Relishing a nap in the sun or observing the world from a safe, high spot are just two activities that all cats enjoy. Being able to do this outdoors is the icing on the cat cake – but what can you do if you have a particularly vulnerable feline? The answer is to create a cat-safe outdoor space.
From cat-proof fencing to cat enclosures and – newly arrived from the US – specially designed ‘catios’, owners now have a range of ways to enable deaf, disabled or nervous cats to enjoy time outside in a safe environment. In fact, the Royal Veterinary College has even recommended catios as a way for pets to enjoy wildlife and not be restricted to life indoors.
Commenting in The Telegraph, Alice Potter, RSPCA cat welfare expert, said: “Keeping your cat as a house cat keeps them away from busy roads but some indoor environments can become predictable and boring, which can lead to stress, inactivity and obesity. A cat patio which allows them to access a bit of the outdoors in a safe environment can be a good opportunity for cats who otherwise wouldn’t be able to experience the outdoors.”
So, what are the options?
Essentially, this comprises fence-top barriers that are designed to prevent your cat from clambering over the fence and also serve to keep out neighbouring felines. There are various systems available which affix wooden poles, arch topped fencing or netting to an existing fence. Some offer freestanding options.
These are metal and wire outdoor enclosures. Many are modular, so if you’re a DIY enthusiast, you can create a safe outdoor space to whatever size and specification you like, with a range of add-ons such as gates and accessories available.
A catio is simply an enclosure, screened on all sides and overhead, which extends from a window, doorway or porch. Tunnels can be added to lead from existing cat flaps in walls, doors and windows and shelves and climbing ramps can be provided for added interest.
Whatever outdoor space you choose, it should be designed to be a place where your cat can climb, scratch, smell the fresh air, watch what is going on in the neighbourhood and be:
- Safe, with nothing that your cat could sustain an injury from
- Have a variety of accessible shelves at different heights for your cat to explore
- Feature a cosy hiding place, out of the sun
- Provide scratching opportunities, with securely fixed scratching posts and a selection of toys
- Ideally contain some cat-friendly plants, such as bamboo, cat grass, catmint and lavender to enrich your cat’s outdoor experience
- Ideally feature a pet drinking water fountain, as many cats much prefer to drink moving water
Feline welfare charity International Cat Care has lots more advice on all the things to consider when creating a safe outdoor space for your cat, with tips on how to go about it
Protectapet– A friend and partner of International Cat Care, this company provides cat fencing, cat enclosures, cat balconies, cat runs and catios.
Katzecure – A system that uses wooden poles positioned onto an existing fence, which can be used to secure an entire garden.
Purrfectfence – Pivoting arched top fencing that can be added to an existing fence or be used free standing.
Secur-a-Cat – An overhang of netting that is secured to the top of an existing framework of solid garden fencing.
Woodenart – Bespoke outdoor cat enclosures and catios, made in the UK to fit a space in your garden or patio.
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