Tips on Choosing Cat Enclosures
It's a jungle out there – the outside world is full of hazards. That's why more cat owners are keeping their feline friends inside. Keeping kitty indoors is the responsible thing to do and protects cats from loss, disease and injury. Cats adapt well to indoor living if they are provided with enough exercise and stimulation to keep them fit, interested and alert.
When designing an enclosure or habitat, consider the following:
- Cats are very good at climbing, jumping and squeezing through small holes. Be sure the enclosure is sturdy and secure. This is particularly important when using cat proof fencing.
- Don't use materials that are toxic or harmful to cats, such as wood preservatives or sharp uncovered metal.
- Supervise the first week or two to be sure kitty doesn't find unnoticed escape routes.
- Include a roof that is catproof and weatherproof, or that can be made weatherproof during the winter months.
- Make sure to secure the bottom as well as the sides and top. Cats may dig their way out from underneath.
- Always provide access to shade and water, or allow your cat to retreat into the house when necessary. Putting your cat in a shadeless enclosure in the sun on a warm day can kill.
- Include perches, walkways, cat trees, and other equipment to give cats the opportunity to exercise and satisfy their need to scratch.
- Use many different levels. This adds to the available space and gives the cats room to explore and stake claims to individual areas.
Remember, most enclosures will not prevent exposure to parasites and communicable diseases. Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, flies and other organisms can jump or fly into an enclosure. Free roaming cats infected with contagious diseases can pass them to your kitty if they can get close enough. While some diseases like feline immune deficiency virus (feline AIDS) are not easy to contract through casual contact (the common mode of FIV transmission is bite wounds), others such as the deadly feline leukemia virus (FeLV) can be contracted more easily. Be sure kitty is current with all vaccinations including FeLV, and use a flea preventive if you live in an infected area.