There are few things a cat owner fears more than their cat not returning home. Cats are inherently curious creatures. They love to explore their surroundings, so when given the opportunity to go outside, there will always be a possibility of them going beyond your backyard.
While some people believe that letting your cat explore outside your property is okay there are many dangers that face a cat outdoors. Potential risks include being stolen, getting lost, getting hit by a car, poisoning, getting into fights with dogs or other cats, and possible exposure to diseases and parasites.
One of a cat’s favorite means to escape the confines of your backyard is by jumping and getting over your fence.
In this article we will learn why cats jump over your fence, as well as ways on how to keep your cat from jumping over the fence. So, if you are having this problem, keep reading.
Why does my cat jump over the fence?
Before we discuss how to prevent this behavior from your cat, let us first discuss the reasoning behind it and what compels them to keep doing it.
Cats are natural explorers and always inquisitive.
Even indoor cats, despite living most of their lives inside your house, will want to be left to their own devices when in exploration mode. They do not recognize fences as boundaries the same way humans do, so them jumping over it is as casual for them as walking through a doorway is for us.
Cats instinctively want to hunt.
Though modern domesticated pet cats are fed well and provided with all of their basic needs and more, their impulse to stalk and chase rodents and birds is still intact. If the rodent or bird they are chasing goes over the fence, your cat will not hesitate to do the same.
Cats’ mating instincts
Unfixed male cats will be susceptible to searching for a nearby female in heat. This is their animalistic nature that will be difficult to rein in, especially for an outdoor cat.
How do I keep my cat from climbing over the fence?
There are several approaches a cat owner can take to keep a cat from climbing and getting over the fence:
1. Building a higher fence.
A factor you have to consider is how far and high cats can actually jump. Cats can jump five to six feet high, so if your fence is lower than that, contemplate adding one or two more feet of fencing.
2. Build a cat run.
Create an outdoor cat run that connects to the inside of your house. This way, your cat can leave the confines of your house and get to explore the outside while he navigates the fun little maze of an enclosure you built for them. This allows them to get their daily exercise and ability to explore the backyard, but it keeps them from leaving your property, which is what you want.
3. Anti-cat spikes
You may think that this is a cruel thing to install, but actually, the spikes themselves are blunted at the tip. So, they will not hurt your kitty’s feet, but they will be awkward and uncomfortable to walk or perch on, discouraging your cat from climbing onto them. On a lower fence, they may become unusable, so make sure your fence is high enough in the first place.
4. Metal fence
This may be a more expensive solution, but it is effective since cats cannot have a strong grip on a metal fence. Even if they can jump to reach the top, the cat won’t be able to get enough traction on the smooth surface to get itself over to the other side.
5. Roller bars
Install these at the top of the fence to keep your cat from getting over it. This will give the cat a hard time keeping their balance since the bars will be constantly moving when your cat steps on them, with the tendency of letting the cat fall on your side of the fence. A downside to this option is if the fence is short, the cat won’t have to land on the roller bars, making them useless. The cat may also risk getting an injury.
6. Put up a cat-proof fence.
Put up a netting specially designed for this purpose. It is installed at the top of your fence as a fence extension that leans inward at a 45-degree angle, acting as a barrier between your cat on the ground and the top of the fence. These can also be installed on trees, which your cat may use when he realizes that the fence is compromised.
7. Cat repellant
There are different kinds of cat repellants. There are ones that use motion sensors that spray an offensive but harmless scent. Some will produce an irritating sound that only cats are able to hear, when the sensors detect motion. The objective of both these methods are the same, train the cat to correlate the smell and the sound to climbing the fence, to hopefully end the habit.
8. Water sprinklers
Cats are not the biggest fans of water, so you can try installing a motion-activated sprinkler near the fences around your house so when your cat comes anywhere near the fence, they get sprinkled with water.
What are other steps I can take to keep this behavior under control in the long run?
Spay or neuter your cat
Like we mentioned above, unfixed cats will go looking for a mate all around your neighborhood. So, to keep this from happening, neuter your male cats. Spay your female cats to keep your neighbor’s cats from paying them a visit as well.
Provide food and water at all times.
Never let your cat’s food and water bowls go empty, they will go looking for food elsewhere if they have to.
Give your cat a safe space of their own
Provide your cat with a sanctuary only they can access without them constantly being annoyed by small children or your dogs. Keep it entertaining for them with multiple toys, cat trees and poles to climb on, as well as an outdoor bed to sleep on.
Always set aside a part of your day to bond with them.
To feed your cat’s curiosity for the outdoors, try taking them on walks. Spend time with your cat, shower them with hugs and pets to make them feel secure.
Cats are intrinsically curious and it can be a chore keeping them from jumping over your fence to explore. They may do this due to their want to go hunting, to look for a mate, to look for food, or just because they are bored. You can install a higher fence, a cat-proof fence, roller bars, anti-cat spikes, cat repellants, or a metal fence to keep this from happening.
Other ways to discourage your kitty from leaving your property are to get them fixed, make sure they are well-fed, giving them their own safe space, and taking the time to bond with them.
Image: istockphoto.com / Volga2012