Picture a flat expanse of a featureless grass field. The simplest of yards requires only a (Purrfect Fence) cat-proof fence to form a flawless cat containment enclosure. Other than being sure to install the fence correctly, no other efforts or considerations are needed. Install that same fence in a similar field but with a tree and the dynamic changes. Cats can climb trees. If the cat climbs the tree, can they drop onto the top of the cat-proof fence? Can they walk out a branch and jump to the top of the cat-proof fence?
The typical back yard has more in it than grass and one tree. Think of all the things in your backyard.. trees, shrubs, tables, chairs, grills, etc. Now think of the part of the house that would be included in the fenced area (usually one of the sides of your fence is the house). AC units, utility boxes, window sills, decks, steps, railings, etc. All these things and more can be used by your cat to circumvent an otherwise well-done cat containment fence system. For this reason, any yard looking to be secured for cat containment needs to be carefully examined for anything a cat could use to their advantage. Let's begin by considering things that cannot be easily moved first.
Trees are common in yards and one of the first things people do think of when they think about creating a cat-proof fence in their yard. Trees can be easy to handle or a lot of work and it comes down to what kind of tree, how big is it and how close it is to the fence line. A tree with no low branches (high canopy) can be easily rendered “unclimbable”. This is done by securing a hard and smooth material around the tree in such a way that it does not harm the tree. We created a simple tutorial to help you plan for this concept. This method works for most trees with no low branches. Larger trees that are against or very close to the fence may be better handled by using arms on the tree to “walk” the arch of the cat-proofer top around the tree trunk. Shrubs and bushes needed to be carefully examined in the same kind of way. Can a cat climb it and jump from it? If so, it may need to be cut short, cut down or relocated. Occasionally a tree, trees or shrubs need to be “boxed out” of the cat-secure area completely. There is a solution for almost every tree and shrub/bush situation using the Purrfect Fence system.
The biggest concern in this department is the cat being able to jump on top of the cat fence or onto the house roof. Its time to think like a cat. Take a look at the structures attached to your house and consider what a cat can do if they climb or jump from them. First, look at the structures near your home or buildings to see if a cat could use them to get on the roof. Are there posts to climb? A railing near a low roof? The best answer may be to treat any posts like a tree and wrap them in something smooth and hard like aluminum flashing. Railings may be a bit trickier. For example, placing large items on them like potted plants or even switch a wood rail for a plastic or metal option?
Next, look to see if a cat could possibly jump to the arch-over portion of a cat fence system, at least where you are planning to put it. If a yes or maybe came up, you may be able to rethink where you end your fence at the house. If you were thinking about ending the fence at the back of the house, maybe making the enclosure wider and turning into the sides of the house would solve the problem.
AC units always seem to be in just the right place for a cat to jump onto and then launch themselves over the fence. This goes for other utility boxes both within the yard or on the house. The question you have to ask yourself is; can a cat jump onto it and then jump onto the top of the fence topper, onto a roof or onto any other structure that they could then circumvent or get on top of your cat fence topper?
Once you identify what, if any, AC/utility structures within the area to be fenced could be used, it is now time to start thinking about what may stop the cats from being able to use them. A small utility box on the side of the house could be blocked with a short section of strategically-placed PVC pipe, bird spikes or even a potted plant. It just needs to be made so the cat cannot land on it. With the wide array of locations and shapes of these items, it is very much a custom fix to determine what will work best for you.
Doing the same thing to an AC unit near the fence is a bit more challenging. Nothing can completely cover the top or it won’t get the airflow it needs to function. A wood frame could be made that sits on top of the AC top and holds a slippery material (like metal flashing or Plexiglas) at an angle. Think of an A-frame roof with the ends open that overhang the edges. A cat cannot jump on top without sliding off and if they jump in-between the “roof” and the top of the unit, the roof blocks them from jumping towards the fence topper. An out-of-the-box solution we recently developed can be seenhere.
Sheds offer great storage and utility in a back yard. Unfortunately, they offer benefits to cats looking to escape as well. Think about your cat getting on the roof of it and where they can go from there. If you have a gambrel/barn-roof style shed you may have your work cut out for you if it is near the fence line. Sheds with higher roofs are a bit easier to deal with. Sheds very near the fence line can often be incorporated into the fence by ending the fence topper against one side and restarting it on the other. In more tricky situations the exterior of the shed itself can be outfitted with cat fencing. Depending on the distance between the shed and fence (for existing fences), some amount of filling the gap may be needed.
These structures, like sheds and pretty much everything else discussed previously can lead to cats getting high enough to jump on top of your cat fence or to some other thing that will allow them to then get over your cat fence. The good thing about these structures is that typically all you need to do is wrap a sheet metal like flashing around the support posts. If you use powder-coated aluminum flashing, the color may match your structure already or a quick paint job over the powder coating will take care of it.
We have gone over most fixed location stuff but there are many other things in your yard that can be a cat escape accomplice. Think about all the things in your back yard… grills, trash/recycling containers, benches, chairs tables, umbrellas (in the down position). These are things that can be jumped/climbed onto and jumped from. If they are near your fence OR your house or shed roof, you may have just given your cat an escape route. The simple fix is to move anything moveable a cat can use to somewhere they can’t. This may be inconvenient but you are doing all this for the ultimate convenience, to let your cat outside safely.
Purrfect Fence has a team of cat experts & engineers available to you for the purpose of making your enclosure as secure as possible. We are here to help you every step of the way with anything you need! Get in touch and start the process of creating a cat-safe outdoor space for your cat(s)!