The Indoors/Outdoors Dilemma
The question of whether a house cat should be allowed outside bothers many cat owners. Many dangers lurk outside. Cars, dogs, hostile people and even other cats can pose a real threat for your cat. In some areas, other critters and even large predators are also a cause for concern.
Another aspect to consider is the effect that your cat can have on local wildlife. Some cats are talented hunters and are able inflict serious damage on the population of birds and rodents.
Most cats adjust very well to the safe indoors-only lifestyle and this is in fact one of the reasons of the growing popularity of cats as pets in modern urban society. Yet, many cat owners feel that their cats would benefit from being closer to the wonders of the outside. Cat Enclosures - The Safe Solution
A cat enclosure may prove to be a safe and effective solution to the problem. An enclosure, placed on the porch or in the garden, provides your cat with a protected area where she can enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and sometimes even birds, trees and grass.
You can either build the enclosure yourself or have one built for you by a professional. The smaller enclosures, such as closed window perches or large cages, can be purchased and easily fit into your home. If you decide to build one yourself, take your time and plan everything before you begin. A good plan can be invaluable and save you a lot of changes along the way!
Enclosures vary in size and shape. The smallest is the windowsill enclosure - an outside perch surrounded by a see-through box or by a safe net. This can be installed even in a small apartment and provide your cat with a nice outside view, preferably one with trees and birds.
If you live in a house you can offer your cat a larger enclosure. Here too sizes vary from a relatively small cage placed in the porch to a very large enclosure that covers your whole backyard.
If you consider attaching an outside enclosure to your house, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Safety - The enclosure must be strong and sturdy, so that no cat can get out of it and no dog or other large animal can make its way in. Use only the best and strongest materials and make sure there are no sharp edges inside that may cause injury to your cat. Don't forget the roof! Cats can climb and jump very high and without a secure roof, they may very likely get outside.
- Size matters - the enclosure will soon become part of your cat territory and the more space there is to explore the better. This is especially important if you have more than one cat. Make sure that all of you cats can share the enclosure without feeling overcrowded.
- Easy entry back into your house - The enclosure must be connected to the inside of your house in such a way that allows your cat to get back in at all times. In the case of sudden severe weather conditions or some other outside threat, your cat will need to get back inside immediately, even if you are not at home to let her in. A cat flap door is the best solution - you can build the enclosure right on the other side of the cat flap, or build a safe and sturdy tunnel between the door and the enclosure.
- Easy access for you - occasionally, you may need to get into the enclosure yourself to fix or change some things. Getting in may also crucial if you ever need to get to your cat in case of an emergency. When you build the enclosure, make sure you have a well-sized door that can be kept locked when not is use.
- Vertical space - you can make better use of your space if you build a tall enclosure with shelves and perches. Cats appreciate vertical space and often feel more secure when they have a high perch from which to look over their surroundings.
- Enhance the inside - keep the enclosure interesting and stimulating for your cat. Add boxes, tunnels, toys and anything else you can think of that will make your cat at home. Many cats appreciate having grass to nibble on, so a nice pot with grass or even catnip is a good idea. Another nice feature is a bird feeder located just outside the enclosure - your cat is likely to be mesmerized!
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