Watch Tip: Cat Containment Systems

Posted on May 15th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

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Prevent your family cats from free-roaming outdoors to protect them from a host of dangers, from predators, diseases, traffic, abuse, and getting lost. Build a outdoor cat enclosure, sometimes called a “cat condo” or “catiary” or a “catio,” to provide the stimulating outdoor atmosphere that most cats crave—with near-complete safety depending on the design or product. Containment systems can protect song birds as well.

“Heaven on Earth” for indoor/outdoor cats

Imagine your cat enjoying sun-bathing, bird-watching, breeze-sniffing, and grass-rolling in total safety and in compliance with local anti-pet-roaming ordinances. An excellent selection of cat enclosure products and DIY designs are now available, and with your customizing, can result in an exciting and creative outdoor space your cats will love.

A Safe Outdoor Home for Cats in Cat-Allergic Families

If you have family members with cat allergies, a cat containment room or system might be suitable for year-around living in some climates and some environments. Properly designed and built, with comfortable lounge chairs for their humans, a well-sheltered structure could prevent a family pet from being surrendered to a shelter or pound, which can result in death for the cat. Share this thought with friends and neighbors if cat allergies might cause a family cat to lose his or her happy home.

Cat Containment Systems and Accessories

Purchase a “catiary” (think “aviary” for cats) or “cat condo” that you assemble and set up on your deck or patio. Six-sided designs with roofs are stable and durable. Products can include access tunnels that install in an open house window, so your cats can freely enter and leave their outdoor room. For an attached catiary,  install a pet door. Purchase or build cat trees, hanging toys, and raised pathways for ultimate cat fun. A variety of products and accessories manufactured by a national brand can be found here. Enjoy developing your own ideas too.

Even a window can be converted to a simple catiary with a potted catgrass plant and a soft bed. Your handyman or woman can build a box structure with a solid roof and floor with mesh or woven wire walls and attach it securely to your siding. You’ll want to choose a window that is in a protected spot with some shade.

Cat Fences

Build a new free-standing cat fence or convert an existing fence to a cat-proof one using a virtually see-through fencing mesh available through Purrfect Fence. This proven-durable product has been marketed for years as deer fencing. You can purchase a system or individual components. You can even build a clever cat-proof tree baffle to prevent cats from escaping an enclosure by climbing an enclosed tree. See photos and product information.

Creative Outdoor Containment for Dogs

Did you think creative outdoor spaces are only for cats? You can apply similar products and designs for amazing dog enclosures and structures as well. Dogs aren’t interested in sharpening claws on trees, but many love to dig, so provide a deep sandbox. They enjoy lounging and rolling in shaded grass, but add a Kuranda platform bed too (also available with longer legs for cats). Many enjoy playing in kid’s wading pools on sunny warm days. Consider building an extra-large 2-story dog house with several rooms, entrances, and lounging decks so your dogs can enjoy resting in a more private spot after a play-filled afternoon. Of course your fencing must be secure for your dogs and good information is easily found.

6 Responses to “Watch Tip: Cat Containment Systems”

  1. PJ Langhoff says:

    What excellent ideas for cat owners! There are too many cats in shelters or wandering homeless in this country. Even the fence idea is great to keep feral animals of all kinds from harming family pets that are kept outdoors. Keep up the good work!

  2. Anna Nirva says:

    Thank you PJ for the comment. I hadn’t thought about keeping wild animals out but of course that is another benefit of a cat containment system, isn’t it.

  3. Azar Attura says:

    These are all very interesting. Remember however, that an outside cat or other jumping or climbing critter CAN go over that top baffle– even though the cats INSIDE that containment system cannot theoretically get out.

    Then there are hawks, eagles and other birds of prey that can easily swoop down and grab a small to med sized cat. I solved that problem by creating an open weave “top netting” of 16 and 18 gauge spool wire. crisscrossed and secured from one side to the other — but then again my containment system is small compared to the ones illustrated.

    A VERY important consideration is: if there are impending wildfires (and wildfires move FAAAST), or impending landslides or other impending emergencies — WHO in the family is empowered or tasked with SAFELY GETTING THOSE CATS OUT and bringing them to a SAFE place???? Who OUTSIDE OF THE FAMILY (Vet, Emergency personnel)– knows about these cats and their emergency supplies? In addition, there should be at least 2 FAMILY members also tasked with this — one a backup — and if both are there, then both do this, to save time. Emergency carriers and emergency cat food should be placed in a safe secure and easily visible area (for family, for emergency responders or rescuers).

  4. Anna Nirva says:

    Excellent thoughts, Azar! Some of the structures are completely enclosed but the fencing is not.

    Could not agree more with your comment about impending emergencies. Please refer to our Reciprocal Foster Agreement which will provide some structure and planning for emergency care by friends/family for companion animals:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with our readers!

  5. We love the outdoor cat enclosures that our human has set up on the patio for us. An excellent way to get a breath of fresh air and do some bird watching. The ones we use are a bit more portable so they can easily be moved from spot to spot and are only meant to be used with human supervision. Too many big nasty beasties where we live!

  6. As a cat lover and the owner of 2 lovely felines I really appreciate your article. Only a true cat person can truly appreciate what these wonderful animals add to our daily lives.