Keeping a cat or dog in an apartment is generally fine, but even house cats enjoy being outside sometimes.
If you have a balcony, it can be an ideal place for your cat to sit and relax in the sun. Providing it’s a cat proof balcony, of course.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make your balcony safe for cats while not losing any of its outdoor charm. Here are our top 6 cat friendly balcony ideas.
1. Build a Catio
A catio (cat patio) is a common way of providing house cats with outdoor space in a secure way. They can range from simple wire frames to intricate, multi-level structures.
When building a catio for an apartment balcony, the most important thing is to ensure it’s safe.
If you’ve got a bit of DIY knowledge, the best option might be to build one yourself using some lumber and chicken wire. This way, you can customize it to the available space.
Check out this video for details on how to build a catio for an apartment balcony.
Alternatively, you can buy large playpens on sites like Amazon that you could modify for an apartment balcony.
2. Use Netting
Perhaps the most obvious option for making your balcony cat safe is netting. A cat balcony net would simply cover the open space to prevent them from jumping off.
This video should give you a pretty good idea of what this looks like in practice.
Of course, you’ll need to make sure your cat balcony net is securely fixed in place, as it wouldn’t take much for a cat to squeeze through a gap if it really wanted to.
Something like deck netting is a good choice because it’s pretty hardwearing and secure. Alternatively, bird proof netting that you’ll find in hardware stores or specialist pet stores will do the job.
3. Stop them jumping on the railing
This option is only really suitable if you live on a first-floor apartment and you don’t mind your cat possibly getting out. Giving them access to the balcony railing will always mean there’s a chance they’ll jump onto it, even if you put something in place.
Preventing jumping really depends on the individual cat, as some are much more adventurous than others. But if you think your cat is easily dissuaded, you have a few options.
The first is to put scrunched up balls of tinfoil on top of the railings. Many cats don’t like foil because of its texture and noise. If they jump on it once, chances are it won’t happen again.
Another option is to hang fairy lights from the balcony railing. For many cats, this makes the surface look unstable and they won’t risk jumping on it.
Finally, you could try cat repellent spray, but this runs the risk of scaring them off the balcony entirely.
4. Buy or Build a Cat Window Box
Most cats will be content with a window ledge to sit on so they can survey the world. If you don’t have a suitable ledge, consider a cat window box instead.
A cat window box – also known as a window catio – is essentially a mini catio that sits in front of a window. It gives the cat some fresh air and somewhere outside to sit and means you don’t have to block off your whole balcony.
You can buy them online but they’re really easy to make, too. All you need is some lumber, wire and screws. You can find some great plans for building one.
To build one, do the following:
- Measure your window and ensure the box is wider by a few inches. If you have a window that opens up, the box’s height should be level with the open window.
- Start with the floor, which can be MDF. Measure and cut it so size.
- Cut the vertical and horizontal supports from 2×4. There should be one for each corner and one for each side of the roof (so 8 in total).
- Fix these in place using glue and nails for security.
- Line everything with wire, stapling in place.
- On the floor, lay some rubber mat or something easy to clean.
- Cut some vertical supports for anchoring the box to the building.
- Fix the box to the building using vertical and horizontal supports.
- If you feel like it, install a cat flap in the window for convenience.
You can check out this video for more visual instructions.
5. Provide Distractions
While this won’t technically result in a cat proof balcony, the more distractions you put in place, the less likely your cat will be to go wandering.
Some great options include a bamboo or jute rug they can lie on and claw, some toys, or a scratching post.
Your cat might enjoy some plants, too, but ensure they’re not toxic. Similarly, stay away from plastic things, as your cat will likely chew on them. Some good plant options include:
- Catnip (obviously)
- Spider plants
- Cat grass
None of these are toxic and so your cat can happily play with them and chew on them whenever they want.
6. Use an Outdoor Screen Enclosure
Outdoor screen enclosures are a great way to make a cat proof balcony because they block off exit points but still let in light. As a result, your cat will be free to roam and will still be able to look out.
Also, it means you don’t have to sacrifice your space by building a catio for your apartment balcony. As with netting, though, make sure the screen is securely installed so your cat can’t squeeze through any gaps.
Ensuring you have a cat proof balcony isn’t particularly difficult. But finding the right balance between security and looks can be.
After all, you want your cat to be safe, but your apartment balcony isn’t just for them!
A cat balcony net offers one of the easiest options for securing your balcony, and, if done right, doesn’t look too bad either. But if you’re a bit more DIY savvy, try a cat window box or catio instead.