Allowing cats outdoors to roam seems like a kind, humane act in order to allow them to explore. Domesticated cats who spend their lives indoors are not equipped with the instincts to recognize danger. Cats who spend a part of their lives out of doors have shorter lives and are exposed to hazards such as poisons, moving cars and other animals while cats who spend their entire lives indoors are not exposed to these dangers.
Cat owners who know the risks of allowing their cats to roam can build an outdoor cat enclosure that gives the best of both worlds to both cats and owners. The main goal in building a cat enclosure is to allow cats to be able to roam and play outdoors without running the risk of getting into the street or in a fight with another neighborhood feline. Before building or installing a cat enclosure, owners need to "cat proof" their yard, looking for and removing any items that could pose a hazard. These include poisonous plants or sharp objects such as tools.
The aim of building an outdoor cat enclosure is to allow the cat safe outdoors access so he can enjoy an environment that is natural for him. His owners should build the enclosure so that their cat won't be injured by a protruding screw, splinters or sharp wires. If they incorporate a tree, grassy area or tree stump as part of the enclosure's environment, the cat should not be able to wriggle out of the enclosure through any holes left behind during construction. Escape from under the cat enclosure also should be sealed off. Pouring concrete before erecting the framework and sinking the wire mesh into the ground will help.
The outdoor systems do not have to be expensive to build or maintain. They can be as simple as mesh wire, wood, cat perches with carpet or as ornate as a gazebo with poultry netting. A cat walk, which allows the cat to roam from an upstairs window, can be included in order to allow the cat easier access to the enclosure and to give additional "play value" for the cat. He will want to be entertained while he is outdoors, so his owners will need to incorporate areas that allow interaction with small birds. These include bird baths, bird feeders and fish ponds that will allow the cat freedom to use his instincts as he tries to catch the fish or birds.
Since cats are independent, their owners need to ensure easy access to the enclosure. Adding a cat flap to the door or window that is attached to the enclosure gives the cats freedom to go in and out without requiring their owner to open and close the door every time they want to go out or come in. When the owner is deciding where the enclosure will be built, he needs to take weather (wind, rain/snow and sun) into account. Since cats are accomplished jumpers, he also needs to close in the top of the enclosure so his cats will not defeat the purpose of the enclosure by leaving and roaming. He can accomplish this by securing heavy mesh or clear heavy plastic to the top of the enclosure.