Calling all creative cats!
May 4, 2010 6:37 PM   Subscribe

How can I keep our cats from jumping a 6 foot wood privacy fence? Is there a way to attractively do this? I have some ideas, but hate to waste the time and energy if the cats are going to get over anyway. Any thoughts?

Reason we need this: We have one daredevil cat without pain receptors apparently, one sweet, small cat who is giving us litter box problems and one fat cat. Fat cat is too fat and lazy to try. Problem solved if we could just force feed the other two :) Daredevil cat just got back from a three day vet stint after severly gashing his chest on something --vet thinks he ripped it going over the fence(it was really disgusting and he acted just fine?). Sweet, small cat has recently taken to eliminating in all the wrong places inside and loves being outside but I am a nervous wreck when she gets out of the yard. I want to teach her how to use the dog door to go outside to do her business.

I saw some commercial products like this one but it is pretty expensive and aesthetically unpleasing. I was thinking of getting brackets (like a plant hangers) that extend into the yard about 12 inches from the top of the fence inwards. I would place these 6-10 feet apart and place something on top of them. I was thinking evenly spaced thin wooden slats might look okay--weird, but okay. It would be sort of a 12 in lip on the top of the fence that is horizontal to the ground.


Has anyone ever done anything like this successfully? Would a 12 inch barrier at the top of the fence be deep enough so the cats can't maneuver their bodies around and over it (they seem to really have to work to get over the 6 foot fence as it is)? Could a netting of some sort over the brackets be better? Anything else I am not thinking of? Any other ideas?

PS: I do not want to build a full cat enclosure. I want them to enjoy the yard with (and like) the dogs.
posted by murrey to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe something like this?

I know its for birds, but if ya put it on the top of the fence, whats the cat gonna grab onto?
posted by Max Power at 6:43 PM on May 4, 2010

My friend actually got a product very similar to an invisible fence (and it might be Invisible Fence brand). It doesn't work for all cats but it works for hers. One is sensible and the other...well, let's just say it's divine providence that this cat is still alive. No common sense, no fear. And the electric collar works for him.

Oh, there's also this! There's a kit to add the system to an existing fence that sounds very much like what you had in mind.
posted by cooker girl at 6:52 PM on May 4, 2010

Why not a cat enclosure?

Your cats get fresh air and sunshine; they don't get run over, in fights, or lost. And your fence doesn't look like a prison yard. I've seen nice huge ones with platforms and climbing rails, you could build to suit. You could set it on the grass so they could get their paws on it. Or get really fancy and have a kitty door that opens into it from your house, so they let themselves in/out.

My cat is declawed (by previous owner), neutered, and fat, so cannot climb our fence. Here's what he does in our yard: eats grass; barfs; looks around; sniffs; miaows to come back inside.

I've had fitter outdoor cats in a fenced yard before, and I'm not convinced there's any way to keep them in a yard short of an enclosure or a leash. They're likely to find a way around your fancy fence-attachments.
posted by emjaybee at 6:58 PM on May 4, 2010

I actually rigged pretty much exactly the same thing with plant hangers, zip ties, 1" pvc pipe, and that green plastic mesh construction/deer fencing. This was to stop a fence-climbing doberbeagle rather than a cat, but because the plant hanger + fencing contraption is at about a 45-degree angle, it's hard to get on top of, especially since it's kind of saggy.

It did what I wanted it to do; after the 50th time she bounced/fell off, she stopped trying. Cats are more unpredictable and don't weigh 50 lbs, but Sophie was a fence-climbing machine and it did work. For a cat, I might consider adding additional discouragers (bells? something that rattles alarmingly?), but I think we did the whole thing in an afternoon for well under $100. It's not the most attractive thing in the world, but we used hedge clippers to cut the PVC off so you can't see it from the alley, and taking the idiot dog out on a leash at all hours of the day and night wasn't working, so we deal with it catching leaves and crap.

An enclosure would be how I would go if I ever had cats again, but I think this scheme is worth a try if that's not an option.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:29 PM on May 4, 2010

Watch this youtube vid for an example of just how good cats are at climbing and jumping. I would imagine anything on top of the fence would just be a convenient landing spot from any point higher that it could get to.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 7:52 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I make no representation of whether this is safe or even kind, but just throw it out as information. My aunt used to put her cat out in her fenced backyard on a long cord, tied to a brick. The weight of the brick made it impossible for the cat to climb/jump the fence. Of course, this doesn't solve the problem of wanting the cat to put itself out as needed.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 7:58 PM on May 4, 2010

Best answer: Here is a system that actually works: install a horizontal round wooden pole on top of your fence and make sure it rotates freely around the horizontal axis. The cat jumps on it, the pole rotates, the cat falls back down.

Disclamer: it's not my idea - I saw an ad at my vet's here in the UK. YMMV.
posted by Parsnip at 7:58 PM on May 4, 2010

Assuming you don't mind them being on the other side of the fence why don't you make it possible for them to go through by cutting a doggie door or something similar? Of course the fence may be made of brick in which case I recognize the idiocy of the idea.
posted by firstdrop at 8:19 PM on May 4, 2010

Honestly, I'd cut a discrete hole in the fence (if you own it) so they can traverse it without injuring themselves, and let cats be cats.

It's not clear from the original post what danger lurks on the other side of the fence. In the absence of further information, my intuition is that trying to cat-proof the fence is not the best solution.
posted by kprincehouse at 8:45 PM on May 4, 2010

Honestly, I'd cut a discrete hole in the fence (if you own it) so they can traverse it without injuring themselves, and let cats be cats.

I'd think the downside of this would be that other cats would come into your yard too. Or here in Texas, skunks, raccoons, and possums (they looove cat food, garbage, and scaring the crap out of you at 2am).
posted by emjaybee at 9:08 PM on May 4, 2010

A site that I lost track of a long time ago had details about building a system that looked fairly promising. In short, they took 6" PVC pipe, sliced it in half lengthwise (so that you have long "C" shaped pieces), and attached these pieces lengthwise just inside the top of the fence.

The net result was that the inside of the fence, all of the way around, was "lined" on top by a 6" PVC "bumper". Since they can't dig their claws into the PVC, and since there was no level "top" surface of the PVC (since it was just a half-piece) attempts to jump onto it or climb onto it would result in them falling back down into the yard. Supposedly, it was fairly effective.

The downside is that you'd need a way to cut a lot of PVC (half the linear length of your fence), and you'd need to find a way to fasten it, but it could work. You'd also have to insure that there was nothing else they could climb onto and jump over the fence from (overhanging trees, etc.)
posted by nonliteral at 9:13 PM on May 4, 2010

I think that parsnip has the right idea. Maybe a 4" wooden dowel?
posted by saradarlin at 9:15 PM on May 4, 2010

I'd string a thin wire or two (or three) a couple of inches away from the top of the fence on the inside. Fairly cheap, fairly invisible, and it adds a reasonably difficult barrier to climbing or jumping cats.
posted by anadem at 9:19 PM on May 4, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the answers! I was wondering if this idea was just too absurd to get serious replies :) I think Parsnip (thx to his vet in the UK) is on to something. I am trying to keep them in the yard altogether so the fence cut out isn't the answer. Now, how to get a spinning dowel run to work....hmmmm.
posted by murrey at 4:24 AM on May 5, 2010

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