It's a choice cat lovers make.
One choice is to let your cat out of the house so she or he can enjoy fresh air, enjoy sunshine, chase bugs and get some exercise. . .
. . . the other choice is keep your cat inside so she is prevented from wandering away and getting lost, safe from the danger from traffic, safe from the danger from wild animals and wicked humans.
Not an easy choice to make at all.
But it does not necessarily have to be all one way or the other.
There are a few ways that you can basically keep your cat safely inside and allow her to at least occasionally sample outside life.
Most of the ways of doing this involve the use of some kind of cat fence.
Let's take a look at the options.
Taking your cat for a walk on a harness and leash is a way of letting her enjoy the outdoors without the risk of her getting hurt or running away.
Your cat is not confined to your back yard as she would be with a cat fence.
You can walk her anywhere it is safe to do so, (but best to avoid areas with heavy vehicle traffic.)
Not all cats will take to a harness and those that do take to it only after a lot of training.
However if your cat does accept the harness all that training can be worth it. See - Cat on a Leash.
A cat enclosure is another option that will provide a space for your cat to enjoy the open air without the risk of going missing.
Available in many styles, types and sizes from the very small, to constructions that cover most of your yard.
Apart from the size, the main difference between a cat enclosure and a cat fence is that the enclosure will have a roof of some kind. Read more about Cat Enclosures.
A flexible mesh cat fence comprises of plastic netting attached between metal poles enclosing your yard.
The mesh is tough but pliable and is affixed securely - but somewhat loosely.
The flexibility of the mesh is one of the features of these fences that stops cats from climbing out.
Cats, able climbers that they are, like a firm footing. When a cat attempts to climb the flexible fencing it does not feel like it is going to support the cat's weight.
The cat is deterred from climbing, but of course, cats do not give up easily.
Then again, the look of this style of cat fence is not to everyone's taste.
Trees in your yard can be a problem. The cat clambers up the trunk, negotiates its way along a branch and leaps over the fencing to freedom.
Tree collars are a solution, these fit around the trunk, they are angled in the same way the tops of the fences are, the cat can't climb past the collar.
If you have good fencing, no gaps, holes or spaces, then a cheaper option is available. You can obtain just the angled part of the flexible containment fence and fix it all along the top of your existing fence.
There are several different kinds of electric cat containment systems. Most incorporate a wire that you fix around the perimeter of your yard. A receiver is supplied for your cat to wear, these are often know as correction collars (sounds medieval.)
Wireless, or invisible cat fencing, works in pretty much the same way as those with an in-ground wire except there is no wire around your yard.
The system uses a transmitter that sends a signal out in a radius of usually around 150 feet. A wireless fence can be useful if you want to confine your cat to one part of your yard.
Of course if you believe that subjecting an animal to an electric shock, no matter how mild and harmless, is cruelty – then you will not want to consider an electric cat fence.
Is an electric cat fence foolproof?
Invisible cat fencing works and can work very well indeed. But cats have been known to escape from them.
A very determined cat can get free. An unneutered Tom Cat getting the scent of a queen on heat may well decide that it is worth a mild shock to chase after what he must have.
Before you let your cat loose in your yard there is a little training involved.
Your cat will need to wear a harness and leash for the training and also the correction collar.
Walk your cat around and let her get used to the collar, when she is comfortable with it, walk your cat over to the fence. A warning tone will sound from the collar alerting your cat that she is close to the line.
Permit your cat to continue to the line and receive a correction shock, (no you are not being cruel.)
Do this in several places around your yard.
In this way your cat learns to turn back when she gets the warning tone.
Be aware of a potential danger with any system designed to keep your cat confined to your yard.
Your cat may not be able to get out, but predators may be able to get in.
Fencing with the top angled inwards, may be very effective in stopping your cat from climbing up and over from the inside. From the outside tho, a predator may be able to climb up and over successfully.
An electric cat fence system may not stop an animal coming in, a large animal may not be bothered by a mild shock.
A tree that grows outside your yard may give a predator a place to launch himself into your yard.
The best thing is that you are there supervising your cat. If you can't always be there, your cat should have somewhere safe to run to.
A small pet door into your house fits the bill, it should be just big enough to let your cat in but small enough to keep larger animals out.
Remember to leave your cat some food and, most importantly, some water, if you are leaving her out in the yard protected by her cat fence. A place out of the sun where she can get some shade is also very important.
Cat Scratching Posts.
A complete range of scratching posts are available because not all cats like to scratch in the same way. Some like to scratch vertically and some like to scratch horizontally. Your cat is far more likely to use the post if it's the kind that she prefers.