Cats are naturally a very curious species. Give them the opportunity, and they'll surely skip right over the backyard fence and off to explore the world around them. This is the reason why many purr-parents want to cat-proof their yard. There are so many positive reasons to keep pet cats contained in their yard. Keeping them safe and healthy really is the end goal. We really want them to live the longest, happiest life possible, and all research points to cat containment as being the number one way to ensure this.
So why are more and more cat owners across the world opting to keep their cats contained rather than letting them roam the streets:
Avoid diseases and parasites
Diseases pose a big risk for free-roaming cats. Contact with wild animals and other cats can result in the transmission of life-threatening diseases such as feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. The risk of infestations with fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, and other parasites also increases. (Think of all of the vet bills you can avoid!)
Getting lost or stolen
Cats can become trapped in buildings, stolen, taken to an animal shelter, or adopted by someone who found them roaming in their yard. As unethical as it sounds, there is nothing stopping a child or even an adult from taking your beloved fur baby home, if found roaming the streets. Oftentimes, cats visit other homes and nap there for a while. This poses a risk, as people might assume the cat is a stray and welcome them into their family for good.
Eliminate the risk of impoundment by councils, governments and municipalities
Pet cats are facing unprecedented crackdowns by councils, governments and municipalities, with new by-laws banning the animals from wandering outside their homes. These laws are being put into place by authorities concerned over the destruction cats are inflicting on native fauna in parks and reserves in communities.
Reduce the likelihood of friction with neighbors and the community
Cats that roam freely can become a significant nuisance to the community. They can nap in neighbors' gardens and yards, dig up plants, kill wild birds and small animals. If they are not spayed or neutered, they can reproduce and leave kittens that end up in shelters which creates a burden on these shelters and the volunteers that give up so much of their time to work with these poor animals.
Protection of wildlife
Many millions of native and introduced vertebrates in countries across the world fall victim to the claw. This includes hundred of bird species, reptiles, marsupials, rodents and frogs! The worst part? Cats have had their claws in the extinction of at least 50 species of animals across the world as well as a decline in the population of many others.
… And last but certainly not least…
Enjoying the outdoors with your cat can be a healthy experience for both of you. A 2017 study by researchers from Oregon State and Monmouth Universities showed that when presented with the choice of toys, food, scent, or human interaction, most cats in the study chose human interaction over the rest. So, although some cats like to pretend they don’t have an interest in their owners, truth is they adore us. But we already knew that?!
Now, back to a few solutions for keeping your feline family member safely contained. Here we touch on a few options for cat-proofing your garden.
Free Standing Cat Enclosures
Free-standing cat enclosures made of nets are one of the popular options out to enable you to give your cat some time outside in the yard whilst restricting their ability to roam.
A free-standing cat enclosure is a practical choice to consider when you're thinking of which cat containment option to go with. This is ideal if you do not have an existing fence surrounding your property.
Photo Credit: Cat Runs WA
Admittedly, this option is very confining compared with other cat-proofing solutions available. Since your feline friend won't have all that much space within a free-standing cat enclosure (most are only a ten square feet in area), you can compensate for this by adding extra features or "toys" in the enclosure. You can add cat activity centers, free-standing shelves, a scratching post, and even some cat-friendly plants.
There are quite a few ‘out of the box’ options available for free-standing cat enclosures and you can usually pick up a ‘smallish’ one with around 13 square ft (5 square meters) of roaming space for around $400 USD
Whole Yard Cat Netting
Whole yard cat netting/ cat enclosures have been an option chosen by many cat owners over the years to keep their feline family members contained to their garden. The popularity of this option is purely functional, as let’s face it, looks-wise cat netting is quite an eyesore unfortunately.
Aesthetics aside, there are still certainly benefits to choosing whole yard cat netting as an option. By covering your entire yard with a cat netting system, your cat has access to whole yard roaming space meaning your cat can soak up some sun whilst getting some great exercise roaming around the entirety of the yard!
Whole yard cat netting is a great option for situations where there are many pet cats at a single property, so if you own more than five or six felines then cat netting your yard is a great way to ensure that all of the cats are limited by the netting that is in place and even the craftiest of the gang cannot make an escape.
There are some great quality cat netting options on the market but be sure to look at one that is UV resistant, otherwise, your money may soon be wasted as the netting deteriorates and no longer does its job.
As for affordability, whole yard cat netting certainly isn’t the best option. It can cost many thousands of dollars to buy the product and then professional installation will also hit your hip pocket. Allow around $2000 to $4000 USD ($2800 to $5600 AUD) for a small to medium size backyard to be fully enclosed.
Cat Netting Fence Conversion System
(Nets on Brackets Installed on Top of Fences)
Cat Netting Fence Conversion Systems fare usually made of metal posts and mesh wire, extended by a few feet in height and bent inwards. The part of the fence that extends inwards is usually spring-loaded. As such, they are activated by a cat's weight swinging the horizontal component of the arm downward, safely returning your feline friend to the ground. The arm immediately returns to its original position.
Cat netting fence conversion systems are a useful option in the cat containment market. They are typically suggested to be used on fences at least 5 ft or higher to be most effective.
Installation on most fence types is possible, with the sellers of this product claiming it can be installed on most timber, masonry, metal and vinyl fences, very handy indeed!
The material used in some of the netting fence conversion systems can be really hardy, some are put together using heavy-duty flexible mesh cat fence material which means they’ll last a good few years, if not more.
In terms of downsides, similar to whole yard cat netting, we’d go straight back to aesthetics, or the appearance of the product to put it more simply. There’s a bit of a ‘prison like’ feel to the netting fence conversions systems which stick up abruptly above the fence line creating a bit of a ‘great wall of netting’ kind of feel. Some things are more important than looks (for instance the safety of your cat), but just something to keep in mind if the aesthetics of your garden are important to you.
Pricing-wise, netting fence conversion systems are quite reasonable at around $63 USD per 3 ½ feet ($87 AUD per metre) for smaller size orders with the price per foot reducing the more feet ordered.
Cat-Proof Fence Rollers / Spinning Paddle Systems
Here we come to the last of our four main options for cat-proofing backyards. Arguably the most aesthetically pleasing with its refined design and small proportions. We’d certainly nominate this type of cat-proofing solution as one that brings peace of mind whilst not taking away from the aesthetics of your garden.
Cat-proof fence rollers are fast-becoming the first-choice cat containment option for cat owners across the world. With no wires, no cages and no netting, it is cat friendly, unobtrusive and can make most fences cat-proof quickly and cost effectively. Cat-proof fence rollers are an ideal choice for cat owners wanting to keep their cat safely contained without compromising on aesthetics.
Photo Credit: Oscillot
Similarly to whole yard cat netting and netting fence conversion systems; cat-proof rollers installed on top of the fence line for the perimeter of the yard offer whole-yard roaming space. That’s a whole lot of valuable territory for your cat to explore in safety. Differently to whole yard netting and netting fence conversion systems however, cat-proof fence rollers are very easy to install. Let’s face it, who has the time or energy to deal with easily tangled nets? And trying to install nets onto your fence or the even more mammoth task of putting nets across your whole yard is certainly no easy feat.
Cat-proof fence rollers are unobtrusive and quiet. They’re a very low-key option for cat owners wanting a quality, easy to install cat-proofing solution to install on their fences. The rollers don’t spin in the wind and don’t require electricity or regular maintenance. Additionally, cat fence rollers are safe not just for cats but for other wildlife as well. The thoughtfully engineered design makes sure that your feline friend's little paws don't get caught or injured in the components.
Photo Credit: Oscillot
Cat-proof fence rollers are picked as an easy DIY (Do It Yourself) installation option that can be installed quite effortlessly with just a small amount of handy know-how.
Do cat rollers work? Absolutely! Cat-Proof Fence rollers are very effective for most. The most important point to remember when installing cat-proof fence rollers is that the cat needs to be jumping from the ground to the top of the fence in a single motion, with no help on the way up in the form of ladders or platforms. Ladders and platforms include objects next to the fence, such as trees, trellis, sheds and garden beds, etc.
Cat-proof fence rollers are quick and easy to install yourself, and equally as easy for your local handyman to install. Most installations only take a matter of a couple of short hours and require only a few tools.
Price wise, there’s no kitten’ around, cat-proof fence rollers are very cost efficient. Especially in terms of dollar for area roaming space. Grab yourself one of the most popular cat-proofing options on the market.
At the end of the day, we want the best for our purr-babies and all cats across the globe. We want them to be safe, first and foremost, but still be able to get some exercise outside and enjoy the sunshine on their furry little cheeks. Whichever cat-proofing option you choose, rest assured that by keeping your cat safely contained to your yard you are most certainly a responsible cat owner and your cat will love you for it!