Above Left: Homemade cat run making use of under eave space
Above Right: Commercially built run, courtesy of Catio Spaces (www.CatioSpaces.com)
Domestic cats, are a favourite pet of many people. I love all animals, including cats, but I also know just how much damage a free ranging cat can do. It is estimated in Australia that there are 15 cats per 100 people and data suggests domestic cats kill somewhere between 5 and 30 vertebrates per year. While this may not seem like much, when you add it up across all cats in an area, that is a significant impact. For example if Little Grove had a population of 3000 people that equates to 450 cats and between 2,250 and 13,500 animals killed per year by just those cats.
It is understandable that there is an increasing push for greater cat control, so I decided to take a look at how to keep your kitty safe and happy at home, starting off with catios or cat runs. I was first introduced to these about 15 or so years ago when my sister and her husband installed one at their home in Perth. It was a small homemade run which made use of space under the eaves and allowed their cats to go out through a window into a small garden area to sunbathe. Sometime later they decided to expand the catio venture and make use of a narrow unused space between their house and the fence. This area doesn’t get much sun but provides a perfect hideout on hot Perth days and it makes use of one of those difficult areas you find in urban yards.
I asked my sister how she felt about their cat run experience. ‘We wouldn’t have a cat without a cat run. Firstly we would feel completely responsible if our cat was killed or injured while out and about, and that would be awful, pretty traumatic. And then there are the birds and lizards which we love sharing our yard with. Best of all our cats love them, it’s their special area’
Today there are companies that make catios and there is lots of information and ideas for cat runs. While researching I noticed there are also non-cage containment systems. One system attaches to the top of your fence and simply makes it impossible for your cat to get a foot hold on top of your fence. With more places around Australia introducing cat containment legislation aimed at protecting our native fauna, it’s a great time to start investigating what options might work for your cat.