Have you ever tried to give your cat some much-needed time outdoors only to find that they have wandered (or dashed!) off to explore the world beyond the backyard? Maybe you even attempted to contain them to a specific area, only to find yourself outwitted by their ability and determination to find an escape route.
There are so many stimulating sights, sounds, and smells outdoors for cats to investigate. And doing so has several benefits! When cats spend time outside, they are able to express many of their natural instincts and behaviors which can lead to happier, healthier cats. However, it is not always safe to let your cat roam freely outside. They may come across unfriendly neighbors, busy streets, or wild animals.
Providing your cat with a safe outdoor space is one solution that many cat parents consider to keep their feline family members safe, and luckily there are a variety of options for outdoor cat containment available. Below you will find the top 5 cat containment solutions in terms of overall effectiveness:
The word “catio” is broadly defined as an outdoor enclosure for cats, and comes from the combination of the words “cat” and “patio.” Catios come in all shapes, sizes, and styles and are typically fully enclosed structures. This type of cat containment solution provides a safe and controlled environment that gives your cat access to fresh air and interaction with the outdoor world.
Photo Credit https://habitathaven.com
Because catios are commonly fully enclosed structures, the chances of escape are slim to none. They can be built or installed nearly anywhere and can match the aesthetic of your home, or blend in with the landscaping. Some premium catio providers, such as Habitat Haven, even provide assistance with planning, designing, and engineering your cat enclosure so that it suits your space. The interior of a catio is completely customizable to provide your cat with an exciting and enriching space. Perches can be added to give your cat a vantage point up high. Hammocks can provide relaxing areas for your cat to lounge in the sun. And other interactive elements like scratching posts or tree limbs can be placed inside as well. Cat-friendly plants can even be grown inside!
While catios can certainly provide a safe and playful outdoor space for cats, the main drawback with a catio is that it tends to limit the total outdoor space available when compared to some other cat containment options.
2. Cat Fence with Spring-Loaded Arm
When you want your cat to have the freedom to roam your property without leaving it, fencing solutions may better suit your needs. However, providing more space sometimes means working around challenging obstacles that would have otherwise been avoided with a catio. For example, things such as trees, HVAC units, and lawn furniture can all provide potential escape routes even with a physical fence barrier in place. It is important to address these types of obstacles and select a fencing solution that will be the most effective for containing your cat.
Purrfect Fence is the most popular, effective, and durable outdoor cat containment fence system in the world. This is due, in part, to the fact that Purrfect Fence systems utilize a patented spring-loaded arm design that ensures even the Houdini cat can’t escape. As the cat climbs the fence in an attempt to escape, its weight will cause the tip of the arm to drop quickly. This sudden dropping motion makes the cat feel as if they are falling which triggers a natural instinct for them to land on their feet. They let go of the fence to turn over and land safely on the ground below.
Photo Credit https://purrfectfence.com
Used by more cat parents, rescues, shelters, and pet care facilities than all the other options combined, Purrfect Fence is considered the first choice for those concerned about not only the welfare of their cat(s) but also the flexibility of installation.
3. Other Cat Fence Solutions
Photo Credit https://easypetfence.com
Similar to the spring-loaded extension, a static extension will typically create an inward-facing arch at the top of the fence that makes climbing over the fence more difficult for cats. However, a static extension does not feature the hinge point that makes the spring-loaded arms more effective. This is not to say that a static arm will not work for containing some cats, as all cats are different, but they tend to be less effective overall.
4. Cat Fence Rollers
An alternative cat-proofing option for existing fences that some cat parents consider is a cat roller system. Generally considered the most aesthetically pleasing option, rollers are installed along the top of an existing fence and are minimally intrusive.
Photo Credit https://oscillotamerica.com/
The roller design was originally created to prevent coyotes from climbing over a fence. But some rollers have since been adapted for use with cats which can make it more difficult for cats to gain their footing at the top of the fence. However, they are not particularly suited for all fence types and configurations. So, while premium priced, the “roller design” is not regarded as the most effective, but many do consider it the best looking.
5. Invisible or Electric Cat Fence
An invisible cat fence is appealing to many due to its affordability and simple installation process. There are two main types of invisible cat fences: wireless and in-ground wired.
Wireless cat fences use radiofrequency to create an invisible barrier. A transmitter is centrally located and creates a dome-shaped “enclosure” set to a specific range that creates the perimeter. Your cat wears a collar that communicates with the transmitter, and as the collar moves toward the set boundary, it will give a warning signal to let the cat know they are approaching the boundary. If the cat continues and crosses the boundary they receive a static shock correction.
An in-ground wired system works similarly, however rather than a radiofrequency dome, a physical electric wire is buried underground around the perimeter.
Although many invisible cat fences can be installed and active in just a few minutes or an afternoon, they are not known for being particularly effective with cats. Because there is no physical barrier in place, training is required to teach your cat where the boundary is - or at least to teach them what the warning signal means.
Even with extensive training, sometimes the world beyond the invisible barrier is so enticing that cats will ignore the warning signal to cross the barrier. Or, even more concerning is that your cat flees to escape perceived or real danger only to now be discouraged from returning. They may not want to cross over the barrier to return home due to the fear of an unpleasant shock. Collars can be worn too loosely to deliver a static shock correction, batteries may die, and power outages can turn off the electric cat fence completely making it unreliable. For these reasons, invisible or electric cat fences tend to be minimally effective and unpopular.
While some systems generally tend to be more effective than others, the truth is that all cats are different with their own individual personalities and drive for exploration. When searching for a cat containment solution, it is important to consider the question, “Will this be effective for my cat?” rather than simply, “Is this effective?”
Many factors may influence your decision of which cat containment solution will work best for you and your cat, from budget to appearance. But if effectiveness at keeping your cat contained is your main concern then a catio will typically provide the safest outdoor enclosure. They are fully enclosed to nearly eliminate the chances of escape and can be customized to complement your home or yard.
If you are looking for a custom catio, or just aren’t sure exactly where to start, Habitat Haven can help. Planning engineers can work one-on-one with you remotely to answer your questions and assist you through the planning, design, and engineering process.
However, if you would like to provide more space for your cat, then a fencing solution like Purrfect Fence may work better for you. As the most effective fencing solution with options for creating a fence from the ground up or outfitting an existing fence of any type, there’s practically no situation that can’t be enclosed with the Purrfect Fence system.
To learn more about fencing solutions, please visit PurrfectFence.com