It’s part of a cat’s natural instinct to explore its environment. Allowing your cat to roam outside has numerous benefits for their mental and physical wellbeing as it ensures they get plenty of exercise, express their natural behaviour and reduces their stress.
However, if they like to explore further than your garden this could make them susceptible to danger. They could consume a poisonous plant, get lost or be involved in a traffic accident – any pet owner’s worst nightmare!
Luckily for you, there are ways to let your cat outside, so they can do all the fun stuff like sunbathing, but at the same time, keeping in the garden. We have three cats, and two go where they please, but the third has had to be kept in the garden for health reasons. Here are some solutions we looked at:
Cat-Proof Fencing Guide
In this article I’ve listed a few ways to stop your cat from escaping, but we’ll start with the most popular – and that’s a cat-proof fence. You might also be interested in this if you want to keep other people’s cats out of your garden, too.
Install a Metal (Not Wooden) Fence
Cats have excellent climbing and jumping abilities, and their claws mean that they can climb most things. Wooden fences are no good here, because they just dig their claws in and up they go.
However, installing a metal fence should stop your cat from being able to climb up at all as they can’t get grip on the smooth metal. Don’t choose a fancy design – any swirly details will be treated as cat steps.
Ensure that the fence itself is tall enough so that your cat can’t just jump over it, an average cat can jump up to 2.4 metres (7.8ft) so your fence should be higher than this!
A Fence Topper on an Existing Fence
If you already have a wooden fence, it’s usually not going to be worth the effort and expense to take it down and put a metal one up instead.
There is a solution, though. Your garden can be cat-proofed by putting up by adding a fence topper to your existing fence.
Fences don’t often deter cats on their own so the fence topper is the thing that will stop your cat from escaping and it can be constructed in multiple ways.
Tips on Fence Toppers:
- The fence topper should be constructed at a right angle from the top of the fence
- It should jut out for at least half a metre
- The wire itself can be stapled to the wooden fence or you can attach angled metal brackets to the fence and then tie some form of wire, such as chicken wire, to these brackets.
- You can use either a fixed framework or stretcher wires with brackets. The fence topper itself can be made from rigid or soft wiring, with rigid wiring probably being more durable but could also be easier for your cat to climb. Think of a wobbly tightrope rather than a wire-step!
- If you are still worried that your cat may be able to climb on this topper, you can add another horizontal section that is parallel to the original fence. A cat is unlikely to be able to climb both sections, so will drop back into the garden and will be unable to escape.
If your garden has a gate, remember to add the topper on top of this too! It can be constructed in the same way, but just not attached to the sections on either side so that the gate can still be opened.
You’ll need to block the bottom of the gate too, this can be done with chicken wire, leaving just enough room at the bottom so it doesn’t catch on the ground, or placing a large paving stone to block the gap.
Don’t forget – it’s probably a good idea to ask your neighbours for permission if you share fences before building anything! Also, depending on the height of the fence, there may be planning implications as well.
For a more in-depth guide to installing mesh fencing on top of your existing fence, take a read of this guide here.
How To Stop Your Cat Climbing The Fence
If you want to stop your cat climbing or jumping the fence entirely, there are a few things that you can try.
- Cat deterrent – A cat deterrent is a battery operated device that uses motion detection to sense when your cat is approaching. It will then emit a high pitched noise that cats don’t like which, after a few times, will ensure that they don’t go near the fence at all.
- Natural deterrents – Placing a natural deterrent close to the fence will stop your cat from going near the fence and ensure they won’t climb up it. For example, a citrus scent is offensive to a cat’s nose so planting citrus-smelling plants will ensure your cat stays away.
- Train your cat – Although not a short-term solution, one way to stop your cat from climbing up the fence is to train them not to. Some cats are more easily trained than others, however. Every time your cat goes outside, go with them. If they approach the fence make a loud noise or hiss at them to deter them from approaching. If you keep this up, eventually your cat will not want to approach the fence as they are expecting you to make a noise that they don’t like.
Outdoor Cat Enclosures (AKA Catios)
Sometimes, a fence or topper isn’t always practical, especially if you share fences with your neighbours or have a communal garden. It also doesn’t stop neighbouring cats getting into your garden from the outside, and then getting stuck as they can’t climb back out.
In this case, a purpose-built cat enclosure may be a better option for you. The enclosure can be built wherever you want it to be, but works best when it allows the cat access to a cat flap or open door so it can get in and out as it pleases and you don’t have to place the cat into the enclosure each time.
However, if this is not possible then you can work around this by giving them some sort of house to shelter in until you can bring them back inside. Here’s a popular one on Amazon:
The enclosure can be made from wire or PVC and can have a roof, or can have an overhang as described previously to prevent your cat from escaping.
If the enclosure allows your cat access to the house and you leave the cat out when you’re not home, make sure there is no way for anyone to enter the enclosure and use it to get into your home.
A cat run is generally smaller than a cat enclosure, but they can be tailored to suit yours and your pet’s needs.
They can be built horizontally or vertically depending on how much space you’ve got and you can often buy them pre-built, although constructing your own can be cheaper.
A cat run can also help to protect local wildlife (i.e. songbirds!) from your curious cat and can keep your pet away from potentially harmful plants in your garden.
Cat Balcony (Cat Netting)
If you live in a flat with a balcony, but are scared to let your cat outside in case it escapes over the railings – don’t worry! Your balcony can be cat proofed just as much as a garden can. Use floor to ceiling netting to cat proof any ledges so that they can’t climb up and jump off.
Here’s a video by a Canadian company, illustrating how “cat netting” works on a high rise flat:
You could also build a miniature cat enclosure or cat run if you don’t want to completely block off your balcony, however this may not provide them with as much space if your balcony is small.
Attaching roller bars to the top of your fence will stop your cat being able to jump over the fence.
Although they’re pretty stable on their feet, the roller bars will move every time your cat touches them making them feel uneasy, forcing them to jump back into your garden.
These tend to be more expensive than simple wire, but they’re pretty effective because they will always move when the cat puts its weight on the bars.
Anti-cat spikes sound terrible and scary, but they have blunted spikes.
These spikes are attached to the top of your fence to stop them climbing atop the fence. The spikes are blunt enough to not cause any harm to your cat, but they will not like the sensation under their feet when they walk on them.
Ensure that the fence is high enough so that they can’t simply jump over the spikes. I’ve not tried these myself, but have heard a couple of people saying they’re effective.
Other Solutions For Cat-Proofing
Before constructing anything to stop your cat escaping (or spending money), you may want to consider resolving any issues that may push your cat to resort to this behaviour in the first place.
Some things to consider:
Are You Providing Enough Food And Water?
One of the reasons your cat may wish to jump over the fence is in search of further food. As the owner of a greedy cat I know that this is sometimes not something you can easily control.
However, it might be one of those obviously overlooked things – ensure that you’re meeting their needs, otherwise your cat will have no choice but to jump the fence. Check that you don’t have a cat-loving neighbor who is feeding your cat tasty treats when they visit them, or they’ll always try to go there.
Provide A Safe Environment
Make sure that you’re providing your cat a safe environment that they won’t want to escape. This includes keeping them away from any children’s rough play, loud noises, or things that may scare them.
Cats are VERY territorial and sometimes get stressed, or react badly to new arrivals (babies or new pets), so try to introduce new things gradually to them.
Neuter Your Cat
Neutering your cat (whether they’re male or female) will provide multiple benefits, but many people don’t realise that neutering can also make a cat less likely to roam away from home.
Accompany Your Cat When They Are Outdoors
Perhaps a last resort, as it needs your time and effort, but you could allow your cat to roam freely in your outdoor space, but do so whilst under your supervision. This way you can ensure they’re not going anywhere you don’t want them to go, but are still giving them freedom to explore outside.
After reading this article, I hope you’ve found all the information that you were looking for. Remember, if you’re still unsure about what’s best for your cat, consult your vet – they’ll usually be more than happy to help!