Cats are experts at jumping and climbing, but just because they frequently climb up high trees or even onto the roof of a house, it doesn’t mean they are safe on balconies. When climbing up or down from high spots, their extendable claws allow them to grip onto a fence or tree trunk but when on a balcony, there’s nothing between them and the ground below.
Although cats have an amazing righting reflex to land on their feet, they can still break bones or suffer internal injuries if they fall or jump from a height. Outdoor sights, smells and sounds can be very tempting for a cat, so if their curiosity gets the better of them and they fall from a balcony, it could be dangerous.
Therefore, your balcony should be made cat-safe.
5 Tips to Keep Your Cat Safe if You Have a Balcony
1. Minimise the temptation
If you have a balcony, it’s important to keep it safe! But if you’re not sure it’s suitable for your cat, there are lots of ways to give your cat the stimulation they need to minimise their temptation to explore it.
If your cat is not going to have any access to the outdoors, make sure that their indoor space has lots of high up perches with ‘stepping stone’ routes to access them. Scratching posts will help them stretch and keep their claws in good condition and don’t forget to build lots of playtime into their daily routine. If your cat has everything they need, they may be quite content to stay indoors.
If you are not able to ‘cat-proof’ your balcony, using FELIWAY Optimum in the home can support a reassuring indoor environment, helping your cat to feel comfortable and secure.
2. Secure the balcony
If you are able to ‘cat-proof’ your balcony and make it safe, your cat can still have an ‘outdoor’ experience. Installing a ‘catio’ to enclose the whole of the balcony will give your cat additional space to roam, especially in good weather. Make sure that there are no escape routes – remember cats are flexible and they may be tempted to squeeze through a small space if they spot a bird or insect they want to chase.
From netting to wire mesh, there are plenty of options to cat-proof your balcony. If DIY is your thing, make sure the material you use is durable, weatherproof, and has no sharp points once you are done. Check regularly for any areas of damage. Lastly, make sure your cat has safe, easy access from indoors, and that you can supervise their adventures!
3. Provide a large cat pen
You may not be able to construct a catio on your balcony – for example, there may be building regulations that prevent this.
Although free access for your cat would be limited, placing a large cat-pen on the balcony could also give your feline friend a taste of the outdoors. A double-height pen with comfy perching spots will also allow your cat to climb and perhaps have a snooze in the warm sunshine. Cats often like the security of a cat pen, seeing it as a sanctuary, or safe place; it can also be used indoors if you want to keep your cat away from other pets or children for a period of time.
4. Protect them from the weather
Whether you choose a catio or a cat pen, make sure they are protected from adverse weather conditions.
- If it’s a hot sunny day, provide shade
- If it’s chilly, a cosy bed inside a cardboard box will help to keep them warm
- If it’s wet, make sure they can come back indoors when they want to
- If it’s windy, provide a place where they can hide for protection
5. Make it a home-from-home
A balcony with a catio or cat pen can be an extension of their home comforts, so remember to have additional resources available – like litter trays, water bowls and toys. Cats prefer to have their food in the same quiet place every time but you can always provide a few treats (from their daily allowance) while they are in the catio.
If your catio is a permanent construction, make it more appealing to your cat by constructing perching spots for them, and even some strategically placed cat-friendly plants like cat grass or Boston fern, that your cat can enjoy.
Be aware of any items that you have on your balcony that may be dangerous for cats, like insect repellants or plant fertilizer – cats are curious creatures and may ingest these when they try to investigate them.
Take some time out and enjoy some relaxation on the balcony with your cat. What could be better than an hour spent in a comfy chair on a safe balcony with your best feline friend on your lap!
6. Be Aware!
If you cannot make your balcony safe for your cat, consider installing a mesh screen to the balcony entrance so that your cat can still enjoy the outdoor smells and sounds, without being at risk.
Never leave your cat unsupervised on the balcony alone.