Featured artist: Shannon Crees

Cat confinement

Featured artist: Shannon Crees
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Cat confinement

It's preferable for cats to be kept inside the house or confined in the backyard.

As long as their basic needs are being met, cats can live just as happily in confinement as when allowed to roam free.

Research shows that a cat who is allowed to roam free may have a shorter life span than that of a cat that is confined on its property.

Cats that are allowed to roam free can have a large impact on our native wildlife. Cats are opportunistic hunters, stalking and preying on many species of native wildlife and other small animals.

Disadvantages of NOT confining your cat to your property:

  • Free roaming cats are more likely to contract disease from other animals
  • Free roaming cats are more likely to be injured by vehicles
  • Free roaming cats are more likely to be injured by other cats fighting for territory
  • Free roaming cats are more likely to be attacked by dogs
  • Free roaming cats may become a victim of animal cruelty
  • Free roaming cats are more likely to be exposed to parasites, disease and poisons
  • Free roaming cats are more likely to have a negative impact on our neighbours such as digging in the garden and/or pot plants, scratching vehicles, being noisy during territorial cat fights especially at night, contributing to nuisance dog barking or our neighbours just may not want a cat entering their property. Some of this behaviour may result in legal action being taken against the cat owner.

How to confine your cat

There are several ways a cat can be safely and happily confined or semi-confined on your property.

1. Keep your cat in the house full time

If your cat has never been contained inside the house, bring him/her inside at short intervals during a quite period when not too many household members are around. Provide some treats or food as a reward. Then gradually increase the amount of time that the cat stays inside until he/she gets use to the new surroundings.

The following suggestions will help your cat become accustomed to living inside the house full time:

  • Provide some bedding near a window. Cats spend the majority of their time sleeping and they especially enjoy the sunlight.
  • Provide a litter tray in an area away from the cat's food and in an area secluded from busy household activity. Cats prefer to use their litter tray in private and away from their food and water bowls.
  • Provide some 'hidey holes'. Cats sometimes like to sleep in secluded areas and a cardboard box can provide a nice secure feeling and a quiet sleeping area .
  • Provide some stimulation while they are awake so they don't get bored. Stimulation can be provided with toys that are commercially available or home made toys such as toilet rolls, balls of aluminium foil and pegs.
  • Provide a cat scratch post(s). Cats sometimes use furniture to sharpen their claws/nails. A scratching post will help avoid damage to furniture. These are commercially available or you can make your own with wood/metal wrapped in pieces of carpet.
  • Provide indoor grasses such cat grass, cat nip and cat mint. Seeds may be purchased from some pet shops or plant nurseries. Cats like to chew on grass and it also helps with their digestion.

2.  Keep your cat in an outdoor enclosure

If you can not keep your cat(s) inside the house full time then you should consider an outdoor enclosure. These are commercially available or you may build your own. 

Victoria's Department of Primary Industries has prepared a do-it-yourself booklet to help people build their own cat enclosure or cat proof fencing. Visit this page for more information. Note: You should seek advice from your local Council with regards to planning permission requirements before building any enclosure or making adjustments to your fencing.

The following organisations also specialise in building cat enclosures:

You may also seek advice from your Veterinarian and/or search the internet for other organisations. 

3.  Install cat proof fencing

Confining your cat on your premises can be as easy as installing cat proof materials to your existing fence. This will keep your cat(s) inside your premises and just as important, may assist with keeping other cats out of your property.

The state of Victoria, Department of Primary Industries, has prepared a Do it yourself booklet to help people build their own cat enclosure or cat proof fencing. Visit this website for more information. Note: You should seek advice from your local Council with regards to planning permission requirements before building any enclosure or making adjustments to your fencing.

The following organisation specialises in cat proof materials for existing fences

You may also seek advice from your Veterinarian and/or search the internet for other organisations. 

4.  Keep your cat in the house between dusk and dawn

If you can't provide full confinement of your cat(s), then keeping him/her inside between dusk and dawn is the next best way to protect your cat and the environment. Many of our native wildlife are nocturnal and cats allowed to roam at night may hunt and prey on these species.

Encourage your cat to return to your house at dusk by regularly providing their food at this time. They will then become accustomed to returning home at this time especially when they become hungry. Then release the cat in the morning daylight hours.

Follow the above suggestions for keeping your cat indoors during this period.