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Creating Cat-Friendly Outdoor Spaces

There’s an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of outdoor cats. However, many cats have a preference, and many truly like being outside because they have more stimulation and they can run around and exercise. If your cat spends a lot of time at the window or otherwise shows signs of wanting to head out to the backyard, you can let them, but you must first prepare the space. Here are some ideas for creating a cat enclosure and tips to keep your furry friends safe.

cat-friendly outdoors spaces like a catio provide a safe space for cats to explore outside

Build A Cat Enclosure

While your cat may be secure in the backyard if you have a high and sturdy fence, the best option is to create a cat enclosure. This will be a space that’s connected to the house or is secure in the yard and has four walls so your cat can’t escape and get into trouble. If you’re handy, you can make your own cat enclosure or purchase one that’s premade.

You can make a stand-alone wood structure and keep the cat safe inside by adding glass or escape-proof galvanized wire. Another idea is to construct a window box “catio” that is ideal for a small space or apartment if you get approval. This is typically installed on a second floor or higher, next to the window, so the cat can go in and out as it pleases.

Build a big enough enclosure, and your outdoor cat will likely be happy as can be. But if you want to up the ante, you can make multiple structures and construct cat tunnels between them so there’s more space to roam. You can also add bridges, towers, and stairs. It’s a good idea to add at least one type of climbing apparatus post since most indoor and outdoor cats like to climb.

If you do opt for your cat to go outdoors, it is important to groom them properly. In addition to removing any kind of debris or plant matter they may pick up while outside, doing so can also improve the air quality in your house, as pet hair can clog your HVAC system. You may also want to avoid placing your catio near your air vents to help avoid this issue.

Make The Space Cat And Owner-Friendly

Since you enjoy the company of your cat, you’ll likely want to spend time outside as well, so try to design a great outdoor space that everyone can appreciate. Map out spaces in your yard for both of you. So, one side may have the catio while the other has a hammock or crafts table where you sit. If you’ll be out there a lot, choose comfortable furniture. All-weather options like resin wicker and teak are sturdy and can sit outside for months at a time with few issues.

cat-friendly outdoor spaces can include places for you and kitty to spend time together

If you’re looking to beautify the yard, plant with purpose and find space for a standard garden or an elevated garden basket so you don’t have to bend down as much. Just like you want to avoid hazardous objects inside, you also need to think about the plants and flowers you have in the yard. Many plants, including tulips and jade plants, are toxic to cats, so do your research.

Luckily, there are many cat-friendly plants for your garden that can really beautify the space. Many non-toxic plants are very striking and will add texture to your yard, including Russian sage, roses, ice plants, and coral bells. Place these strategically around your garden, and your cat can roam among them without worry.

Add Cat-Friendly Perks

When you’re creating a space for a cat that loves being outside, it’s nice to add a few perks and conveniences that your pet may need and enjoy. One of them is a safe space or two. Add a table or dense shrubs near the entrance of the catio so the cat has somewhere to hide if it thinks the coast isn’t clear.

Next, consider a place for your cat to use the toilet. Cats typically like to use a safe and dedicated litter box when they’re indoors. While you can also put a litter box outside, other options exist, like a contained area filled with sand or wood chips. Set it up and see if the cat goes there. If not, try to hide the place with a bit of shrubbery.

Then, consider a space to provide the cat with fresh drinking water. That can be as easy as putting out a container that can catch rainwater. If your cat prefers tap water, use that instead. Finally, many cats enjoy soaking in the sun, so ensure there are some sunny areas in your yard and add a cushion for your cat for extra comfort.


You can create a nice cat-friendly outdoor space by adding a catio enclosure or making a few adjustments in the yard. Whatever you do, your feline friend will appreciate what you’ve done, and they’ll surely enjoy the space.

About the Author: Katie Brenneman

Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, and animal-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or snuggling with her cat, Clementine. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.


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