The Cat Enclosure Dilema

As responsible cat owners, we will build a cat enclosure before we allow the cats outside.  Our intention was to have this enclosure built before we moved in, but the existring fence structure was not strong enough to support the cat netting we need to secure to it.  The new fencing materials are due to arrive this week,  so with a bit of luck we can get the enclosure built over the next week or so.  Unfortunately, the delay in building the enclosure has posed us with a real habitat dilema. Our fenced yard is the playground for a delightful family of Superb Fairy Wrens, and a food source for the Red Wattle Bird.

Lattice Fence to be replaced.
This part of the lattice fence is not strong and has to be replaced. The wrens love to sit in the relative safety of the climbing rose.

The lattice fence, which needs to be removed, has a climbing rose intertwined through the lattice.  The wrens appear to live in the dense part of the rose, and they spend most of their day hopping around the yard looking for food or singing from the top of the gate, or the weeping cherry. Every time I see them my spirits are lifted and I have been known to laugh out loud at their antics.  The female wren will often cling to the fly wire on the window to peer into the kitchen.  This usually happens when I am preparing food on the other side of the glass. Over the past two months, I have grown so fond of these birds that I don’t want to shut them out of their home.  I want to see them every day.   The reality is that the cats also need their space.  They are becoming a little stir crazy, and are beginning to miaow at the door to go outside.  In our former house, they had an outside enclosure, and they love sitting outside in the sun.  So unless we come up with a brilliant solution, the wrens will need to move to the other side of the new fence.  I know they will survive and we can plant new bushy habitat, but they won’t be at my kitchen window for much longer, and I will miss seeing them hopping along the window ledge and the gate.

Female Superb Fairy Wren
The female Superb Fairy Wren singing from the top of the gate.
Male Superb Fairy Wren
The bright blue feathers of the male Superb Fairy Wren glint in the sunlight as he hops about the yard looking for food.

These tiny birds can actually sit inside the squares created by the lattice. We do plan to leave one section of the latice intact as this section is strong, and it allows a view of our driveway from the kitchen window – useful when we’re expecting visitors and good for security.  However,  it would greatly upset me to find a handful of feathers on the ground when the cats occupy the space.   The dilema is that shutting the wrens out of the space by putting cat netting over the lattice that remains still won’t make them safe.  Recently we discovered two stray cats  (or perhaps cats belonging to one of our neighbours) on the decking which surrounds our house. They have been there two nights in a row now.  While we can contain our own cats, it is more difficult to keep stray cats away.  We will continue to weigh up the pros and cons of  putting cat netting over the lattice to stop the birds flying into the cat enclosure, or leaving it bare  to allow them access to the yard at their own peril. This is a decision for another day.  Step one is to get the new fence built.   Suggestions welcome on this one.

5 thoughts on “The Cat Enclosure Dilema

  1. Seeing that we’re both in Aussie, I’ll share my cat enclosure story with you. We live on a postage stamp – 463 square metres – but our neighbours are very close, one in particular is less than a metre away (old houses!). OUr backyard is densely vegetated but we’ve managed to secure it with netting that is attached to the perimeter of the fence and sits at 45 degrees to the fence. The contractor who did the job for us used to work for Catmax and is an expert. It wasn’t cheap, but it works and I would do it again in a heartbeat. We are thrilled with the outcome: our three cats (all Siamese, the ultimate escape artists) can’t get out and marauding cats in the neighbourhood can’t get in. It’s given us peace of mind and the cats can still get outside time. The best of both worlds. Contact me if you want more info.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, we had Catmax in our old house and we were also very happy with it. You are right – it is very expensive but it does work. We have two Siamese cats, and I love the way they are so methodical in exploring new territory, so if there is a gap, you just know they will find it. My cats used to climby up and down the Catmax walls, and it never stretched and never broke. Excellent product.

      In our new house there is quite a bit of yard to cover, but the netting only has to go over the top of the fences, not all the way up, as before. We were able to bring the Catmax with us, but have bought Secure A Cat netting to make up the shortfall. It is a lot cheaper, and looks strong. We think it will be fine for the roofing part, and will use the Catmax we bought with us for any gaps in fences and the fernery walls. It should be a good combination, I think.

      I’ll have a post on this soon. We just started to work on the cat enclosure last weekend. More to do, but it is beginning to happen.

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