastimes, such as napping, observing wildlife, basking in the sunlight, finding inner peace, and perhaps even playfully grabbing your sleeve or batting at your shoelaces … all while staying safe and sound indoors.

Where Should I Put My Catio?

You can choose any location! You have various options available, such as a screened or enclosed porch or patio, sun room, spare room, loft, or a sunny corner!

What Are The Benefits Of Building A Catio?

This allows you to provide your pet with a space where she can experience a touch of nature and enjoy a pleasant view, while protecting her from the dangers of going outdoors.

What is the main advantage? This provides mental stimulation for your cat. Cats love to bask in sunbeams, peacefully dozing and finding their inner zen. They also have a keen interest in observing local wildlife and daydreaming about hunting. These simple pleasures can definitely contribute to Fluffy’s overall well-being and happiness. 

Remember, there’s no need to surrender the space. Your furry buddy won’t be perturbed if you have some cozy furniture arranged for yourself! 

How Do I Decorate 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 to such extremes. 

We do suggest creating a cozy window perch for your pet. A cat tower, of course, is also an excellent choice. Plants, of course, are a must (We’ll get to that later.) 

What Should I Consider When Designing A Catio? 

Fluffy will be delighted if you put a bird feeder within her view. That will provide her with ongoing live entertainment! However, we only suggest this option if your cat remains indoors. Otherwise, you might unintentionally be attracting the birds to their doom!

This is an excellent location for items such as swimming fish toys, automated laser pointers, and similar products.

Things like rugs, fountains, and statues can all add a touch of zen. 

If your patio is separate from the rest of the house, you might want to consider installing a cat door. This will allow Fluffy to freely access her catio whenever she pleases. There are doors available that are compatible with specific microchips, offering an extra layer of security.

Why Should You Keep Your Cat Indoors?

Cats are naturally curious and love exploring their surroundings. Fluffy also enjoys rolling in driveways, leaving pawprint tracks on freshly washed cars, and occasionally bringing home deceased animals as gifts for her humans. 

Unfortunately, engaging in these activities can expose a curious little furball to considerable risks. Cats that have the freedom to explore outdoors encounter various dangers. These include weather, traffic, wild animals, parasites, chemicals, and even other cats. There is a possibility that Fluffy could become trapped in a neighbor’s shed. There is a higher chance of parasites, particularly if your cat enjoys hunting. In addition, if your cat is not spayed, she may also have offspring. It’s important to address the issue of pet overpopulation, and taking action is the responsible choice. If your pet hasn’t been fixed, contact your Dawsonville, GA animal clinic right  away  to schedule this.

Grounding your furry pal can also help local wildlife. Unfortunately, cats prey upon small animals in large numbers, killing billions annually. With so many species being threatened and endangered, it is 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 take the catio to a whole new level. These are typically arranged outside the home. Fluffy remains shielded from potential threats by a protective barrier, typically made of mesh, chicken wire, screens, or similar materials.

This is an excellent choice for pet owners who have active and curious cats and a suitable space for a cat enclosure. There’s no need to make any structural modifications to your home to set up an enclosure. Many people set up theirs using their windows as kitty access points, allowing their kitties to come and go at will.

When creating an enclosure, it’s important to take a few factors into account.

  • Consider a system that allows you to easily control Fluffy’s access. That way you can allow your pet to freely enjoy the outdoors during pleasant weather, while ensuring her safety indoors during the night or inclement conditions. Pet doors or pet window doors are good options.
  • For a catio to be properly constructed, it is important to have a level ground and potentially a foundation. You might have to even out the area a little.
  • You’ll need to provide some sort of shade or covering.
  • Stay on top of Fluffy’s parasite prevention! A cat enclosure does not provide sufficient protection against fleas, ticks, or mosquitos. (This is applicable to all kitties, including those that primarily stay indoors.)
  • If you use mesh or fencing, pick something that was crafted from galvanized or vinyl-coated wire.
  • If there are snakes in your area, as there are here in Georgia, you may need to take extra precautions.

Which Plants Are Safe For A Catio?

Every catio should have some greenery! Just be sure to stick with safe ones. 

Flowers: If you’re looking to add a vibrant touch, consider choosing an African violet. Several types of orchids, hibiscuses, roses, and impatiens are also considered safe options. 

Herbs: Do you enjoy cooking? It might be worth considering incorporating some culinary herbs into your dishes. All of the herbs that we mentioned are perfectly safe and suitable for use.

Houseplants: Some good choices include 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. 

Potted Trees: If you’re interested in getting some potted trees, you might consider Areca palms, Ponytail palms, and Parlor palms. They are all great choices. Avoid Sago palms, as they are highly toxic to dogs and cats.

For more information, you can visit the ASPCA website here.

When arranging plants, always prioritize Fluffy’s safety. Large and heavy pots should be placed on the floor. Avoid placing objects on unstable stands to prevent any accidents. For example, if your cat tries to chew or paw at a trailing leaf, she could potentially knock over the plant and harm herself.

Which Plants Are Toxic To Cats?

It’s also crucial to know what should be excluded. Lilies are at the top of that list: they are deadly to our feline pals. Simply drinking the water can lead to serious, and potentially fatal, outcomes. That includes all sorts of lilies, including Peace lily, Asiatic lily, Day lily, Japanese Show lily, Rubrum lily, Tiger lily, and Wood lily, as well as numerous hybrids. 

Other plants that are harmful to pets include tulips, daffodils, eucalyptus, Devil’s Ivy (also known as pothos), taro vine, golden pothos, oleanders, and philodendrons. If you’re unsure about the safety of something, it’s always best to be cautious and choose an alternative option. Ask your Dawsonville, GA  vet for more information. 

Schedule An Appointment With Your Dawsonville, GA Animal Clinic

Do you need any assistance regarding your cat’s health or care? Get in touch with us at our Dawsonville, GA animal hospital today!