The only way I know how to keep my cats in my yard that works, is to provide a physical barrier.
If the cats are going to have freedom to be in the yard, cat-proof fencing, a Catio, or some form of cat containment system is the only way to keep them safe and sound.
This article explains the best and most effective options.
How To Keep My Cats In My Yard
Table Of Contents
CATIO – Buy, DIY or get someone else to build a purpose built cat enclosure commonly called a Catio
CAT ENCLOSURE – PERMANENT OR TEMPORARY A ready made cat enclosure, installed or adapted to fit at your house.
Cat Proof Fencing
You may already have a back yard completely fenced and if so, you’re in luck.
There are various ways to modify existing fences to turn your fence into a cat fence. You will need to factor in the cost of the modifications combined with the amount of fencing you have. Obviously a smaller yard will be easier to manage.
If your yard is large, fencing part of it may work. This may or may not be practical for your situation. All yards are different. I am offering suggestions that will work for some but not for others.
1. Oscillot Cat Containment System
The Oscillot Containment System can be used on any fence that is a minimum of 6 ft high. The system uses spinning paddles installed on the top of the fence. The cat is not able to gain traction because when a paw hits a paddle, the paddle spins.
Watch this short video to see determined attempts by five different cats to escape their Oscillot protected yard.
I have to give these cats their due. In normal circumstances, with nothing to prevent them from going over the top of the fence, they would be gone.
They must be wondering what is going on. Frustrating for the cat, a genius solution to stop cats escaping the yard.
What about your fence? Everyone’s fence is different. There is no one scenario for having success with Oscillot.
Look at all the different fence variations below and on the Oscillot site to see what I mean. It is suitable for metal, timber, masonry, vinyl and composite fencing.
No cages and no netting.
It just sits on top of the fence, barely noticeable unless you knew about it already.
Most cats eventually stop trying to escape.(some won’t)
It is DIY and a satisfying project with a positive result.
60 day money back guarantee and 3 year warranty.
It will take a bit of work, measuring and installation to put into place.
If you are not a DIYer, it will necessary to employ a home handyman to install or cajole a family member to help.
Oscillot® is designed for DIY installation on existing fences that are at least 6 feet in height. The existing fence can be made of metal, timber, masonry, vinyl, or composite fencing.
It is a DIY system, and the product is available in kits. The aluminium paddles have four blades, and they are designed for installation running consecutively the length of the fence line between mounting components containing bearings.
2. Coyote Roller Kit
This is another roller system to keep your cats in and other predators or small animals out.
Depending on the size of your yard or garden, it can be a costly exercise.
However, if you have a small balcony or courtyard, this would be an ideal cat fence solution to keep your cat safe.
It can also be dismantled and used elsewhere. This is a big plus for people renting a property.
Another positive is that coyote rollers on top of a fence also help to prevent other animals and critters from entering the yard.
TIP: If there is a small space between the rollers when installing them at your place, try attaching a taut wire between the spaces with a bell attached. The noise of the bell is a discouragement in itself.
Ideal for a balcony or courtyard.
Heavy duty and easy to install.
May require assistance to install.
Coyote Rollers are made by Ultimation Industries. There are different size rollers, longer and shorter than the one shown on this page. Some are polyurethane coated which some people prefer compared to metal.
The roller on this page is 18 Ga galvanised steel and has crimped, oiled bearings.
The roller is spring loaded on one end and is easily removable from the brackets which means it can easily be taken apart if necessary and moved to another location.
The load capacity of this roller is 100 pound max (some are 250 pounds). The 2 slotted mounting holes have an opening of 13/32″ for 3/8″screws or bolts.
The Coyote roller set includes: (1) 1.5″ diameter x 36″ between frame galvanized steel roller with (2) mounting brackets. Mounting hardware is not included.
3. PVC Pipe
A PVC pipe installed on the top of a fence is going to make it very difficult, if not impossible, for your feline friend to get over the fence.
The combination of the shape of the pipe being round and the smooth finish means that the cat cannot get a grip on the pipe to haul himself up and over the top to the other side.
It is a simple but brilliant idea. Of course, there are always those parts of the yard where this won’t work.
We need to be thinking one step ahead. Some of these other good ideas will be listed further on in this article.
A PVC pipe can be attached on top of the fence or near the top on your side of the fence.
It may be preferable to install the pipe on your side of the fence, which eliminates the need to have interaction with neighbors if that is an issue.
Note: If the neighbors’ cats are entering your yard, the PVC pipe will need to be on top of the fence.
The video below shows how simple this is to put into practice.
Instead of PVC pipe being used, the presenter has used downpipe. The beauty of this is that it can be painted if desired.
What is the most suitable size pipe? Three inch PVC pipe is the most suitable size, but you are not limited to that size.
You may already have a supply of PVC pipe suitable to construct this barrier and will just need to buy some brackets.
PVC pipe is cheap and it is fairly easy to cut to size to suit your requirements. Always use gloves and take precautions.
Do you want the pipe to roll? You can do this but it will take considerably more effort. It can be done and the video below explains how.
Don’t bother watching unless you think that the rolling method is the way to go. You will need a few handyman skills.
4. Mesh Fencing
Do you already have a fence? This is a cat fence conversion kit that turns your existing fence into a cat containment system using overhead netting and metal brackets.
This kit is suitable for any structure that is over 5 ft. It is easy to install. Gates can be converted too.
Make sure that you look for any gaps that the cat could climb through.
Think like your kitty!
Note: It is not beyond some cats to climb up this netting even at an inward facing 45 degrees. They are able to pull themselves over the top. You know your cat the best and their escapability and jumping prowess.
A Catio would have to be what every indoor cat dreams of. A catio is an outdoor area, usually freestanding and enclosed with mesh or chicken wire.
The cat’s access can be though and existing pet door or even modified for a window. Catios can also be free-standing structures where you decide how long your cat in in the garden or on the balcony.
It contains cat paraphernalia like climbing towers, wall shelves, often some greenery and comfortable places to recline.
Cats love rolling around in the dirt so this is something to consider when planning the Catio.
A DIY catio can be as large and creative as the maker desires.
Cats can spend the day in the catio, weather permitting and come inside at night.
They have the advantage of being outdoors but safe from predators.
Sometimes a catio has an entrance into the house through a cat door. This allows the cat to come and go from the catio. However, the cat door can also be closed to keep the cat inside.
A catio has a roof to protect from the weather.
This Catio is a DIY kit.
It has 6 platforms and measures 71 x 38.5 x 71 inches. Some enterprising cat owners have found ways to incorporate the catio with the indoors.
One example was, removing the mesh from a panel, positioning the open mesh part of the structure against a window and adding a cat door to the window.
This is just one idea but it may spark some ideas for you if you are thinking of doing something like this.
The positive aspect is that the cats can come and go as they please.
Note that this in no way encourage stray cats, as it is you who has the control of how to enter and exit the catio.
I think I want a catio of my own. Just bring me in if it gets too hot or starts to rain.
If possible, assemble the catio at the chosen location or at least nearby. They are not easy structures to move when fully assembled. The Catio shown below would work very well on a balcony. It measures 70.75 x 31.5 x 44 inches.
It is suitable for more than one cat. The frame is made from fir and is sealed with a pet-friendly sealant.
The flat roof is covered with asphalt which gives extra protection against the weather, sun or rain. The full size door gives you easy access to enter and exit the enclosure.
A cat enclosure may also be called a catio. I have made a distinction between catios and cat enclosures.
Cat enclosures, are usually fully assembled, although there may be some minor assembly.
Cat enclosures are also structures that are easy to move from place to place
This is a cat enclosure that needs some very basic assembly. It is lightweight and can basically go anywhere that you have the space. Move it around to different parts of the yard.
It is a brilliant enclosure and is easy to set up. It is suitable for more than one cat. There is a zipper at the end of each tunnel.
Another complete unit can be added if the space is needed. Although this is a temporary enclosure, it is roomy.
The cat or cats have the opportunity to move around freely and have a reasonable amount of space.
There is over 30 sq ft of space and the tunnel is 62 inches long. It doesn’t need any tools to set up.
The floor is not detachable so for those kitties who seem to be able to flatten themselves to escape, this tactic will not work.
The tunnel can be used inside too.
Cats love tunnels, well mostly. We can never be too sure from day to day what will work. The tunnel could be IN one day and OUT the next.
Portable cat enclosures. Also used for short periods of time and can be transported to another location.
When using these cat enclosures, it is necessary to think of the cat as a small child and take the same safety precautions. This is particularly so if you are in an unfamiliar location.
There is always that need to be one step ahead and anticipating what might happen. For example, your enclosure may need extra protection from the sun if it is warm. Always provide water.
These playpens are a temporary way of keeping cats in the yard. A playpen is useful when you are doing work in the backyard or having someone else do yard work. It is easy for a gate to be left open, no matter what precautions you have taken.
The two playpens below are temporary solutions only. They don’t replace a cat fence and cats won’t like being inside a playpen for long periods of time.
Outback Jack Kitty Compound Cat Playpen Tent & Tunnel
Other Good Ideas
Do you have an area of the yard where none of these things will work? It may be a short section of fence, perhaps a gate or an awkward corner.
If our cat sees a space in the containment system, he is off.
Try using polycarbonate roof panelling. It makes an inexpensive barrier. This needs to be cut to size and fixed to the gate, wall etc. Drill some pilot holes and fasten to the structure.
The panelling is smooth so the cat will not be able to get purchase to get over the wall. Make sure that the polycarbonate section is long enough so that the cat can’t simply fly over the top. We know how persistent cats are.
Polycarbonate roof panelling will be unobtrusive in your yard as it is usually clear or light in color..
Another handy use for polycarbonate sheeting. To stop the cat climbing a tree construct a simple barrier around the trunk of a tree. Think of a cat or dog collar (used when recovering from illness) and you will have an idea of the basic shape. It is weather resistant and it is easy to replace if necessary.
There is bound to be one idea that you think is more likely to be successful.
Before you go to any cost, buying supplies, consider how that system will work for you.
Actively survey your space and brainstorm for any problems. Polycarbonate sheeting is ideal for filling any small gaps. Few people have a yard that is a perfect square or rectangle.
You may decide that a catio or portable structure is the best way to go. All you need to do is choose the best one for your situation.
A cat disappearing is stressful, and you have a feeling of helplessness.
In our case, our elderly cat needed to be kept within the confines of our yard. He showed that he was very determined to ‘escape’, despite what we thought was an escape proof DIY facility.
One of our first modifications was not to the fence but to the front porch. Our cat was clearly punching above his weight and age, regarding escaping. We are definitely wiser now.
This resource provides practical information about the behavior of lost cats which can help you to formulate an organized plan.