By Lizette Salmon, Gardens for Wildlife Albury-Wodonga
To be purrfectly honest I’ve always been more of a dog person, but having recently visited a dozen cat enclosures, I’m feeling the fuzzies for cats. But first things first. What’s a cat enclosure? Many people think it’s a cage for transporting cats. Wrong. Cat enclosures are outdoor areas for containing cats, keeping them safe from cars and attacks from other animals. Enclosures stop them roaming, killing wildlife and being a nuisance to neighbours, while letting them feel the sun on their skin and the breeze on their face.
Also known as catios, cat courtyards and cat castles, they come in a huge diversity of shapes, sizes and materials. Most are attached to part of the house, some are standalone, some mobile and those with an electrical wire are practically invisible. There are systems to suit renters and those on a budget. You can spend anywhere from $100 to $3000 or more. If you’re savvy you can source materials second-hand. I met one couple who moved home four times, creating a different cat enclosure every time with the same inexpensive roll of cat net bought initially.
The one commonality between catios is they give their owners peace of mind and reduced vet bills. There’s much evidence to show that contained cats live two to five times longer than those allowed to roam.
Contrary to popular belief, cats will hunt wildlife whether they’re hungry or not. Recent analysis by CSIRO concluded that on average, each roaming pet cat kills a staggering 186 reptiles, birds and mammals per year, mostly natives. Another study found that of the cats whom owners believed were inside, almost 40 percent were sneaking out for nocturnal adventures.
For ideas on enclosures, check out the Gardens for Wildlife Facebook page, where in August and early September we’re featuring a series of catio stories and photos (facebook.com/G4WAW ). There’s also a useful summary on the Wodonga Urban Landcare Network website, in the ‘resources’ section (wodongalandcare.org.au). We’re working on a video too, so please keep an eye out for that.
Not all of you have cats, but if you have family, friends and neighbours who do, please pass on this information. Let’s share the warm and fuzzies.
Sincere thanks to Wodonga and Albury Councils for supporting our Safe Cats Happy Wildlife initiative.