Does an Outdoor Cat Enclosure Solve All Problems?
Of course not. Some of the concerns a cat owner has about a cat being free outdoors still apply even when outside cat enclosures are used. For example, cat flea control must be used, but that is easily accomplished by using Frontline Plus for Cats or Advantage for Cats.
However, safety from cars and other animals and poisons and many other dangers is provided when you give your kitty an enclosed area to enjoy outside.
How Will My Cat Get From Inside the House into the Outdoor Area?
It's simple to find a way for your cats to navigate from indoors to outdoor cat enclosures. I have always used cat doors so they could come and go as they wish. There are many styles available these days including electronic pet doors, window pet doors, and many others. They all come with a method of easily closing off your cats access if there are times you want to keep your kitty totally inside.
How do I Get An Outdoor Enclosure for my Cat?
There are many different companies that make outdoor enclosures for cats, including:
Habitat Haven, makers of The Cat's Den
Cages by Design
...just to name a few. You can construct a cat enclosure entirely by yourself or buy a kit and put it together ot hire a company to install one or hire a carpenter to build a cat fence exactly to your specifications ...the options are quite varied.
Why is an Enclosed Outdoor Area Important for Cats?
I would like to share with you the story of how I came to be so committed to keeping my cats indoors and consequently having an outdoor cat enclosure. I didn't always feel the way I do now. I was around cats from the day I was born and at that time, the concept of a cat staying indoors all the time was unheard of. An outdoor cat enclosure had not yet even entered anyone's imagination.
Even as I grew up and saw my childhood pets die on the highway in front of my house, I didn't question my parents about the cats being allowed outdoors. My heart was broken time after time, but that's just how it was.
When I grew up and was out on my own, I adopted my first cat. Actually it wasn't a cat (singular), but instead was a Momma Cat with 4 kittens that came with a house my husband and I traveled to each week-end.
The house was in the mountains, in the middle of corn fields, surrounded by the forest and fields and ponds, and not a road or neighbor in sight. The only danger to cats I had ever witnessed when I was growing up was automobiles, so I thought this place was the perfect playground for cats and completely safe. It certainly wasn't a setting that brought outdoor cat enclosures to mind.
The Outdoor Cat Dangers I Never Imagined
As time went on, I sadly learned that my cats who seemed to never leave the porch actually explored far away. Two were found dead on a road several miles from our house. I also learned about foxes and hunters and owls and other dangers.
One very precious female kitty named China just disappeared one night. I cried for days and hunted the woods and streams and fields, calling her name over and over. I learned that a missing cat caused me more pain than one who died. The imagination can conjure up terrible images of how your feline friend may be suffering, hungry, lost, or very ill. Not knowing, for me, was the worst.
However, I didn't know what to do. By this time, we had 14 cats, all very domesticated and indoors most of the time, but all of whom became frantic if they could not go outdoors.
As my heart ached for China, I watched the others leap into the air, chase each other, catch bugs, run up trees as we sat on the porch watching the sun go down, and I couldn't imagine taking that from them. Their outdoor cat enclosure was built by nature and seemed the only way to give them happiness.
For a few months all was well and, with trepidation, I continued to let my cats go outside during the daylight. Then one warm summer night, China's adorable brother didn't show up at the door as the sun set.
I can't describe the anguish I went through over the next days. It was during that time that I vowed to never again let a cat outdoors until I inquired about outdoor cat enclosures.
My First Homemade Outdoor Playground for Cats
I found a carpenter who was willing to listen to my crazy building ideas. China's brother's name was Zooks and we began building "Zooks Alley", a 5 feet tall wire pet enclosure that ran from the house to a shed about 80 feet away.
For a week, I continued to hope Zooks might return home, but my hope lessened each day and when "Zooks Alley" was finished, I handpainted a wooden plaque in honor of Zooks and hung it on the enclosure with tears.
Fortunately, this time there was a happy ending. Just as I completely lost hope, I woke up one morning and felt a cat between my knees exactly where Zooks used to sleep. I knew it couldn't be him, especially since we were no longer letting the cats out at night. There would have been no way he could have entered the house in the middle of the night.
As I turned over to see which of the cats had taken over his sleeping place, I caught the sight of his little face and curled body and began to scream with delight. I yelled to my Mom who was downstairs, "Zooks is home, Zooks is home"! She replied with a twinkle in her eye, "I know, I let him in in the middle of the night when I heard him scratching at the door."
My joy was indescribable. I had vowed while he was gone that if he ever came back, it would be the last time he ever went outdoors except in the pet enclosure ...and to this day I have kept that vow as he and the others lived to an old age before they passed on. Since then outdoor cat enclosures have remained a part of my life and always will.