Making the Outdoors, Indoors

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Cats love the great outdoors. Unfortunately, the outdoors doesn’t always love them back. With so many potential threats out there — from automobiles to parasites and diseases to vicious animal (or human) attacks — allowing your cat to roam free isn’t smart or safe in today’s world. You can, however, bring a little of the outdoors, indoors, by purchasing or building a screened enclosure for your cat.



From a small window box to a state-of-the-art screened-in porch, the possibilities are endless. The type of structure you want will depend on how much space you have available, what you can spend, how handy you are at building things, and your legal responsibilities. If you’re renting, you must always ask your landlord before making ANY changes. And homeowners must check local building ordinance laws before adding to your home or property.



If space and money are obstacles, consider a window box — which you can either build or buy. These are about the size of a window air conditioner, and work well for apartment dwellers. The frame is usually an acrylic material, spanned with claw-proof screen and/or Plexiglas for kitty’s panoramic view. The most important part of installing such an enclosure is to make sure it is 100 percent secure. It must be able to withstand the weight of several cats without collapsing, and survive buffeting from the outdoor elements.



If you have a front or back yard, consider building or buying a structure you and your cat(s) can use, such as a screened porch or patio. Using claw-proof screen will ensure that your cat can’t get out and other animals can’t get in. This screen is made of polyester (instead of aluminum, which animal claws can tear easily), with a nylon or vinyl coating. Cats can actually climb it without doing any damage.



Supervision of time spent in the enclosure should be a priority, too — especially in extreme weather and temperature conditions. Make sure your cat has access to a litter box, water, shelter, and shade. You should include a floor in the enclosure — instead of placing it directly on the ground — so digging in or out is impossible. A floor also helps keep fleas and ticks out of your enclosure, and prevents kitty accidentally eating plants or grass that have been poisoned with run-off fertilizer or pesticides. Lush plants and grass in pots on your porch will provide the jungle environment your cat craves without any of the risk.



Just to be on the safe side, kitty should be current on vaccinations as well as treated with a parasite preventive. By bringing the outdoors inside, you can help keep your cat safe and happy — whether enjoying gentle summer breezes or observing autumn birds migrating.

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