Outdoor Cat Enclosure - Keeping Your Cats Safe and Happy Outdoors
We feel that an outdoor cat enclosure is the only way to keep all of our cats safe and happy outdoors. Ours gives our cats, young and old, room to run, play, explore and just lounge in the sun. With a little planning, your cats can safely enjoy being outside in their very own outdoor cat enclosure! But first, you'll need to make a few decisions. This is what we did.
Because we have a large multiple cat household, we decided a cage or 'dog run' type of enclosure wasn't going to be big enough. The area we had in mind was about 1600 square feet and would include part of the house and an existing screened in porch. The porch had a screen door and we decided we could just add a cat pet door. This solved the issue of access for both us and the cats.
Part of the area had an existing chain link fence - which cats can easily
climb. We found several types of cat fence that could be attached to an
existing fence but about 1/3 of the outdoor cat enclosure area had no
fence, walls or anything.
Also, we knew we would need some sort of
outside access to get a lawnmower, etc. into the outdoor cat enclosure.
(we didn't want to have to bring lawn equipment in through the house!)
So, we kept looking. We finally came across just what we needed... Purr...fect Fence
! Purr...Fect Fence was just...well, perfect! (SEE UPDATE) It would provide fencing
to the open area and it also had a gate for outside access to the 'kitty
paddock' (as we started calling it). So, we placed our order and started
getting the area ready for cat habitation.
Recently, Purrfect Fence has changed their design and the quality is not as good as the fencing we originally used. Also, one cat owner let us know that their dog was able to chew a hole in the bottom rodent wire! Because of this, when we expanded our outdoor space, we used CritterFence instead. The quality is much better and it is less expensive than the PurrFect Fence. So far, it has held up well! END UPDATE
We have received several inquiries asking how the fence for this outdoor cat enclosure keeps cats in and many believed it had a top or roof on it so we thought we had better explain it better.
This is an open enclosure - there is no roof. Cats can't climb over this fence. The fencing is flexible in between the posts which cats don't like. So they try to climb up the poles which is more stable. When they reach the top, they find an inverted "V" which turns them upside down and prevents them from climbing over. The design also keeps other animals (other cats, deer, dogs, coyotes, etc) from getting in and the bottom is made from strong wire so critters such as skunks can't chew their way in. It will not prevent burrowing or small rodents like gophers and mice from getting in however, though, your cats will likely take care of any that do decide to venture into the enclosure! Hope this makes more sense to everyone but please feel free to
and we'll be happy to answer any questions you have! END UPDATE
OK, back to our outdoor cat enclosure yard prep:
First, we removed saplings and shrubs growing where we wanted to put the fence. We checked the list of
plants harmful to cats
to be sure we didn't have anything that would hurt them. With the few plants we didn't recognize, we took cuttings to a local plant specialist to determine what they were. The only potentially harmful plant we had was an oleander.
While cats don't normally mess with them, oleanders can make them sick
and we didn't want to take any chances. Since these plants are virtually
impossible to kill, we dug down around the plant, cut off anything
above ground, cut the roots we could reach, salted the earth and covered
it with a large plastic wash tub. We hoped this would prevent the thing
from growing back. (It's been over a year and so far, so good!)
We sprayed the area for bugs and also used a weed and feed product to
help green up the grass as much as we could. Grass has a hard time during
the hot summer months around here.
Our fence arrived in less than 10 days and we were ready to go!
Because of the hot weather, we only worked a few hours in the mornings
so it took us about 2 weeks to complete the project. (It could have
been done in about 2 days but it was just too hot to work!)
None of us are very 'handy' so we were concerned that we would be able
to put up the fence ourselves. It turned out that the installation
was easier than we originally thought!
We followed the existing chain link fence from the house and along the
frontage road area. We decided this would give added protection from
determined dogs and people. We crossed back across the open area to the
house and put the gate along this line.
The whole time we were working on the outdoor cat enclosure, our cats would sit in the screened porch and watch us! We suspect they knew we were making something for them!
Soon, all that was left to do was to put in the cat pet door. We knew, as soon as we cut an opening in the screen, several of our more adventurous cats would be trying to get out - and of course getting in the way. We decided to go ahead and give them access to their outdoor cat enclosure while we put in their own special access door.
We propped open the screen door and within seconds, several cats ran out! Within a couple of minutes, almost all of our resident cats were exploring their new 'kitty paddock'. A few were a little nervous and took a day or so before they ventured out. Sophie has still never been out there but she enjoys watching the others from the comfort of the screened in porch.
Initially, there were a few escape attempts but no successes. After a couple of days, they settled in to enjoy their outside freedom and gave up trying to climb the fence or find a way to squeeze out!
While the kitties were enjoying their new outdoor cat enclosure, we put in their cat pet door. Initially, we put in a traditional cat door with an acrylic flap. But this had a couple of flaws.
First, the flap seemed a bit heavy for cats, and some of them were afraid of it. They wouldn't go through it even when we propped it open.
Secondly, we noticed that if the cats outside became frightened, they all made a dash for the cat pet door at the same time, squishing and jamming each other in the pet door to get back inside. We were concerned that one of them might get hurt so we took out the cat door.
We decided to try a large dog door. The opening is bigger and the flap is softer and more flexible than the traditional acrylic cat flap door. The flap on the dog door is clear and easy to see through as well.
The cats afraid of the initial cat door were not afraid of the new dog door flap at all. With the exception of Sophie, all of the cats were using their new door to go in and out freely to and from their outdoor cat enclosure within a day. We didn't even have to prop it open! As soon as one cat went through, the rest followed. They taught each other how to use the door!
Because we put the cat pet door in our screened in porch, we had to get a little creative on the installation.
First, we made 2 frames out of 1/4" plywood and glued them to each other on either side of the screen with Gorilla Glue. Since the pet door frame was next to the porch screen door frame, we also used a couple of 'L' brackets to help secure the pet door frame.
Then we cut out the screen inside the pet door frame and installed the pet door according to the manufacturer instructions. Our cats have used the heck out of their cat pet door and so far it has held up extremely well!
We put a few cat trees out there for them to play on, surrounded the perimeter with solar lights, and set up a table, chairs and umbrella so we could enjoy the outdoor cat enclosure with our cats!
We added a child's sand box and filled it with their favorite kitty litter to discourage the cats from using the dirt and grass as their bathroom. It comes with a cover so when it rains we can cover the litter. (we also clean it every day just like the
house litter boxes!)
We plan to build some wood play areas for the cats to climb on that
will withstand the weather. We also plan to put in some cat friendly
plants and bushes as well. Maybe even a fountain! Who knows, the
possibilities are endless!
Our cats just love their outdoor cat enclosure! In the evenings, we enjoy
sitting out there and watching them running and jumping and chasing
bugs! We also bring out their favorite toy, Da Bird
for some fun, interactive play time. They also enjoy chasing after
ping-pong balls. We use bright, neon colors so we don't loose them
in the grass.
We consider the hard work we put into making our outdoor cat enclosure
a labor of love and is was well worth the effort and cost!
Our cats can now enjoy fresh
air, exercise and sunshine, all in safety and security. We are pleased
that we can now have cats that are safe and happy - indoors and out!
Click here to see more pictures of the 'Kitty Paddock'
Click here to see the completed expansion of our kitty yard
We recently learned that the Purr...fect Fence was used to save the cats that live at the Hemingway Home and museum.
to read all about how Purr...fect Fence saved the day for the Hemingway cats! Click on the picture below to read more!
Check Out the Feline Funhouse for portable Outdoor Cat Safety!
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