When Rufus developed hyperthyroid cat-proofing my back garden became vital. I had almost never seen him use a litter tray, and suddenly stopping him going out after almost 15 years of free access would have been cruel.
I started with a promising back garden – the house along most of one long side, a tall brick wall opposite, the neighbours garage along one of the short sides and a brick wall along most of the other short side. Using information from iCatCare (formerly the FAB) I had done quite a lot of work, but hadn’t realised how easily the cats could escape via the wood garage until I saw Rufus giving a demonstration!
What was missing was overhangs on the side gate, garage and shed, plus repairing existing overhangs that were damaged by the weight of snow in the winter of 2010/2011. I got some more information from someone at a cat show, which is that the overhangs should feel insecure to the cat.
So, I got some cheap shelving brackets, green plastic garden mesh, green plastic-covered garden wire and a staple gun. I put the brackets along the structures that they could escape up, and stapled the plastic mesh along the bottom of the brackets. I accidentally stapled my palm at one point as well – not as painful as I’d imagined! I also had to get a better staple gun!
Then I loosely fastened the outboard end of the mesh to the ends of the brackets. The garage and shed are both wood, and are close to each other, so I simply made a ‘roof’ with the mesh between them.
The other weakness was behind the shed. I dragged out the rubbish, and used strips of metal as extensions so I could use more of the plastic mesh to stop them going behind it – the garage had been done previously. Finally I ‘knitted’ bits of mesh together with the wire until I was happy no weak points were left.
It was nerve-wracking testing it. As Rufus was not as agile as Minnie and also no longer as strong I started by letting him out when I was in the garden. He looked longingly through the side gate, and along the side of the garage. He had a trial climb, but he didn’t get out.
The next step was letting Max in the garden, again while I was there, and he didn’t get out either! The final step was letting Minnie in. She had a trial climb or two, but she also couldn’t get out.
Result! Now I can have back windows and/or the back door open when it’s hot, and Max and Minnie have free access via the cat flap.