Cat confinement — enclosures and fencing
Cats don't need to roam. If their basic needs are met, cats enjoy longer and healthier lives when safely contained to the property.
Serious problems can happen if cats roam outdoors, particularly at night, around 80% of accidents involving cats happen at night. Roaming cats can:
- get hit by cars
- be injured in fights
- catch fatal diseases (such as feline AIDS)
- become lost.
Roaming cats can also kill native wildlife — even well fed cats hunt. Roaming cats can annoy neighbours by:
- digging in gardens.
Legally, you cannot let your cat trespass on other people's property. If your cat is found wandering off your property and is not identified, they can be seized and impounded. You may have to pay a fine when reclaiming your cat from the Council pound.
Some councils also have laws banning cats from certain areas, or requiring cats to be kept on their owner's property during certain hours.
You can keep your cat in the house or flat with you, or in the garage or shed at night. Just make sure they have:
- a warm dry sleeping area
- a litter tray
- plenty of water.
Other options include buying or building a cat enclosure for your yard, or installing cat proof fencing. Search online for Pet Shops' Suppliers and companies that sell enclosures, netting and products to modify fences. For example, a 'roller' type product is available, for installation along the top of existing fences (the roller prevents cats from getting a grip on the fence).
If you're handy you can build your own cat proof fencing and cat enclosures. Refer to our step by step DIY instructions with supporting illustrations and photos:
- Cat proof fencing (modifying existing fencing to make it 'cat proof', giving your cat free access to parts of, or your entire, yard)
- Cat enclosures attached to an existing structure (the house or a shed)
- Free standing cat enclosures
Staff at your local hardware store can answer any questions. Alternatively, you could pay someone experienced to do the building.
Ventilation is important if keeping cats in a confined area, especially if you have a number of cats. Ventilation helps prevent the spread of disease and respiratory problems from a build up of fumes or stale air.
When training your cat to accept confinement, skip the morning feed and call them in at night to be fed. Don't feed your cat until they come inside. Your cat will learn quickly that they won't get fed unless home by dusk.
Once inside, don't let your cat out again until morning. You can gradually extend the time your cat spends indoors or in an enclosure.
Most cats adapt well to living indoors and in an enclosure — particularly if they have been kept in this way from an early age.
Adult cats used to roaming outdoors can have more difficulty adjusting. If this is the case, consult your vet for advice. De-sexing cats also reduces their desire to roam and helps prevent behavioural problems.
When confining cats for long periods you must enrich their environment. This will prevent them from getting bored or developing behavioural problems.
The use of electric containment systems for cats is strictly regulated to protect the welfare of cats.