A cat proof balcony is something all responsible pet owners should keep in mind if we want our pampered kitties to be living their best lives.
If you live in a city or apartment building you most likely won’t be able to let your cat outdoors safely. If you have a balcony, though, that could be a great way to allow access to fresh air and exercise. However, it’s not a matter of just opening the door and ushering her through – read on to find out what to do to make a cat proof balcony.
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Is it safe to let a cat on the balcony?
The short answer is ‘no’ – unless you’ve done your homework first! Most cats are expert jumpers and will bounce off the sun lounger and ping over the rails before you’ve turned round to close the door.
If you’re on the ground floor that’s potentially inconvenient, if you’re on a higher floor the results could be serious or even fatal. We’ve put together a list of how to cat proof a balcony so that your furry friend can enjoy some quality outdoor time without you worrying.
How to cat proof a balcony
The first decision to make is whether you want to cat proof your balcony! You’ll need to invest both time and money in creating a safe environment, and it may mean that you’re able to use the balcony less yourself as there’ll be less space. A cheap alternative is to buy a harness so you can take your pet out for walks instead – check out our guide to the best cat harnesses.
If you don’t have time to walk your pet, then creating a cat proof balcony means you can pop her out for a spot of exercise without having to stop what you’re doing – as long as you keep an eye on her.
As we’ve already mentioned, most cats love to jump and can reach surprising heights, particularly if they see a bird/feather/stray paper bag! The only safe way to cat proof your balcony is to fence it in securely on all sides, including overhead, with a sturdy barrier such as netting.
Before letting your precious puss onto her new balcony, make sure her microchip details and collar tag are up to date, just in case!
Ready-made outdoor cat enclosures
If you have a large balcony then you could consider a ready-made outdoor enclosure for your cat. These are available at many pet and DIY stores and consist of anything from a large cage or netting enclosure to a fully fledged playground paradise, complete with climbing frame and siesta hammock.
Whatever you choose should be durable and weatherproof, and have provision for shelter and shade for your cat. Never leave your cat on her own for longer than a few minutes in case she gets caught in adverse weather or gets into some kind of trouble, and make sure fresh drinking water is always available.
Installing a catio
What is a ‘catio’, we hear you ask? It’s a patio – for cats! If you want to give your feline friend a real feeling of freedom then this could be a good option. Basically, it’s a step up from an outdoor cage to a proper feline adventure playground.
If you’re a dab hand at DIY then you can install your own catio. The advantage is that you can then build something that fits your available space neatly, and it should save you money too. If that sounds too complicated or space isn’t such an issue, there are plenty of ready-built options on the market – see our guide to the best catio ideas for inspiration.
Your catio will need to have puss-proof top and sides, such as strong netting or bars. Aside from that, you can go to town! Scratching posts, hammocks, tunnels, climbing frames, bridges and ladders – the only limit is your imagination (and handyman skills!). Take a look at our guide for more ideas about how to create a cat-friendly playground.
For smaller balconies, choose a ‘cat townhouse’ with several stories one on top of another and access ladders between. This will allow for maximum entertainment levels in minimum space. For larger spaces you can include bridges or a series of boxes for hiding and jumping.
How to landscape a cat proof balcony
When you’ve finished making your balcony safe and appealing for cats, you might like to think about making it a nice place for humans too! Adding a table and chairs and some greenery will not only help make the balcony a ‘multi user area’, it will also help to soften any equipment that you’ve got out there.
If you’re adding plants, though, do remember that some varieties are poisonous to curious cats and should be kept well away from cage walls. Even better, choose varieties that are non-toxic such as ferns. You can find out more about cat-friendly house plants in our guide.
Outdoor exercise and fresh air is always a good idea to help keep your feline friend healthy and happy. Burning off extra calories by climbing and jumping will keep your kitty looking trim and having access to outdoor space will keep her interested and help prevent boredom.
Cats should never be shut onto a balcony without supervision though, in case of accidents or sudden changes in the weather. You may be able to set things up so that your cat can bring herself inside if she feels like it, for example building an enclosure that connects with the house door or window.
Otherwise, you’ll need to keep an eye on her. Creating a catproof balcony may take a little time, trouble and investment, but it’s well worth it to keep your furry friend feeling first rate. When our cats are happy, we’re happy too!
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Sara is a freelance journalist and copywriter of many years’ experience with a lifelong love of animals. She’s written for a range of magazines and websites on subjects varying from pet care to travel. A horse rider since the age of five, she’s currently a full time pet slave to horse Blue and gorgeous, goofy English Springer Spaniel Olly. Adorable Olly has a huge sense of adventure and no sense of direction, keeping Sara on her toes.