Cats are naturally curious creatures. Even when living in the comforts of a domesticated home, cats love to explore their surroundings and enjoy the world for what it is. While that behavior is admirable in many living situations,
it can be a real nail-biter in others.
If you live in a high-rise condo or apartment, giving your cat the freedom to explore isn't so easy. Space is a commodity in urban environments.
Outdoor living is limited, leaving few opportunities for your feline friend to sunbathe and relish in the fresh air.
Their best bet is the balcony, and most cats won't hesitate to take full advantage of it.
But is your balcony safe for your cat?
Unless you live on the first floor and don't have an actual balcony at all, it's not!
Cats are not Indestructible
Contrary to popular belief, cats are not indestructible! They might have agile movements and a keen sense of "righting" themselves mid-air after a leap of faith.
However, they're still prone to injuries.
While cats can undoubtedly survive a second-story jump, there's a good chance that they'll get hurt. If you live even higher than that, your balcony becomes a pure danger zone!
Fortunately, there are ways to make your balcony cat-proof.
The Prevalence of Cat Injuries in High Rise Living
Before we get into the details of how to make your balcony safe, let's talk about why you should do it.
Cats have this unique reputation of being super intelligent and agile. When you see one play, it's not difficult to see why.
These animals are like agile acrobats! They seem to always land on their feet and are fearless enough to leap from pretty scary heights.
Have you ever watched a stray cat navigate an urban setting? It's enough to give anyone anxiety!
Felines won't hesitate to scale balconies, electrical wires, and any other potential walking surface to get from point A to point B.
It's a genuinely harrowing sight. Despite their superhero-like bravery, accidents are more common than most think. A cat's curiosity can get the best of them, leading to accidental falls.
In urban settings, feline falls are so common that veterinarians have a term for it: High-rise syndrome.
High-rise syndrome is a catch-all name that refers to any injury cats experience after falling from balconies, fire escapes, and open windows.
Cats have a natural fondness for heights. Your balcony might seem safe at first, but many felines underestimate the dangers. They let their curiosity take over, leading to unnecessary risks.
Because buildings feature materials that cats can't easily grip onto, falls can be pretty nasty. All of your pet's instincts go out the window, leading to grave injuries that frequently lead to death.
When Do You Need to Build a Cat-Proof Balcony?
Protective measures are necessary anytime you have a balcony.
Obviously, ground-floor patios are fine as far as safety goes. But even then, you may want to take precautionary measures to ensure that your cat doesn't run off and get lost.
Generally, issues occur with balconies starting on the second floor.
Now, some cats will have no problem jumping from a second-story balcony. There are even reports of a cat who survived after falling from the 32nd story!
It doesn't matter whether your cat comes out unscathed after a fall. You still need to take measures to keep them safe! Accidents are bound to happen at some point.
The risks increase as they get older. The last thing you want to do is give your cat free rein to do what they want. They can get over-zealous and over-confident, leading to an ever-present risk of harm.
How to Prevent Your Cat from Jumping Off Your Balcony
There are a couple of ways to make your balcony much safe. While some cat owners prefer to keep the outdoor space off-limits, doing so is depriving your cat of some valuable "me-time."
Having access to the fresh and sunny outdoors can do a lot to enrich your kitty's life.
Luckily, you can take some steps to give them all the outdoor access they need without the inherent risks.
Gathering Your Materials
First things first, you'll need to pick up some mesh or netting.
The goal of cat-proofing your balcony is to create a literal safety net.
Mesh and or wire netting will catch your cat if they lose their footing. It acts as a barrier while still letting all the fresh air flow through. Both types of materials work well, but you need to choose something durable enough to last.
Avoid cheaper materials that will break after only a couple of weeks. It's a good idea to steer clear of anything that's overly thick and difficult to work with, too.
Keep an eye out for mesh and netting that's specifically for outdoor use. It should hold up well to the elements and maintain its strength for years to come.
At the bare minimum, the material must have UV protection. With the sun beating down every day, cheaper alternatives can break down surprisingly quickly.
When this happens, the net or mesh screen will give way whenever your cat needs it most.
Not sure what type of product is best for your cat-proofing endeavors. Check these screens and nets out.
Screens / Nets
DocaScreen Pet Screen
Available in a couple of different sizes, this mesh screen is a fantastic choice for balconies. At first glance, it doesn't look like much. That's a good thing!
While the material does block out some sun, the impact isn't egregious enough to cause much of an issue. In fact, you and your cat might enjoy the subtle shade it provides.
Taking a closer look unveils some surprisingly stable features. The first is the material. It's made of vinyl-coated polyester, which is both tear and scratch-resistant.
Your cat's claws are no match for the protection it offers! On top of all that, the mesh fabric is soft, flexible, and anti-wrinkle for a professional look.
Saint-Gobain Pet Screen
The Saint-Gobain screen is another suitable choice that you can get in many different sizes. The mesh is woven polyester yarn. While it looks delicate, the material is tear-resistant.
The manufacturers believe in the product's strength so much that they offer a generous 10-year warranty to back up those claims.
The mesh has some other unique features, too. First, it has low chemical emissions.
You don't have to worry about that uncomfortable odor that often comes with products like this, making it a good option for those with sensitivities.
The screen is also flame-resistant, which is a huge plus.
Bird Netting 25'x50' Heavy Duty Nylon Netting
This net is nylon multifilament. It's surprisingly strong and has a few different built-in protections.
The net is both tear and tangle-resistant, which helps to prevent accidental damage from your cat. It also has UV protection for long-lasting security despite the constant bombardment of sun rays.
The netting itself is very open. Initially designed for shielding garden plants, it's purpose-built to allow sun, water, and air to get through. However, the tight weave is strong enough to catch falling cats.
Scissors and zip ties are a must, too. Your average craft scissors aren't going to cut it here.
We recommend using industrial or construction-grade scissors that are tough enough to cut through thick materials. If all else fails, wire cutters work just as well.
The cable ties are going to anchor your mesh or net down. Once again, choose high-quality ties that are capable of withstanding harsh weather. Here's an excellent product to try out.
- TR Industrial Multi-Purpose UV Resistant Black Cable Ties
Most don't give zip ties a second thought, but these little accessories are just as important as the net itself. This one is UV-resistant nylon.
The tensile strength is 50 pounds, which is more than enough to support a cat. Like most cable tie designs, the locking mechanism only works one way.
As a result, you don't have to worry about loosening over time. Once you install it, the cable tie won't go anywhere! It'll securely hold the net or mesh screen for years.
Putting it All Together
Once you have all of your materials ready, it's time to get to work!
To cat-proof your balcony, you need to cover every open area with the mesh or netting you choose. While you could use one material over the other, we recommend using a combination of the two.
For the bottom section of your balcony, take advantage of the mesh. The bottom of open railings is just as dangerous to cats as the top. Most barriers aren't designed to stop small animals like your feline friend from falling through.
Using the mesh and cable ties, wrap the entire bottom half of the railing. Secure the material at multiple points to ensure no open gaps exist.
Your cat can easily use those to wriggle their way through.
For the open area above the balcony railing, netting comes in handy. Drape the net from the top of the balcony cover down to the railing. If you don't have an overhead shelter, you can tent the material from the balcony door.
Whatever the case may be, make sure things are just as tight as before.
Use several ties to keep gaps to a minimum. It's not hard for cats to climb netting, so pay special attention to the top!
If you own your unit, consider investing in professional screening. DIY cat-proofing is excellent if you're a renter, but full screening can give you the same results with a more polished finish.
Don't assume that your cat is wise enough to avoid falls. As the saying goes, "Curiosity killed the cat!"
To avoid any mishaps, take steps to make your balcony as safe and enjoyable for your cat as possible.
Also Read: Why Do Cats Flop Down?