How to keep your cat in the yard?
A neighbor asked me this question the other day, since we both have cats. Well, cats are stubborn creatures and we cannot really train them, the way we can train our dogs.
No matter how much we try, our curious cats will always find ways to leave the yard or prowl around the neighborhood, jump over the fences and even from the window ledges.
Yes, things can get really scary when a cat jumps into the streets, especially in an area with heavy traffic.
Thankfully, there are methods that can help you keep your cat safe in the yard. I have personally used some of these methods and only recommending the tried and true ones.
Below are top 7 solutions to how to keep your cat in the yard:
How to Keep Your Cat in the Yard – 7 Easy Solutions!
Our cats jump fences and they explore their surroundings. However, as fun as this may be for a cat, it can endanger our furry baby and could lead to injuries and illnesses as well.
Here are some ways to keep your cat in the yard:
1. Train your pet to be an indoor cat/house cat
Yes, this can be done. You can turn your cat to be an indoor cat. And it is the best way to prevent accidents, illnesses, and injuries too. Indoor cats are safer and healthier and you can even help them live longer.
The key is to start early – you must train your kitten to be indoors all the time, so that it does not feel inclined to escape or leave the house.
You also need to neuter/spay your cat – this will further reduce your pet’s chances of escaping.
Many cat behaviorists have successfully trained older or adult outdoor cats to stay indoors by simply restricting their movement and preventing them from leaving the house.
Bottom-line: With time, even an outdoor cat can become an indoor cat.
2. Build a cat enclosure
An outside enclosure or a ‘run’ is just what a cat needs to stay safe in the yard.
You can build a ‘cat door’ or a cat flap to the enclosure or designate one door or window that allows your cat to easy access the enclosure. Enclosures can be built as attachments to existing structures like a shed or a garage, or to your house itself.
An enclosure offers your cat the best of both worlds – it can safely view the outside, get some sunshine, and yet stay safe from accidents, stray cat attacks, and even the dreaded feline leukemia virus.
Alternatively, you could also invest in a multiple-tier cat crates or kennels like this one . These can house multiple cats and help satisfy their need/instinct to climb and perch.
These days, crates or kennels also come with wheels or casters, so you can roll them to different spots in the yard – even more mental stimulation for your cats!
3. A cat tent/cat tunnel
A cat tent –also called a cat tunnel – allows indoor cats to safely enjoy the sun in the backyard while staying safe from predators.
Cat tunnels like this one from Outback Jack offer your pet nearly 30-square foot of activity space – plenty to place their litter box, toys, and treats. Your cats will never be bored with this one!
In addition to outdoor/backyard use, cat tents can also be placed in the balcony.
4. A pet playpen
A portable pet playpen is a small enclosure that helps you house your cats in the backyard.
Playpens feature multiple windows and mesh ceilings that deliver visibility and fresh air. They also are convenient to take your cats along on camping trips.
5. A fully netted fence with overhead nets
With special nets or chicken wire, you can cover your entire backyard – especially the gaps in the fence. You can also ensure that no predators from the sky swoop down on your unsuspecting kitty with help of an overhead netting.
Full netting tend to be costly and could require professional installation although there are some DIY net installation techniques you could explore.
6. Use oscillot cat fences
Cat fences with oscillots or rotating paddles deter your cat’s movement on the fence. The oscillot swings inwards which frightens your cat from jumping on the fence and out of the yard.
The benefits of oscillot fences are that they are easy to install, cost effective, blend in with the fence, and also keep your cats happier as they can still enjoy the yard safely. Oscillot fences also deter stray cat or neighboring cats from entering your yard.
7. Spiked fences
This is a slightly harsh method of ‘how to keep your cat in the yard’ – but it definitely works to keep a cat indoors.
The plastic or metallic spikes on the fences cause discomfort to a cat’s paws and prevent it from jumping upon them.
You can also buy humane bird spike strips like this one which prevent your cat from crossing the window ledge and leaving the house.
How to Train Your Cat to Stay in the Yard
In addition to using these above 7 methods for ‘how to keep your cat in the yard’, you can also train your feline friend to remain in the yard and not leave it.
Here are two ways to train your cat to stay in the yard:
A. Teach your cat to come to you when called
- Train your cat to respond when you call its name.
- Treat it the moment it comes to you.
- You can also use a food container – shake it and get your cat to come to you.
- Reward and pet your cat when it comes to you.
- Repeat often until your cat will not leave the yard.
- Use the same tricks to entice your cat to come into the house.
B. Harness and leash training
- Invest in a high-quality escape proof cat harness and leash. Let your cat become familiar with the harness and leash – use them for a few minutes each day and slowly increase the duration.
- Allow your pet to even wear the harness indoors.
- Teach your pet to walk on the leash around the yard. Treat it and reward/praise it when it behaves (does not run and pull).
- Allow your cat to explore the yard while on leash.
- Continue the training consistently and soon your cat won’t be running away!
Why Do Cats Love to Be Outside So Much?
Yes, cats are predatory by nature and if you are training your cat to remain outdoors, you are, to an extent, denying them their fundamental right.
Here are some reasons why cats love being outdoors:
1. They need to hunt
Cats are born hunters. Their ability to hunt and trap small prey gives them the mental and physical stimulation they need.
That is one of the primary reasons why cats love being outdoors. If you see your indoor cat trying to pounce upon the bird on your window sill, then know that it is missing its need to hunt and trap small prey.
2. They crave the entertainment that being outside provides
In addition to hunting, cats also love being outdoors because they could get bored indoors.
If you are not providing them with adequate mental stimulation like toys, scratching posts, etc., then chances are that they are feeling bored and even depressed.
Being out in the yard, even for a few minutes a day, can cheer up your kitty and also give it the entertainment it needs to feel happy.
3. They are curious and intelligent animals
Cats are even more intelligent than dogs. They are also very curious creatures.
However, the old adage – curiosity killed the cat is also quite true and that is why every cat owner that allows their pets to roam must think about ways how to keep your cat in the yard.
Do all Cats Need to Be Outside to Be Happy?
Not necessarily. Yes, most cats do love being outside but if you have trained your cat to be a house cat, then it need not be outside all the time to feel happy.
However, as a responsible cat owner, you need to provide your cat with adequate mental stimulation and physical exercise.
Three Easy Ways to Keep Indoor Cats Happy
1. Provide it with physical activity indoors
Without physical exercise, your cat can become overweight or even obese. Also, it needs physical activity to stimulate those feel-good endorphins to keep it from getting depressed.
I strongly urge you to invest in a cat condo/cat tower and/or a cat treadmill wheel. These will keep your domesticated cats climbing, moving, and jumping. Cat towers also come with scratching posts which satisfy a cat’s scratching instinct.
Cat treadmills can stimulate endorphins whilst also keeping your pet fit and healthy.
2. Provide it with adequate mental stimulation through toys
3. Take it out frequently on car rides and outings
You can also take your cat out on frequent car rides in a cat carrier.
FAQs on How to Keep Your Cat in the Yard
1. Is it cruel to keep a cat indoors?
It is indeed cruel to keep a cat indoors without providing it exercise and the mental stimulation it needs.
Similarly, it is cruel to keep a cat outdoors without ensuring its safety and well-being from the weather elements, wild animal, and other unwanted cats.
You need to find a balance – create a safe and enriching environment outdoors in the yard with plants like catnip, a safe catio, and/or a cat containment system so your cat can experience sights, sounds, and smells.
2. Will my cat come back if I let it outside?
The first few times that you let your cat roam out, it is a good idea to go with it. Later on, you can allow it to explore on its own. When it comes back home – and most cats do – give it a reward like a tasty treat. This will encourage your pet to come back home always.
You can also leave the door or window open so your cat can come and go as it pleases. A cat door is also a great option.
3. How to introduce cats to the outside?
First of all, you must ensure that your pet is confident enough to go outside. Also, the first few times, you might want to accompany your pet to ensure its safety.
When you first introduce your cat to the outdoor space, make sure you set some boundaries for it
You can also teach your kitty a few recall signals so it can come when called. When it does return home when called, reward it with a delicious treat right away, so it can associate the treat with its returning.
You must also leave a door or cat flap open for your pet to return.
4. Do cats know to stay away from cars?
No. Both cats and dogs do not know to stay away from cars. However, most cats are scared of loud noises and bright lights, and resultantly might stay away from cars.
Unfortunately, many cats run into the traffic if they are scared by something – if they see a bird or are scared by a dog, and that is what causes many of the unfortunate accidental cat deaths.
That is why it is very important that you train your cat to stay away from cars. Here is a guide for training your cat to stay away from cars.
You can also neuter your pet and use reflective cat collars to enhance your pet’s visibility on the road.
5. How to prevent neighborhood cats from coming in your yard?
Cat fences, fence with spikes, and oscillot fence help deter your cat from leaving the yard and also prevent other cats from coming into your yard and garden.
Motion activated sprinkler and ultrasonic cat deterrent devices are also some humane ways of preventing a neighborhood cat into your yard.
How to keep your cat in the yard?
There are several ways to keep your cat safe in the yard. Our favorite methods include cat enclosures, catios, netted fences, oscillot fences, and playpens.
You can also train your cat to never leave the yard or leash train it.
We hope this guide keeps your cat safe in the yard.