Cats love to be outside.
There are ways we can keep our cats safe outside. Many people find that their cats take quite readily to leashes and harnesses. Always attach leashes or tethers to a harness, not a collar–some cats can pull out of their collars when on a leash and a cat can strangle if the tether gets twisted around plants or furniture.
Cat yards are enclosed areas outside where cats can explore, sun themselves and enjoy fresh air. They can be as simple as a screened porch or push-out window, or as complex as a multi-storied out-building with covered walkways connected to your house. You can even create a free-standing enclosure with wire fencing and bird netting.
Whether you’re building a yard yourself, or purchasing a commercial system, here are a few things to consider:
- Ease of entry/exit for the cats and for you. Using a window is handy because you can easily control your cats’ access in either direction. A cat flap door can be installed in a window or wall. A human-sized door lets you get in easily to clean and get to the cats if needed.
- Places to snooze in the sun make the yard a place the cats want to be. Your cat yard should have plenty of comfortable sleeping spots. Perches and ramps are fun, too. Varying heights and sizes keep things interesting. A nearby, but out of reach, bird feeder or bath provides hours of free “Kitty TV”.
- Security—determined cats can dig, climb and tear their way out of any enclosure that’s not built to last. Check for screening that could be pushed out, edges that could be torn, doors that don’t latch tightly and soft soil or sand that could be scraped away by a busy paw.
- Safety—double check that there are no sharp wires or nails to poke your cat. Ramps should be rough textured so that cats don’t slip, especially in the rain. (Yes, they will go out in the rain…)
We have used three kinds of cat yards. One is a wood framed structure that sits next to the house. The top and sides are covered with chicken wire and there is a human-sized screen door so that we can get in and play, too. It has perches and climbing ramps and the cats get to it through a commercial cat flap/door installed in a piece of plywood inserted into a window. It cost about $150 to build and was installed in a weekend.
The other cat yard is essentially our entire back yard. It has a 6’ wooden fence around all sides, but the slats were wide enough apart for a cat to squeeze through. To make it “cat proof”, we stapled a 4’ high length of chicken wire along the fence, with a curl of the wire near the top so that they can’t jump or climb over. It wasn’t the most attractive part of the landscaping, but was secure and was very inexpensive. This method worked well for several years, until we upgraded to one of the commercial systems.
If you have questions, or would like us to take a look at the cat-safety issues at your home, just give us a call!