Animal welfare organizations and humane societies have been very successful in helping people to accept that their cats are safer living exclusively indoors, especially in urban areas. However, cat lovers still want to give their cats a chance to enjoy fresh air and all the sights and sounds that come with it. One way to do this safely is to create a cattery.
The term cattery originally referred to a facility that kept and bred colonies of cats. Today, the term is being used to describe a sort of pet playpen. A home cattery is an enclosed, outdoor area in which a pet cat can bask in the sun or exercise. The site can be a lawn, a porch or an apartment balcony, and a variety of building plans can be found on the Internet. The important ingredients of a cattery are size, security and access.
How big to build depends on the activity level of your cat and the amount of space available. If you have an acrobatic cat living in your apartment, you might try to build a structure taller than it is wide, with several ledges for her to jump around on. If your cat is more sedentary and you have a large yard, you might create a cattery that has one or two shelves, but has cat grass and catnip planted inside to provide sensory stimulation.
A cattery can be made from wooden posts and wire mesh. Be certain that all sharp edges are covered or made inaccessible to your cat. If you have a door to enter/exit the cattery, make sure it can be latched securely. Check the cattery frequently for holes or loose spots in the mesh. Make sure that the cattery has a roof. It doesn't have to be expensive - a sheet of strong cloth attached to the sides will do - something to keep your cat in, and anything else out.
If you build your cattery on your porch or balcony, include a cat door so your pet can come in and go out as she pleases. Put some cat toys out for her, and research what non-toxic plants you might put inside to make it like a jungle. Some people hang bird feeders outside the cattery to attract birds for their cat to watch. A scratching post and sturdy climbing pole are just the thing to encourage your cat to exercise.
Keep the cattery clean. Providing a litter box will cut down on the amount of clean up you need to do. Be sure to place a large, clean bowl of water in the cattery so your cat has access to fresh liquid as she needs it. If you have a problem with bugs then you should consider bug-proof food dishes. If you leave your cat in the cattery for long periods of time, don't forget to stock her with a bowl of dry cat food and make sure she has a way to get out of the sun or rain/snow, or make sure this is an area that is sheltered from extremes of weather.
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