Most cats adapt well to living indoors, particularly if they have been kept this way from an early age. However, adult cats that are used to roaming may have more difficulty in adjusting. If this is the case, start by keeping it inside at night and gradually increase the time your cat remains safe and confined. If your cat still has difficulty in adjusting you could consult your local vet or animal behaviourist for advice.
It is important to have an interesting indoor environment for cats to prevent them becoming bored or developing behavioural problems. Suggestions for keeping your cat entertained indoors are available in the Good Cats Play at Home booklet.
Cat confinement is a legal requirement of some councils, but before cat proofing your backyard or building an enclosure you should contact your local council to find out if their approval is required.
Cat-proofing your fencing provides your cat with free access to your entire garden. If you have a small garden, or courtyard, this option could be better and cheaper than building a cat enclosure.
When designing your cat-proof fencing make sure it will have no sharp edges. You should also contact your local council regarding restrictions on fence extensions or adjustments.
Two solutions to cat-proofing your existing fence includes:
Netting. A fence with inward-facing overhangs may discourage your cat from leaving your property. This could be in the form of a net barrier. If you are DIY inclined, you could do this fencing yourself or there are companies that offer installation.
A purpose designed addition. There are commercial products available such as the Oscillot Fencing System. This involves putting “paddles” along the top of your existing fence. The “paddles” rotate when touched, discouraging jumping on the fence.
Both these systems have the added advantage of keeping other cats out of your garden.
Cats love to move around and keep watch over their territory. They need a warm dry bed, shelter from wind and rain along with shade from the sun. It is important for them to have access to platforms at different heights and climbing structures within the enclosure.
You could confine your cat in an enclosure attached to an existing structure or have a free-standing cat enclosure. A simple solution can be to utilise an existing area such as a section between the house and fence or close in a veranda, patio or courtyard. This can be achieved by using a lightweight support system and covering it with netting or alternatively, having a cat door or window opening into a commercially bought maze of tunnels and cages.
If you are unable to build an enclosure attached to your house or garage/shed, a free-standing enclosure is another option. There are commercial free-standing enclosures available or you could design and construct your own.
Whatever you decide, the size of your enclosure will depend on the number of cats you wish to house and how well they behave together. An enclosure should allow at least 2 square metres of floor area for each cat and be at least 2 metres high.
Further advice and information on cat enclosures is available in the Good Cats Play at Home booklet.