How To Cat Proof Your Balcony
So many people automatically assume that their cats are safe on their balconies. Cats get stuck in trees all the time, and they always land on their feet right?!
The sad fact is that that is not always true. Cats can injure themselves falling from great heights, and in severe cases, even die.
Allowing your cat on the balcony can cause additional issues such as weather issues, plants, and many more issues.
If you and your cat live in a property that is higher than two stories, then you need to think about cat-proofing your balcony. If not, your cat could have something called High-Rise Syndrome.
What is Cat High Rise Syndrome?
Cat High–rise syndrome refers to the injuries that cats can sustain when they fall from a steep height, such as an interior second-floor landing or balcony, out a window, down a fire escape, or when they miss a jump from a landing to a higher architectural feature like a ledge or window.
Now how does cat high rise syndrome happen? Cats have great survival instincts. That means that they won’t deliberately jump from a height that would cause them injury.
But anyone that has cats has seen them fall off a bed, or slip off a counter because they are chasing a plastic wrapper. When a pet is focused on their prey that they could leap off on the balcony.
And even the most graceful feline can sometimes be clumsy. Like I mentioned earlier, we have all seen our cats fall off of a simple normal place because they get too into grooming themselves.
Sometimes, even trained indoor cats can find an open window and put themselves at risk.
But I thought all cats landed on their feet? Well, for the most part they do! Once cats have reached about 8 weeks old, they know how to do something called ‘cat righting’ The cat righting instinct is what helps them ‘right” themselves mid-fall to ensure they land on their feet. Cats can do this because of their unusually flexible spines. However, it doesn’t mean that they can fall from any height and remain uninjured.
The sad truth is a lot of vets see injuries in pets falling from heights. Injuring their legs, pelvises, jaws, and some even pass away on impact.
It truly makes me sad even writing this.
If your cat does fall, even from a short height, and you have any concerns it is worth taking them to a vet. Prompt medical attention will give your cat the best chance of survival. Trust me, you’d rather pay a vet bill now than have your pets gone by accident.
So what can you do to keep your pet safe? You can cat proof your balcony!
How To Cat Proof Your Balcony
Now that you know your need to cat proof your balcony, there are a few things you can do to make sure your cat is safe.
You can buy yourself a catio, a safe enclosure to let your cat be outside, without actually being outside.
Another options is to build yourself a catio, and even some alternative options if you are not completely sold on the idea of a catio.
Catios: The Ultimate Cat Enclosure Solution for Apartment Dwellers
Catios are the ultimate outdoor solution for apartment dwellers and one of the easiest solutions to cat proof a balcony.
If DIY is not your thing, you can buy a pre-made catio, or cat patio. And while catios can be an expensive initial purchase, you can make sure you know your cat is safe and built by professionals.
And for those of you who rent, you don’t have to worry about causing damage that you would have to pay for later.
Buying a Catio Enclosure
When picking out a catio, you want to make sure you get one that not only makes your cat happy, but doesn’t break the bank. Let’s talk about some of my favorite catios!
The easiest fix I’ve found for cats on balcony’s is this catio. It’s more than enough room for a cat to plan in, yet keeps them safe from accidental falls.
This tends to be on the pricier end, but it does keep the curb appeal of a balcony if yours is viable to others
. You could also buy a pre-made unit and install it on your patio.
Midwest Cat Play Pen
Built from heavy-duty, rust-resistant aluminum, this cat home encolsure has no gaps or pinch-points that could cause a problem for your pet. With four levels to explore, you can add enough toys to keep your cat entertained in the outdoors.
This one is not as glamorous as the original one, but it is cheaper and allows your cat to be outdoors and safe.
You will just want to make sure your cat doesn’t to and escape going from the inside to the catio.
With a hideaway retreat on the upper story, this wooden cat run is made from non-toxic fir. With space for multiple cats, this offers plenty of room for your cat(s) to explore the outdoors safely.
The biggest issue with this one, is that you need the space to put the catio.
May not be the perfect option for a balcony, but it could be a perfect addition for a backyard.
Build A Catio Yourself
If you want to make sure your catio suits your need, and save money along the way, the it may be beneficial to build you own catio.
One call out that I do want to say before going forward concerns if you rent. If you rent, then you will need to ensure that your landlord is happy with you making modifications to the property. If you own your property, then it’s worth checking any resident’s association rules to avoid causing a problem.
My best advice for anyone who want to build your own Catio is to watch a YouTube video. That will allow you to have a guide as to how to build your catio to your unique situation.
One commonality across videos is address two biggest concerns of cat owners, Railings and open spaces.
With the first your biggest concern is the space between the railings if your balcony has them. You need to make sure that your cat can’t squeeze between them, either by blocking them with solid board or adding mesh or wire.
For the second, that is more tricky. You will also need to think about how to prevent a fall from the balcony railings. Some people are able to add a netting or a wire options so you can still look out the at the view. It’s a wired view, but it will keep your pet from falling.
DIY Catio Supplies
One thing you know you will need if you are building your own catio is supplies. So I have listed out some of the most common supplies I have seen in various videos.
One of the most common supplies people use to cover the space on top of their railings is bird netting. Bird netting is designed to stop birds from getting to fruit, which will also stop birds from getting onto your failing.
The best part is, if done correctly, it also keeps your cat from falling off the ledge.
For the bottom of your railings, YardGard Galvanized Mesh. This will help you protect your cat from slipping through railings.
For the YardGard Porch guards, these can easily be secured with zipties. Zipties makes for great temporary solutions for securing nearly all netting in place.
How To Keep Your Cat Safe Without A Catio
So a catio is an amazing option for people who want to keep their cats contained in a small balcony.
But that doesn’t mean you have to catio in order for your cat to go outside
My favorite recommendations are to teach your cat to walk on a leash. If you do it in the right manner, cats can really learn to love their harness.
The biggest thing to remember with a harness if that you still need to stay with your pet on the balcony! A harness is not a safety net .
Cats don’t have collarbones. That is why people joke that cats are liquid. Which means it can be easy for cats to slip out of harnesses if they are not done right.
If you get a Velcro cat harness, similar to the one shown below, this will help keep your cat safer from escaping if they get excited and see a bird.
Cat Safety Concerns
While one of the most important things to think about with cats safety is falling. Unfortunately, falling isn’t the only problem that your pet might encounter when on your balcony. You never want to leave your cats out on the balcony alone for hours.
The biggest reason is weather conditions.
Sitting outside is great when the sun is shining and you’re sipping a nice glass of lemonade.
But just as you get hot sitting out on the balcony for too long, your cat could too. You want to make sure there is a shady spot for your cat to get relief from the sun, along with plenty of water in case they get thirsty.
And while sunny days are great, it is important not to let you cat alone out on the balcony in case it starts to rain, or gets chilly.
If they have no where to hide when the rain starts pouring, you are setting them up to be in a bad situation.
Remember, balconies that are cat proofed does not mean you can trap your cat outside for the rest of time.
Cat Friendly Plants for Balcony
Lastly, there are one more thing balconies are known for.
They are a wonderful place for us to put plants.
And while that greenery does as some color to balconies, many of the plants we commonly use are also considered toxic to your furry friend. Which means you need to cat proof your balcony plants too.
The last thing you want is for your pet to accidentally poison itself by nibbling on your floral displays.
Some common plants that need to be avoided from cats are the following: Chrysanthemums, Cyclamen, English Ivy, Daffodils and Tulips and more.
If you have any of these plants on your balcony, my honest advice is to not let your on the balcony until the plants are removed.
If your cat gets on the balcony with these plants and have eaten or licked it, call your vet immediately.
Symptoms of poisoning in cats include breathlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling or excessive swallowing. If in any doubt, consult your vet.
Is it safe to let my cat on the balcony?
A cat is never completely safe on an un-enclosed balcony. While your cat may go years without any issues, all it takes is one clumsy moment, particularly if you are above the second story.
Do cats know not to jump off of balconies?
We have a “balcony” inside our house that I have caught our cats jumping on.
And it terrifies me. But the cats never seem to jump off.
Cats also have a natural aversion to jumping from heights. Yes, cats have a natural aversion to jumping from heights which they cannot accurately judge or which might injure them. This doesn’t mean that accidents don’t happen. Even though most cats can “land on their feet”, the laws of gravity are still in effect. A fall from a any height can still injure or kill a cat.
How high can cats fall?
I seriously hate this question, even though I have asked it myself.
The good news is that cats can usually fall from a second story and be fine (sometimes minor injuries are common).
It’s possible that a cat can fall multiple stories and still survive (albeit with injuries). According to this study in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, 90% of cats survived falling 5.5 stories at a terminal volocity of 60 MPH (132 accident report cases).
And while the Journal of AVMA says that cats can be safe fallin from the high, this does not mean that your cat is safe!
Does This Mean I Can’t Live Up High?
Although balconies can be a problem for cats, there’s no reason why even high-rise dwellers can’t let their cats enjoy the great outdoors.
As long as you do it carefully! Cat proof your balcony people!
You can do something such as a catio to keep your cat safe, or you can make your entire patio a ‘catio’!
If your cat is safe, then I am happy!!!!