What Is a Cat Porch?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A cat porch is an enclosed outdoor area for cats. It keeps them safe while allowing them to enjoy the outside world, while protecting neighborhood birds. There are a number of designs and styles, including modular products people can install along with custom-designed versions tailored to specific environments. The best option can depend on the house and the cats.

Cats can be kept happy and safe--as can the neighborhood birds--with a cat porch.
Cats can be kept happy and safe--as can the neighborhood birds--with a cat porch.

One option is to enclose all or part of an existing balcony or porch. Support structures associated with the existing building are usually already in place and can be used to attach lattice or netting. For people concerned about obscuring views, covering half the environment can allow the cats to go outside while still creating a fully open space for people. Thin netting will also allow sufficient sunlight in to keep the house light and bright inside.

Enclosures can also be extended to make a large cat porch that may connect with a window or door the cats can use to get outside. Modular cat tunnels and enclosures can provide a quick method for connecting cats with the outdoors, as they can be installed and snapped together very quickly. They also have a low profile, and are not as visually disruptive as fully screened porches.

Another cat porch design uses an existing window opening to create what is effectively a bay window for cats. A sturdy box with wired openings allows the cat to jump out the window and sit outside in an enclosed area. Large boxes can feature climbing rails and ramps to allow the cat to change position, while smaller windows may provide just enough room to sit and sun. It is important to support the structure adequately, especially with large cats, as it could wrench out of the window frame.

In a one or two cat household, a small cat porch with a low profile may be sufficient. People with multiple cats may want to consider enclosing a larger area to create a safe environment for their cats. It is possible to build a large run into a backyard that may include landscaping and other environmental enrichment, like boxes to hide in and things to climb.

Cat porches strike a balance between keeping cats indoors and allowing them to roam. Loose cats can be at risk of loss, injury, or disease, and also pose a threat to birds. They can also potentially be a source of neighborhood tensions, particularly for gardeners who may be irritated by cats in their yards. Keeping cats confined on a cat porch while outside can protect them and satisfy neighborhood disputes.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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