Letting your cat outside is something of a curiosity for many cat owners. We don’t think twice about letting our dogs out, but some feel that cats are to be locked inside. Luckily for the kitties, the overall well being of cats has been the subject of great debate over the past few years and creating safe outdoor space for cats is gaining in popularity for the many mental and physical benefits for cats.
There are several methods that are available for creating an outdoor cat enclosure. They take multiple forms and configurations, some even being portable. The smallest provide enough open-air area for a cat to stand, sit and turn around while the largest can be so sprawling a cat would be hard-pressed to utilize the entire protected area in a long afternoon. Each general concept is made for different scenarios but all are made to let your cat bask in nature and get take in the sights, sounds, and textures of the great outdoors.
Below we review each of the most popular ideas to get your started on your path to discovering the right fit for you, your space, and your kitty!
The smallest in size are the window boxes. These small structures are usually window insert units and give the cat up to about a maximum of 6 square feet of space. They typically incorporate a locking cat door for controlling kitty access. They are most appropriate for apartment dwellers looking to give their cats some fresh air. They are very small and offer no hope of exercise for your cat but it certainly better than your cat laying against your window screen in an open window. Window boxes are commonly constructed from wood, metal wire, and vinyl. Pricing ranges from $200 to over $1,000 depending on the size and features. DIY versions can be made for less but would require you to construct and install it yourself.
Collapsible and portable cat enclosures are basically specialized camping tents made to contain cats. These systems are differentiated by the quality of the materials used in their construction and their ease of set up / take down. Some even have special covers to block sun and distractions. The current offerings on the market are in the realm of 20 – 30 square feet in size. Still not big enough for a cat to run around but a cat can do more than turn in a tight circle. These are great for porches and patios and can even be taken to parks (depending on your cat). You would not want to leave your cat out unattended in this type of enclosure due to possible issues with overheating, discomfort, or other possible dangerous scenarios. They are the least expensive option for letting your cat get some fresh air and sunshine and their small size and portability do have some distinct advantages.
The next category has the largest variants in size and construction type. Fully enclosed “catios” range in size and form from small homemade wood and chicken wire encloses to large professionally built aviaries for cats. Most non-professionally built catios are DIY but there are a few out-of-the-box systems available. Some of thelargest and most extravagant examples can cost thousands or much more. The sky's the limit both in size, scope and cost for these systems. DIY designs can cost as little as $300-400 if you are going to do the work yourself and looking for something with barebones features. A drawback to this type of enclosure is that ones of a decent size where a cat could manage to get some amount of exercise are more expensive than other options that provide more space such as fencing systems.
The idea of “cat-proofing” existing fences has been around for a while. There are a lot of DIY options and several commercially available options as well for this method of forming outdoor cat enclosures by modifying existing structures. We discuss this in more detail at: (link to recent PF article). Cost is always a big factor in considering cat-proofing an existing fence but even more critical in the system choice should be effectiveness.
The final major category of outdoor cat enclosures is from-the-ground-up fencing. There are fewer DIY systems in the category. This is mostly because the simplest DIY answer to the vertical fence portion of a ground-up cat fence is actually a traditional fence making it a two-step process of building a fence and then adding a topper for cats to that fence. There are a handful of complete ground-up cat fence systems but they vary greatly in design and quality of materials. Further to that, the companies providing these products vary even more greatly in the included instructions and the layout a design help they offer customers.
Depending on the space you have, your budget, and your interest level in providing a stimulating and healthy environment for your cat(s), some or all of these options may be a good fit for you. At Purrfect Fence we pride ourselves on helping cats get the safe outdoor space they need while making sure it is a good fit for their owners as well. Get in touch with us about your ideas for your enclosure and let us help you like we have thousands of others across the world. We look forward to hearing from you!
To keep your cats safe for years to come, order Purrfect Fence today, and find out why our cat containment systems are being described by cat owners, veterinarians, and animal care professionals as a "life-changing experience.