The lifespan of a domestic outdoor cat is approximately two to five years. They can succumb to a number of calamities including:
- Being killed by cars, dogs, and predators such as coyotes and foxes
- Getting lost or stolen
- Contracting infectious diseases such as feline leukemia, distemper, FIV, rabies, worms, urinary tract infections, etc.
- Suffering from hypothermia or heat stroke
- Ingesting poison or pesticides
- Carrying fleas, ticks and parasites
- Eating poisonous insects or plants
The unspoken reality no one wants to think about is that an increasing number of domestic cats are tortured or killed by cruel or unbalanced people. Also:
- Angry neighbors trap them, then take them away or destroy them
- Hunters shoot them
- Kids use cats for mean pranks
- Those practicing the occult kill them for rituals
Keeping cats indoors ensures their safety. Building a cat enclosure gives them more freedom while offering protection.
Indoor cats live approximately twelve to seventeen years, and many live even longer. In addition, indoor cats:
- Require fewer trips to the vet
- Don’t bring unsanitary prey, fleas, or parasites into your home
- Cannot fight with neighborhood or feral cats
- Do not prey on birds, rabbits and other wildlife
If you have a cat that is not used to being indoors, speak with your vet or visit this Web site for tips on making the transition:
While researching material for this section, we found a delightful site called “Sally’s Cat House.” Not only do these people have an extraordinary cat enclosure, they also included stories about their sixteen rescued cats. These are folks after our own hearts! Their site includes a tour of the enclosure, photos of their kitties, a description of how they built the enclosure, materials needed, and a list of other relevant links:
We also discovered a popular mini-enclosure called the Fun Run™. It’s a portable nylon mesh tunnel with spring steel frames that lets your kitty be outdoors wherever you are. You can zip the tunnels together for longer cat runs. Many companies sell Fun Runs on the Internet, so if you’re interested, type cat fun runs in an Internet search engine.
Even if you live in an apartment, your cat can enjoy the outdoors in a contained environment. People have constructed cat enclosures on balconies, sun porches, and outside their window.
A variety of preconstructed enclosures are available as near as the Internet, telephone, and local pet store, or you can construct your own. The possibilities are endless.
Most catteries have a metal or wood frame with some type of wire mesh or chicken wire. The enclosure may use the ground outside for a natural foundation or can have a built-in floor. It is most important that the enclosure has some type of roof to prevent cats from climbing or jumping out.
If you want to keep your enclosure in the back yard, consider buying or building a screened-in structure. If you don’t have an enclosure where the cat can get inside, it is important to monitor the cat whenever it is in the cattery.
- Make sure the enclosure is well-ventilated.
- The area should have both sun and shade if possible.
- Make the enclosure as large and tall as feasible for multiple cats. This way you can add more perches and shelves. Cats love to roost on high perches.
- The roof must be secure.
- Be sure the enclosure is safe so the cat cannot escape and no dog or predator can get inside.
- You can use cat-proof fences to enclose all or part of your yard. The cat run may enclose a side of your house or can be built outside the house.
- You can also start a cat tunnel in the house and have a cat flap leading to an outdoor area. Tunnels are a good way to get the cats outside.
- It must be easy for the cat to get into the house in case of a threat or severe weather. Cat-flap doors are the best option.
- Ensure the enclosure has no sharp edges that could injure a cat.
- Make it easy for a person to access the enclosure for cleaning or to retrieve cats. It is important to keep the cattery clean.
- Install a door you can lock.
Items for the Enclosure
Keep the enclosure interesting. Some people even locate a bird feeder outside the cattery for entertainment. Ideas include:
- Shelves—cats love high places.
- Jungle gyms, kitty condos and cat furniture.
- Boxes, tunnels, and places to hide.
- Scratching posts/towers, corrugated cardboard and sisal rope.
- An assortment of entertaining toys.
- Fresh greens such as grass, wheat grass, or catnip plants.
- Perches, hammocks and blankets.
- A litter box and water, if cats do not have access to inside the house.
The World Wide Web lists many sites with creative ideas for building your own enclosure. Here are some to get you started.
- Stanford Cat Network provides ideas for apartments, balconies, decks, and patios along with resources and links:
Australian cat lovers provided photos and descriptions of their enclosures on this site. It includes a variety of both small and large projects:
Here are plans for building your own:
This plan uses only 2x4s and chicken wire:
- This site has great ideas for designing your own cattery or using pre-made cat fences and enclosed gardens: