The Outdoor Cat

Those of us with free-spirited ‘outdoor’ cats are only too familiar with that awful feeling which besets us when our cat decides to venture outside our garden and refuses to come home when called for. There we are, searching the streets calling for our mischievous bundle of fur, and worrying ourselves into an early grave.

Feline Friends has investigated a few pet tracking devices in the past but, with some 300,000 cats killed on our roads in the UK every year, we decided that the ability to locate our cats was possibly of lesser importance to us than being able to confine them to our gardens. We, therefore, considered methods of containment which would not smother our cats’ love of the outdoor life.

Conventional Fences

There is a massive range of both wire and wooden fencing tall enough to keep our cats in the garden, and numerous of them are ideal for this purpose. There are also many purpose-built enclosures, and fence topping devices. ‘Protectapet’, ‘Katzecure’ and ‘Purrfect Fence’ are just a few examples of the large assortment available. However, many of us have gardens for which this type of fencing or enclosure is simply not suitable for a wide variety of reasons. We example just a few of the problems:

  • A low fence or hedge may be the existing boundary with a neighbour who does not want to see it replaced with a high fence
  • A tall fence might obscure your, or your neighbour’s, favourite view
  • Physical constraints in your garden may prevent the installation of a conventional fence or enclosure
  • Trees or sheds in the proximity of a fence or wall might enable your wily little rascal to clamber up them and then jump over the fence or walls

  • Gates are all too frequently left open; or
  • You wish to contain your cat within a specific area of the garden which is not suitable for an enclosure.

Therefore, for these and/or other reasons a conventional fence or enclosure might not work for you.

Cat/Pest Repellers

Designed to keep a range of four-legged pests away from your garden, different ultrasound frequencies are used with various pest repellers to deter the type of animals you wish to repel – be they small cats or dogs, or large foxes or dogs.

Feline Friends reversed the role of these repellers, and encircled a garden boundary with the repellers facing inwards, hence endeavouring to dissuade two rather free-spirited cats from leaving the garden.

The repellers can usually be battery operated or connected to a power source. In our test case, we used batteries. The results were not very promising when applied to a containment use:

  • The cost of the number of repellers necessary to encircle the garden was considerable; as was the number of batteries required
  • In some areas, the repellers were able to be fixed to walls and fences, but in others, it was necessary for them to be mounted on short poles in the front of shrub/flower beds. This not only looked unsightly, but the shrubs quickly grew around them – hence preventing the repellers from operating.
  • Batteries expired at different times, leading to periodic gaps in the system, and the resultant necessity to make overly frequent checks was annoying.
  • Then one of the cats which we had endeavoured to contain within the garden promptly trotted past the nearest repeller as though it didn’t exist.
  • Although this interesting role-reversal for a pest repeller was unsuccessful in this instance, it led us inevitably to investigate a radio controlled “hidden fence” – better known as Containment Fences.

Containment Fences

The use of these particular fences can be controversial, primarily due to the fact that the collars worn (known as E-Collars) are similar (but entirely different) to those used by people to correct bad or unsuitable behaviour in their dogs.

Feline Friends believes that this controversy is largely based upon a widespread lack of knowledge of how containment fences work, and how our pets are quickly trained to benefit from the safety which they afford. We are therefore dedicating a separate page to our investigation into these systems.

Please click here, or on the page title ‘Containment Fences’ for the results of our research.

"There is no more intrepid explorer than a kitten"

Champfleury (Jules Fleury-Husson)