Creating a Catio Space for Cats and Their Humans

Do you want your indoor cats to live their best lives? You probably need a catio or outdoor space they can safely enjoy, and there are a few must-haves your fur babies will expect with it.

The traditional catio is completely enclosed for safe outdoor play. But even if you aren’t planning to build a screened catio, you can add features to your deck or balcony to give your cats outdoor time.

Happy cats in new shared catio space

My cats spend their days on my second story deck where they can monitor their territory and watch the squirrels while remaining out of reach of predators. There are no stairs, and it’s high enough that they don’t try to jump down to the backyard. The whole family (two- and four-legged) can enjoy the deck together.

Here are some ideas to make your deck or balcony the perfect catio oasis for cohabitating cats and humans. Warning: Excessive cat photos ahead.

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Cat Door to Save Us All Time

Cats need to come and go at their convenience. Anyone who has played the open-then-close-then-reopen-the-door game while their cat tries to decide if she wants in or out knows this. The cat door is the solution.

New cat door for catio space

Before getting a cat door, I used to leave the sliding door cracked during the day so the cats could access the catio. It made for a cold winter. Now when I wake up in the morning, I open up the cat door and Charlie heads right outside to his favorite chair. Jane casually wanders out later in the afternoon, after she’s had a full 15-hour night’s sleep.

The neutral colors of this cat door blend well with most decor, and you can shut it on the inside and outside when you don’t want the cats going outside, like when it’s dark or stormy.

It’s a little scary cutting into your house, but you can do it. Look for a part of the house that’s not exposed to too much weather. Get a stud finder to locate a spot without posts, plumbing or electrical. Make a test cut through the drywall to see what’s really behind the wall, and then follow the cat door installation instructions. You and your cats will love their new freedom.

Cozy Seating for Every Member of the Family

Catio seating for cats and humans to share

Everyone will be using the outdoor chairs, so make sure to find a set that is cat-approved. Avoid spinning or rolling chairs, and instead opt for something stable and comfortable for everyone.

I like this outdoor furniture set for the simple modern look with clean lines. The cushions are easy to clean, and they provide a flat surface for the cats to spread out and take a nap.

Related: Best modern patio furniture and decor

Attractive Plants, Especially Cat Grass

Cat enjoying fresh cat grass

We all need a little more greenery in our lives. In the warmer months, I move my indoor plants outside and fill up the deck. Humans like to look at them, and cats like to take naps under their shade. Here’s a list of toxic and non-toxic plants for cats that you can reference when choosing plants for your potted garden (scroll down on that page to see the non-toxic options).

Make sure your catio has cat grass for the kitties to snack on. You can buy cat grass (aka wheatgrass) seeds in bulk to satisfy your furball family. Every month or so when the grass dies down, I throw it into my compost pile and plant a new batch. Try to find a flower pot that is tall enough so that your cats don’t have to strain their necks. Feline ergonomics matter.

Related: Modern planters that are actually affordable

Hammock (Pretty Much Just for Cats)

Hammock for a catio space shared by humans and cats

Originally I thought this hammock was for me, but it was actually for my cats. Charlie and Jane spend lazy afternoons soaking up the sun in luxury, while I almost never have time to use it. The moments that we all get to share it are magical, though.

When choosing a hammock to share with your cats, look for one that is relatively stable. See how this one doesn’t swing because it’s not just a rope on each end but a metal bar that stays in place? That’s perfect for finicky felines.

Cat-Proof Outdoor Rug

Cozy outdoor rug for a shared catio space

To complete your shared catio space, you’ll need an outdoor rug that can handle claws and make the whole family happy. This rug is mid-century modern for me and Eric, and soft and durable for the cats.

It doubles as a cat scratch pad, but it holds up well. See the snags? The thick, textured yarn disguises the snags better than a more delicate rug would. Plus the snags add character.

Catios Are for Everyone

Humans and cats sharing an outdoor catio space

Catios don’t have to be just for your cats. Kitties are a part of the family and want to spend time with you outdoors. I hope you can use some of these tips to create a shared outdoor space for your furry and non-furry family members to share.

You might also like these decor ideas for cat lovers:


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5 thoughts on “Creating a Catio Space for Cats and Their Humans”

  1. Your Catio is most definately a wonderful place for the kitties and humans..love spending time out there..very relaxing and the view is amazing! You have created a great space for everyone to enjoy the great outdoors!!

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  2. This looks lovely! Any cat would be lucky to have this space. I don’t have a cat, but you gave me some good ideas for gifts for my cat-loving friends!

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