Cats and balconies are a risky mix. Cats are born adventurers and might see a second or even third floor balcony as a gate to the outside world. Although cats are good at balancing on railings, they could get a fright and fall, or see a passing bird and instinctively pounce.
Vets tell too many sad stories of cats who have lived successfully with unrestricted balcony access for years, only to suffer a tragic accident later in their lives. It only takes one slip. The old adage that ‘cats always land on their feet’ is simply not true. Falls often result in broken limbs, jaws, or pelvic bones, as well as causing internal injury, which is not always immediately apparent. Some falls can be fatal.
Fortunately, balconies can be adapted easily and inexpensively to become spaces where cats can safely enjoy outdoor time. Enclosed balcony access enables cats to experience the outside world safely. Exposure to fresh air and sunshine, breezes and scents, and neighbourhood sights and noises are all psychologically beneficial for feline health.
Balcony cat-nets are a simple and highly effective choice when installed from floor to rooftop. A range of specially designed cat safety nets are available, the netting is UV and chew resistant, making the nets secure and durable. Transparent versions are available to comply with building regulations and keep balconies looking tidy without obstructing views. If you are renting and unable to affix any permanent frames to the property, there are small portable cat enclosures perfect for balcony spaces which can then be disassembled when you move.
Once your balcony is safely enclosed, add some items of feline interest to make the catio a special place for your cat. Maximise the use of vertical space by installing perches. Perches are a great addition, as they allow for elevated views over the neighbourhood and are fun for climbing, playing and even napping.
Add cat-friendly potted plants such as cat grass, catnip or cat mint. This feline-friendly greenery makes a lovely contribution to the beauty of your balcony and will give your cat something delicious to nibble on. Just keep in mind that some plants can be toxic to cats. If your cat does not have immediate access to inside the home when on the balcony, always ensure you provide fresh water and a litter tray on the balcony.
Once you have the area set up, it’s a good idea to sit on the balcony with your cat a few times before leaving them out there on their own, to ensure the area is escape proof and to show your cat it’s a nice area to spend time. Enjoy turning your balcony into a safe, enriched environment for your cat and a visually beautiful space where you can happily relax together.
Catnets are experts when it comes to cat netting, visit catnets.com.au for a fantastic range of products and accessories – everything you need to create your own special catio.
For general advice on cat care and everything feline, call the Cat Protection Society of NSW on 02 9557 4818 or visit catprotection.org.au