Local councils all around Australia are implementing cat control laws. Depending on where you live, your cat may be confined to your property 24/7, or subject to evening curfews.
The laws have been brought in to protect native wildlife. Overwhelming research shows that pet cats are very effective predators and pose a significant risk to native birds and other animals. Cats who are allowed to roam outside also have much shorter lifespans than those who stay in, as they’re at risk of car accidents and other injuries.
If you own pet cats, especially cats who are used to going outdoors, it can be tricky to find ways to contain them. Thankfully, there are plenty of options on the market that offer your feline friends some fresh air while still keeping our native wildlife safe.
Here are some possibilities.
‘Catios’, or ‘cat patios’, are outdoor enclosures that your cat can spend time in. Generally, they’re built against a wall of your home that contains a window, so your cat can go in and out as they please.
A catio is a great option for larger gardens, where it isn’t possible to enclose the entire yard. You can add some enriching activities like toys and scratching posts. A perch high up in the enclosure will let your kitties watch the world go by. And don’t forget a comfy hammock or cushion for those all-important cat naps!
There are several DIY plans available on the internet, but if you’re not handy with a hammer, you can also hire a company to come and build you one.
For homes with small gardens and good fencing, a cat net might be the way to go. This product attaches to the top of your fence to enclose the roof. It’s light weight and won’t diminish the amount of sunlight or fresh air you get – but it will stop Mr Fluffykins from jumping over the fence and off your property.
This is a great solution if you have a courtyard garden, or a side garden that can be enclosed separately from the rest of your property. It is relatively cheap, and since the net is up high, it doesn’t stop you from getting into your garden as usual. Your cat will only be minimally confined, and you can enjoy your outdoor space together.
For those with larger gardens, it probably isn’t practical to stretch a cat net across the whole space. However, there are still several ways to keep your cat on your property. Some of these options will work better than others, depending on the type of fencing and garden you have, so you may need to test a few.
Fenceline perimeter enclosure netting extends upwards and in at an angle. This creates an angled physical barrier that will prevent your cats from escaping. You can utilise this all the way around your garden, or to create a side enclosure.
Other anti-climb options include roller attachments that prevent your cat from getting purchase on the fence. You can also buy anti-climb fence spikes.
Enrich your interior
No matter what option you choose, part of the strategy should be to make your interior enticing. A cat who is comfortable and entertained inside is less likely to make a break for the great outdoors.
Cat ‘gyms’ that offer multiple levels to jump on are a great addition to your home. Small toys that they can chase, like mice and balls, are great for meeting their need to hunt. Spend time playing with your cat as well: there are lots of great interactive toys to choose from like laser pointers or wands with feather attachments.
If you own your home, you can consider installing some perches or ledges on the walls so your cat can claim their rightful place above you all. Tunnels, igloos or caves offer a chance for some private space in which to snooze.
The transition from outdoor cat to indoor or confined cat can be tricky. Given the huge benefits to wildlife and to your cat’s own health, it’s well worth investing a little time and money to make it go more smoothly. That way you can relax and enjoy your cat’s company for many more years to come.