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10+ Tips To Create The Perfect Cat Proof Balcony
You live in an apartment but still want to give your cat access to the outdoors? Safety is key! Learn how to create a cat proof balcony in this post.
Fresh air and sunshine make your apartment or condo balcony a perfect spot for your cat to watch the world go by. But before giving your kitty access to your apartment or condo balcony, it is essential that you make this a safe place for your cat – with a few special touches for comfort, of course.
Most housecats are content to remain indoors for much of the day. But giving your cat safe access to the outdoors can provide stimulation that indoor spaces can’t: the wind in their fur, smells wafting from a nearby restaurant, and a ray of sunshine to bask in. And once your apartment or condo balcony is cat-proofed, you and your cat can spend relaxing moments together on the safe balcony.
Table of contents
- What is important to consider when cat proofing your balcony
- Making the space safe
- Sealing off the balcony
- Make the balcony cozy for cats
- More ideas for keeping your cat safe on the balcony
- What if I can’t cat proof my balcony – can I still bring my cat outside?
- Common safe cat balcony questions:
- Help your cat live their best balcony life
What is important to consider when cat proofing your balcony
Your outdoor balcony can be a respite from work and chores inside your home. And who better to enjoy it with than your furry friend?
Before you allow your cat onto the balcony of your apartment or condo, look at your balcony space with fresh eyes – the eyes of a cat, in particular.
If you were a cat, would you be able to leap onto the railing and walk it like a tightrope? Or squeeze through the railing?
If the answer is yes to either of these questions, you will need to modify your balcony before allowing kitty outside. But first, think about a few issues that could affect the end result.
Are there any tenant restrictions you should be aware of?
Does your building allow pets? It’s best to get this squared away before you begin cat proofing the balcony. If your cat starts hanging out on your newly-modified balcony, the neighbors are sure to see your little furball basking in some rays and the building management may be alerted. Check your rental agreement or Home Owners’ Association (HOA) literature to see if pets are allowed.
Also check if there are restrictions on what can be left out on your balcony and if any temporary alterations, such as adding balcony netting, are permitted.
Will the cat proofing changes be permanent?
Before you approach the HOA or your landlord, try to have a rough idea of the modifications you are proposing. Are you actually building a barrier, attaching materials to the walls, or altering the railing with hardware? If so, these could be considered permanent changes and may not be allowed by your building’s management. On the other hand, attaching some clear plexiglass panels or cat netting with heavy duty cable ties might be OK.
If you find out that modifying your balcony is not permitted in your building, it’s still possible to get your kitty outside safely – more on that later.
Making the space safe
Safety is number one when planning your cat-proof balcony. No one wants to consider the devastating results if your cat slips and falls while perched on the balcony railing or leaps out after a flitting bird.
Clean up the balcony in advance of cat proofing to create a “blank slate” as a starting point for cat proofing your balcony. Now you can reimagine the balcony and make it just right for you and your cat to enjoy together.
Remove plants toxic for cats
Start by removing any poisonous plants from your balcony that could be toxic to your cat. This includes lilies, tomato plants, poinsettias, aloe vera, peace lilies, and many common houseplants. Learn which plants are poisonous to cats and avoid keeping them in your apartment, your condo, or on the balcony.
If you really want to have plants in your balcony space, consider hanging plants which can be placed where your cat cannot reach them.
Remove bug repellents and torches
If you’ve been using the balcony as a hangout for you and your family or friends, you probably have some insect repellants, citronella candles, or torches to keep the bugs away. Remove all of these items from the balcony, as they can be dangerous for your cat.
Close off or move garbage and unnecessary furniture
It’s time to get rid of all the stuff you stuck out on the balcony because you didn’t know where else to put it. Figure out if you should repurpose it, give it away, or toss it. If you keep your household trash bin on the balcony, think of a new place to store it. You don’t want your sweet kitty messing around in the garbage can, or tangling with the creatures that are attracted to your garbage.
Sealing off the balcony
The first step in making your balcony safe for your cat is to make it impossible for your cat to exit the balcony (other than going back into the apartment or condo through the doorway). You can make the balcony safe by sealing it off with cat netting, plexiglass panels, fencing, or mesh panels.
Know everywhere your cat goes
See where they are in real-time, no matter how far they go. Get alerts if they roam too far home. Find out where they’ve been and discover their favorite spots. Let others track with you.
Cat balcony netting
Is there a roof over the balcony? (This might not be an actual roof, but it could be the underside of your upstairs neighbor’s balcony.) If so, you can hang lightweight waterproof netting on overhead hooks and allow it drape down into your balcony space to create a cat enclosure. Attach the netting with heavy duty cable ties to your own balcony railing. To be extra safe, attach the lower edge of the cat netting all along the base of the railing. This will keep your cat from ducking underneath and slipping through the rails. Voila, you have a cat-proof balcony!
Even though the balcony netting is soft, cats will perceive it as a barrier and most likely not attempt to get though the netting or jump on it. Cats generally avoid unstable surfaces like this.
The benefit of balcony netting is that it’s inexpensive and easy to install with cable ties. The breeze passes through the netting, and you and your cat can still take in the view. Black netting will be less visible than other color options, both for you as you look outward, and for the neighbors as they view your balcony from the outside.
If your balcony is enclosed by a railing rather than a solid wall, you can attach clear plexiglass panels to the railing with heavy duty cable ties to prevent your cat from squeezing through the uprights. Have the panels cut to fit the railing sections and drill holes in the corners so you can attach the panels with cable ties. You might want to make the panels extend taller than the railing to make it less likely that your cat will try to leap up and perch on the railing. Plexiglass comes in a variety of thicknesses. Choose a thickness that will remain rigid after being installed. If the plexiglass is too thin, it may bow or sag and create possible escape routes for your cat.
Bamboo or reed fence
Another option for covering a balcony railing is bamboo or reed fencing. You can purchase rolls of this material at home improvement stores. Just take the fencing home, unroll it, and attach it to your balcony railing with heavy duty cable ties. One downside of this material is that it can degrade in the weather, so it’s important to inspect it frequently for decay.
Cat railing guard
Commercially-available cloth or plastic mesh netting can be attached to your apartment balcony railing to create a safety net for your cat. This mesh material comes in rolls and is often used to baby proof stairway railings in homes.
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Make the balcony cozy for cats
Once you have the balcony safe and sealed off, it’s time to add the finishing touches to create the perfect hangout for you and your feline friend.
Plants can make your balcony inviting and attractive. Be sure to select cat-friendly plants that are not poisonous to cats. Safe options include spider plants, African violets, marigolds, polka dot plants, and bird’s nest ferns. Many of these plants are tropical, so they can only survive outdoors in warm weather.
You may need to bring them indoors before the frost arrives in the fall, so make sure you’ll have plenty of room for them inside your apartment or condo. Check the plant’s tag to see if the plants require sun, shade, or a mixture of both.
Indulge your cat’s urge to chew on greenery by planting lawn grass in a shallow pot to keep on your balcony. Buy a bit of grass seed, sprinkle it on the soil, and water regularly. Drape a lightweight cloth over the pot until the seeds sprout, so your cat won’t use it as a litter box. Soon your kitty will have an endless supply of greenery for nibbling. Lawn grass is generally safe for cats to eat, and it may help with digestion. Sometimes, eating grass can cause cats to vomit indigestible material, so keep your cat on the balcony for a while after their grass snack to make for easier cleanup.
Read More: Why Do Cats Eat Grass And How Does It Affect Them?
Place comfortable cushions on the furniture or the floor of the balcony so your kitty will have a luxurious place to rest. Give your cat options by placing cushions in both sunny and shady areas of your balcony. Keep in mind that no matter where you place the cushions, your cat is almost guaranteed to select your favorite chair as their number one snoozing spot.
Cover the floor of your balcony with an outdoor rug. This will add to the ambiance while giving your cat even more comfy sleeping spots to choose from. Outdoor rugs are easy to clean and dry quickly after a rain.
If your balcony is large enough, add an elevated perch for your cat, such as a cat condo. Avoid carpeted options, as they could get wet and become mildewed. Be sure to keep the cat condo far from the balcony railing so your cat doesn’t use the perch as a launching pad.
If your cat spends several hours each day on the balcony, consider tucking a litter box into the corner. This will help to avoid accidents if kitty wants to go inside but you have fallen asleep while reading your book on the balcony.
Food and water bowls
Sunbathing can really work up an appetite in your cat, so keep some kibble and fresh water in bowls on the balcony. Change the water in the bowl daily.
More ideas for keeping your cat safe on the balcony
There’s a lot to consider as you prepare your apartment or condo balcony for your cat to enjoy. Here are a few more tips to keep your cat safe.
Keep tall furniture away from the railing
You will probably include a small table and few chairs on the balcony so you can have lunch or your morning coffee outside. Make sure that this furniture sits back from the balcony railing, even if your balcony is cat-proofed. Avoid giving your cat any opportunity to test their jumping prowess.
Don’t let your cat onto the balcony unsupervised
There’s always a chance, however remote, for your kitty to escape from your cat-proofed balcony. To be on the safe side, never let your cat onto the balcony alone and unsupervised. Always go onto the balcony with your cat. As a bonus this lets you enjoy more quality time with your furry friend and you get some relaxation, too.
Remove bird feeders and wind chimes
Wind chimes, twirly decorations, and bird feeders may add a bit of interest to your balcony, but these can be too tempting for your cat. Your cat may not be able to resist the urge to lunge at these items. Depending where they are placed, this could pose a danger to your cat. It may be best to keep these items off the balcony altogether.
What if I can’t cat proof my balcony – can I still bring my cat outside?
If your HOA or rental agreement does not allow you to modify your apartment or condo balcony in any way (or you are not the DIY type), don’t give up. There are still options for getting your kitty outside onto the balcony.
Use a dog crate
If you can’t seal off or cat proof your balcony, place a large wire dog crate on the balcony. Carry your cat securely out of the apartment or condo and put them directly in the crate and latch the door.
Lay a few cushions or a small rug in the crate along with some food and water. Position the crate so it’s half in the sun and half in the shade. If your balcony is fully in the sun, hang a towel partially over the top of the crate to create some shade. Add a water bowl and some kibble, and your kitty can now safely enjoy the outdoors.
Build a small catio
Take the dog crate concept one step further and build a small catio on your balcony. A catio is a free-standing, enclosed outdoor structure, similar to a mini screened porch. Consider placing a catio on your apartment or condo balcony for a fully secure and safe cat enclosure. You can buy a catio kit, design and build your own, or purchase a pre-made catio that fits your balcony space.
Make the catio comfy for your cat with food, water, cushions, a litter box, and outdoor rugs. Unlike any permanent cat proofing alterations made to your balcony, a catio can be disassembled and brought to your next home if you decide to move.
Catio: What makes the perfect outdoor enclosure for your cat
Common safe cat balcony questions:
Is it safe to let cats on balconies?
Apartment or condo balconies pose a danger to cats unless these spaces are properly cat proofed and made completely safe. A cat could fall from a balcony with open railings. It’s best to cat proof your balcony if you plan to allow your cat to spend time there.
Balcony netting, plexiglass panels, mesh cloth, or bamboo fencing can be securely attached to the balcony railing using heavy duty cable ties. These simple, low-cost modifications can help to prevent a cat from slipping through the railing uprights. Always supervise your cat while they are on the balcony.
It’s worth the time and effort to cat proof your apartment or condo balcony. The sunshine, breezes, and outdoor sounds will create a safe and stimulating environment for your kitty. They may never want to leave!
Will cats jump off a balcony?
Cats are incredibly lithe and athletic, but they cannot overcome gravity. Cats do not always land on their feet, especially after falling from a great height. And they do not have nine lives. So yes, cats can and do fall from balconies. Whether they leap at a passing butterfly or lose their footing while perched on the railing, the result is the same – severe injury or even death.
As a pet parent, you are responsible for your cat’s health and safety. Cat proof your apartment or condo balcony and so your cat can safely enjoy this space.
How to prevent cats from slipping through the railing?
You have many options for preventing your cat from slipping through your apartment balcony railing. Netting is the simplest option. Be sure to attach it securely above and below the railing. Plexiglass panels will work while providing an unobstructed view. Do some research and make your cat-proofed balcony a safe and welcoming space where you and your cat can spend quality time together.
Help your cat live their best balcony life
Ahhh, balcony life – gentle breezes, chirping birds, and napping in the warm sunshine. What more could an apartment cat want? You can provide this experience to your feline friend by making your apartment or condo balcony safe for your cat.
All it takes is a trip to the hardware store and a few hours of your time. Use your creativity to safely decorate your cat-proofed balcony to your kitty’s liking. Pour your cat a bowl of water, open a beverage for yourself, and put your feet up. Enjoy this special time together on your cat-proofed balcony!
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