How to Make Your Patio Dog or Cat Friendly

Comment aménager votre terrasse pour votre chien ou chat

Creating a cat patio, a dog patio or a general outdoor space that makes your furry family members feel loved and catered to requires planning, dedication and follow-through. Whether you’re looking to craft a pet-friendly space for the first time, maximize safety and comfort in an existing locale or incorporate pet-specific add-ons that dial up the fun for your fur baby, these ideas will help!

In this guide

1. Assess your space

When designing a designated pet-lounging space, it’s vital to keep your four-legged friend’s behavioural tendencies in mind and plan accordingly.

Measuring a wooden patio fence with a tape measure.

Cats: To get started, you need to consider your feline’s typical behaviour and capacity for mischief. Close up sizeable gaps in your balcony rails or fencing, and remember that patio furniture and/or trees may encourage your kitty to climb and/or wander. If you’re concerned they’ll embark on a trek, try to be purposeful about building an enclosed cat patio that will keep them safely contained.[1]

Dogs: Creating a space that’s safe and sturdy is key, so now’s the time to ensure there aren’t any large gaps in your fence or balcony and that there aren’t objects or perches your dog could use to launch themselves into a neighbour’s house—or onto the street. Since many dogs love to dig, it’s also essential that you check established fencing to prevent ground escapes.[2]

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2. Think safety first

As kids need childproofed zones to keep them safe, so do pets. Take the time to carefully evaluate their designated area(s) and ensure it’s free of hazards.

A cat in an outdoor cat enclosure in a backyard.

Cats: Cat enclosures are a brilliant way to allow your kitty to enjoy the fresh air while remaining safe from moving vehicles and roaming predators. Consider modifying an existing pergola or adding a cozy and simple window box using lumber and escape-proof wire or mesh.[1] Build a cat door to your screen or window to provide them with easy come-and-go access.

Dogs: In addition to making sure your patio or yard is safely enclosed, take time to check that all gates function and lock properly. Also, be sure to assess fences (even small holes or openings can become escape points)[2] and check your pooch’s walking paths for thorn patches, glass shards or similar objects that could damage their paws.


Since patios, decks and yards can be catchalls for various items, it’s important to remember that some (think: chemical-laden bottles, sharp BBQing utensils, lighters and more) can be hazardous to your pet. Do your best to keep these items safely stored away from your four-legged love!

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3. Think about comfort and stimulus

You’ve created a tailored space for Fluffy and/or Fido. Bravo! Now it’s time to focus on making said space welcoming, fun and one they’ll want to frequent.

A dog napping on a blue dog bed outdoors

Cats: Felines love taking in a view, so consider incorporating one or more elevated freestanding or built-in perches into their zone. Layer the space with toys and/or scratching posts, and try to add shade if their designated area has copious amounts of sun. Don’t forget to work a cushioned bed into the mix!

Dogs: Every pup loves a cool and shady unwinding zone, so ensure that you’re creating a calming station in a naturally covered area or one that’s outfitted with an oversized umbrella. Add a washable outdoor bed and chew toy to dial up the cozy factor. If you have the time and budget, consider incorporating a doggy door for your good boy or girl to easily access their outdoor space.


If you haven’t already considered using removable, waterproof fabric covers for your outdoor furniture and pets’ beds, it’s time. Not only do they enable you to easily deal with inevitable pet-related stains and smells, but you’re also less likely to encounter issues with mould and mildew that often arise when fabrics are left uncovered outdoors.[3][4]

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4. Cover the necessities

While you’re prettying up their space, don’t forget to provide your kitty or pup with the basics they’ll need to make the most of their outdoor abode.

Two Corgi puppies on a patio with a metal water dish.

Cats: To keep your feline hydrated, consider an outdoor water fountain that a) supplies a continual stream of fresh water and b) isn’t easily knocked over. Be mindful about keeping food, which is likely to attract bugs and pests, and add a litter box designed for outdoor use to the mix. Finally, round out the space with fun kitty toys and a scratching post!

Dogs: Hydration stations are a must for any doggie patio. Choose a water fountain or bowl that’s meant to be outdoors (read: it should be rust-resistant), sturdy enough to withstand a case of the zoomies and able to contain multiple cups of water. If you have space, you may want to also consider adding a plastic kiddie pool or a sprinkler to help keep your pooch extra cool as they play!


From sharp claws to muddy paws, pets sometimes have an innate ability to wreak havoc on patio furniture. What is the easiest way to avoid issues? Choose durable and not easily chewed materials like wrought iron, aluminum or wood.

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5. Think about plants

Looking to add a calming layer of greenery to their space? Start planting! Just be sure to choose safe, non-toxic, pet-friendly options.

Cats: While there’s a long list of plants that are considered toxic for cats—think: lilies, daffodils, oleanders, tulips, foxglove, morning glory, tiger lily, azalea, English ivy and more—there are also a variety of options that cats can freely enjoy, including wheat grass, basil, pansies and catnip!

Dogs: As with cats, dogs can become very ill when eating seemingly harmless plants. Choose options like camellias, marigolds, fuchsias, sunflowers, creeping thyme and Japanese forest grass to keep Fido safe. If you’re concerned about your greenery being dug up, consider fencing or roping them off. You can also add a pebble or smooth-rock ground cover to deter digging.[5]

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6. Don’t forget to enjoy the space with your family

Now that you’ve customized your pet patio, be purposeful about making it a gathering hub for your family!

Cats: While it’s likely that your feline will *insist* on having at least one designated lounging spot of their own, your family should make the most of the remaining patio space by adding warm-weather furniture to kick back and relax on. Ensure that everyone is ready to pet, rub and nuzzle at a moment’s notice, and keep a stash of fun cat toys on hand for frisky moments!

Dogs: Want to take your pooch patio to the next level? Pull up a chair! Not only will Fido love the company, but using the space for BBQs, family game nights or sunset-viewing parties will add a layer of function to an already useful space. Be sure to keep some dog-friendly toys at the ready—think a rubber frisbee or a tennis ball blaster—to entertain (and exhaust) your canine cutie!

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Liz Bruckner is a seasoned writer and editor who has been writing about all things lifestyle for more than 15 years. She’s contributed to Today’s Parent, Canadian Living, House & Home, The Toronto Star, The National Post and more. She lives in Central Ontario with her husband and three rambunctious boys and may or may not be known for her deep love for baked goods.

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