Fencing Your Felines: Purrfect Solutions For Keeping Cats Outside

If you want to let your cats out in the yard without worrying about them leaving the property, you might feel discouraged. Cats are excellent jumpers, and when they don't jump, they are usually able to climb. This is not just risky for your cats, but also allows other cats into your yard, which could mean cat fights or unwanted litters of kittens. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to cat-proof your backyard.

Modify Your Fence

First of all, you will want to make sure your backyard is fully and properly fenced. If your fence has gaps, consider replacing it with a fence that is built for privacy. Cats are very flexible-- they can fit through openings just 3 inches wide, according to one source-- so they can squeeze through horizontal or vertical slits in your fences. Chainlink can also be effective for deterring cats, if a privacy fence is too limiting for your style or neighborhood. 

After you have sealed all the potential exists, it's time to conquer the jumping and climbing problem. Cats do climb, but their climbing abilities have limits. They do not like to climb on things that extend into a reverse overhang. You can have a fence specially installed by a contractor that extends wire mesh up, gradually curving back into the yard. If you already have a fence, talk to a fence contractor about attaching a curved plastic or mesh fence onto your existing fence. This curved design also discourages other cats from jumping your fence into your yard, as the curved fencing is not sturdy enough for them to feel confident walking on and prevents a direct downward jump. 

Provide Stimulation

Once your fences are secure, you need to help your cat feel like he or she has no reason to stray far from home. This will help prevent your cat from testing the fence or consistently looking for weak points to exploit. Some things you can add to your outdoor space include:

  • Trees for climbing. Try to keep trees away from the edge of your property, as these can be used for escape. But, in the middle of the yard, a tree can make for an excellent cat-exerciser, especially if you have more than one pet-- cats can climb the tree for solitude or to play chase with other cats. 
  • A space for privacy. Cats are territorial, and they like to feel like they have a place to retreat if they are scared, tired, or upset. Build a cat house that your cat can use while you are outside, and put it in a private place. Food and water can be protected in the cat house, as well as cat toys. Good places for the house include underneath the deck, behind the garden shed, or behind some shrubs. 
  • A litter box. You might think that because your cat is outside, that he or she can go wherever, whenever. But cats are particular. A litter box will help them to stay consistent with indoor bathroom habits (should you allow your cat inside). It will also help you cat to feel more secure about staying in the yard, like the yard is just as safe as being indoors.

Protect Special Areas

Finally, in order to make sure that you and your cat enjoy the outside fenced area, you need to make sure that you protect specific areas from your cat. For example, you don't want your flower or vegetable garden to become a giant litter box. Providing a littler box helps with this issue, but may not always completely prevent it. Ward off your cat by lining your garden space with chili pepper plants. Cats will get the oils from the plants on their paws, and when they lick themselves they will learn not to return to the garden. Also, remember to cover the children's sandbox when it is not being used.