If you want to get your cat outside without all of the risks, there are several safe outdoor options.
Leash walking is a great way to give your cat access to the great outdoors without putting them or local wildlife in danger. It seems so very unlikely, but experts agree: Cats can be trained to walk with a harness. Your neighbours will get used to the sight! It’s a good idea to avoid dog parks, though. Watch the Vetstreet video to find out if your cat is a good candidate for harness walking. For more information on how to train your cat to a leash, check out animal behaviourist Joanna Berger’s guide here. Note that it’s always best to use a harness rather than a collar, to prevent injury to your cat.
If your cat isn’t into harness life but you want them to enjoy the great outdoors, you can create a protected outdoor space. Cat enclosures and ‘catios’ can offer the best of both worlds: your cat gets to go outside, but in a protected environment. Habitat Haven (Toronto, Ontario), Catscape (Brentwood Bay, B.C.) and Hellas Pet Enclosures (Edmonton,
AB) offer a variety of solutions, from ‘catios’ to dens to larger enclosures. There are also some relatively inexpensive ‘kitty run’ options from TSC Pets or Kritter Kondos. Of course, you can also build your own!
Here’s some inspiration from our community of safe cat owners:
Here are some handy catio tips:
Click here to see the pre-made chicken coops that are easily adapted for cats available from Home Hardware.
This blog has some great tips for building one of your own out of wire-cube storage units.
This pet-resistant screen comes highly recommended and is great for use in a catio.
There’s a video by the good folks at Cuteness.com on how to make an inexpensive catio out of Ikea shelves that you can watch here: http://catsandbirds.ca/research/cat-enclosures-and-catios/
And there are lots of videos on YouTube, with a huge variety of budgets, designs and approaches. Check them out here.
There are several companies selling cat fencing, offering a way to keep your cat safely in your own yard. You can add a barrier to a current fence, or create an entirely new cat fence. Cat fences can also work to keep neighbour and stray cats out of your yard if you’re trying to create a bird-safe space. Purrfect Fence and Cat Fence In are two of the most popular options.
Download a copy of this resource Safe Outdoor Options.