How do I keep my cat from wandering too far?
October 28, 2005 11:10 PM   Subscribe

I moved out of a shared house into an apartment, everything is great except for my cat. He was an indoor/outdoor cat (we had a doggie door), but now I live in the city, and he can't run free. I'm looking for some way to keep him in close proximity of my apartment should he jump down from the balcony like he did today.

Now, my cat's main activity during the day while I'm at work and my S/O is writing is sitting on the balcony, watching people. He's learned that he won't die if he jumps off the balcony, but he isnt exactly excited about doing it either...

I'm hoping that there is some type of collar/device that will make a sound when he gets out of range... similar to the underground fence idea, but with one central point, since I cant bury the cable anywhere...

All that I've found are "cat repellant" devices and dog training (shock) collars. I'd like something where I don't have to push a button to sound the alert, so that he doesn't wander off too far if he jumps down again...
posted by hatsix to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I assume there's a fence around the balcony? There's baby safety stuff sold to prevent kids from going out between the slats (if that's how your cat's jumping out).

If he's jumping off the top railing, wouldn't something up there, that he doesn't like, work? Something sticky or unpleasant to his feet?

Sounds as if you'd like to give you cat some freedom to roam while staying safe, I'm not familiar with anything that would do that so just thought I'd throw those other ideas out.
posted by LadyBonita at 12:23 AM on October 29, 2005

Cats are wonderful, but they are not that smart.

A friend's cat basically had this same setup, and it repeatedly jumped off the balcony, and eventually got hit by a car.

My advice is this: DON'T LET AN ANIMAL THAT YOU CARE ABOUT GET INTO HARM'S WAY. A cat has no judgment abilities. If you care about the cat, don't let it outside.
posted by interrobang at 1:03 AM on October 29, 2005

I should add to that:

The cat I knew who jumped off the balcony was smeared all over the street, but survived. Some nice person found it and took it to a cat hospital. Its tail was gone, and so was one of its legs.

After it came back from the vet, the cat licked and licked and licked at the wounds, even after they were healed. It had no tail, and was missing one of its hind legs. It was given tons of love, but after a month had to be euthanized.

Cats are clever, but they are not intelligent. You cannot count on a cat knowing not to jump off of a balcony, or run into the street. Your best bet is to keep the cat indoors, where domesticated animals belong.
posted by interrobang at 1:11 AM on October 29, 2005

Your cat will get used to being restricted to the apartment. Now, fence in your balcony. I've seen it done very inconspicuously and non-permanently with some nylon mesh and 3/4 x 1-1/2" cedar strips.
posted by Pseudonumb at 1:25 AM on October 29, 2005

I've noticed that cats need to be right up against the wall/fence they are about to jump up on. Is there a section of the balcony wall where he can still people watch and not be able to jump down?
If there is, then position some plants all around the wall base except where you want him to be able to jump up on, preventing him from gaining a good jumping position. Alternatively, you could fix window boxes around the top of the balcony with plants hanging over. He won't jump up if he hasn't got a solid surface to land on. You could contain him to a particular area with obstacles on top of the balcony.

If there is no safe place on the balcony then build him a platform that he can still people watch from and set it back from the balcony wall.

Tough problem tho. Only real solution is don't allow access to the balcony unless he's with someone.
posted by desert_roamer at 5:06 AM on October 29, 2005

My advice is this: DON'T LET AN ANIMAL THAT YOU CARE ABOUT GET INTO HARM'S WAY. A cat has no judgment abilities. If you care about the cat, don't let it outside.

I just want to second that. If you let the cat get out, he will eventually disappear and you'll be left to imagine what happened to him. Just let him adjust to his new life as Indoor Cat.
posted by languagehat at 6:33 AM on October 29, 2005

You can a kitty outdoor containment unit like this. They also have sliding door kitty-doors that you can attach it to.
posted by necessitas at 9:04 AM on October 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

You can also put on a harness and long leash and take him outside to explore. I put my (indoor only) kitty on a leash once and it was hilarious watching him roll around in the dirt and attack flies. He seemed to have a lot of fun.
posted by radioamy at 12:04 AM on November 1, 2005

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