Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My 5-year-old neutered male, Bofus, is very sociable and loves to visit neighbors. One in particular is very angry with my cat because he crawls up the screens to try to get inside her house. I have paid to repair the screens but what can I do to keep him from destroying more screens? Keeping him as “inside only” is impossible because I have multiple dogs and cats and kids that go in and out. What product do you suggest to deter his mischief?
Siouxsie: Ordinarily, we advise that cats stay indoors only. But we understand that in some situations, such as yours, that’s next to impossible. But don’t despair: there are some things you can do to keep Bofus in your yard and away from your neighbor’s window screens.
Thomas: We’d recommend that you buy or build an outdoor enclosure. An enclosure will allow Bofus the benefits of outdoor excursions without bothering your neighbors or exposing him to the risk of disease, injury, predators, or getting lost.
Dahlia: If you want Bofus to have a huge area to run and play, consider buying a fence system that will allow you to make an enclosure of any size you want. If you already have a fence around your yard, you can buy a fence-top system that will keep your cats from being able to climb over the fence and out.
Siouxsie: The Purr-Fect Fence is one such system. It’s not cheap: it costs about $995 US for a 100-linear-foot free-standing enclosure (this would make a 10-foot by 10-foot 25-foot by 25-foot area) or $295 US for 100 linear feet of fence toppers for existing fences. If you have a tall fence, the toppers can be installed inside that fence and not cause any aesthetic problems for your neighbors.
Thomas: You can also buy free-standing wood-and-fence enclosures in a variety of sizes, like this one from C&D Pet Products, or customizable kits with an array of possible add-on features like these from Habitat Haven. Free-standing enclosures can cost anywhere from $295 US to well over $1,000 US, depending on how elaborate you want them to be.
Dahlia: A less expensive and equally good option, if you or someone you know has DIY skills, is to build your own cat enclosure. Just4Cats offers a guide with 65 different enclosure designs, complete with material requirements.
Siouxsie: Karen Horn of Cat and Caboodle has provided free instructions for building a cat enclosure that costs about $140 US plus tools, which you can find at her website.
Thomas: Another thing you can do to help reduce the damages Bofus causes is to trim his claws regularly. If you get rid of the sharp little dagger tips on the ends of the claws, he won’t be able to destroy window screens as easily. If you haven’t trimmed a cat’s claws before, Partners in Animal Health (from Cornell’s veterinary school) has an excellent video demonstration here.
Dahlia: You could try putting nail caps on Bofus, too, but some cats don’t like them and manage to remove them after a few days. Here’s a video demonstration on applying nail caps.
Siouxsie: Considering your situation, you’ll probably find the Purr-Fect Fence or a similar product to be your easiest choice. If you use this (or perhaps create something like this), you’ll be able to open the door to your back yard and you won’t have to worry about the cats escaping between your feet. Good luck, Liz!
Thomas: And don’t forget — we’re still raising money for Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary in St. Pauls, North Carolina! We’re working toward a goal of $5,000, enough to provide for six months of care for all the kitties living at BCR. If everyone who reads this column gives just one dollar, we could meet — and probably even exceed — our goal! Either donate through the widget on the Paws and Effect website or visit our FirstGiving page.
Dahlia: And we send a big purr to everyone who’s already donated. Thank you!
I love the idea of having a safe outdoor enclosure that the kitties can use without needing their human parents to give them access. Yes, expense is always a factor, but when you consider that the cost is probably about equal to that of one vet bill if your cat gets attacked by something, eats poison, gets hit by a car, etc. it seems like a worthwhile investment.
Thanks for mentioning our products. I would like to mention that 100 linear feet would make a 25′ by 25′ enclosure. Also, if you use the back of your house as a side you can make it 33′ by 33′ or any other combination where the 3 sides add up to 100. You can also combine kits to make larger enclosures. Our systems are also on sale this month.
Hi, Matt. Thanks for the correction. Mama says she was having a “bad math day” — she’s used to thinking in square feet, not linear feet. It’s so hard to find good help these days …
Liz- I have had same problems with screens in my own home. I finally started getting them re-screened with a heavier gauge, tighter weave screen. Started doing that a couple of years ago and it is working. My local glass replacement store has this service. Lot better than having to buy a whole new screen with frame.