Put the Cat out!

By Janice Biniok

It’s that time of year when hyacinths burst into color, birds fill the early morning with song—and your cat starts her incessant yowling to go outside. Normally happy indoor cats often serve up a cacophony of complaints come spring, yearning for the great outdoors.

If you decide you’ll meet her demands, a bevy of new products make it easy to give your cat a safe taste of the outdoors. From manufactured to do-it-yourself, there are outdoor cat enclosures to fit any taste and budget.

"The first thing is that you definitely need to make it safe," says Marilyn Krueger of TheCatCoach.com. "Outdoor cat enclosures need to keep cats in and other animals out."

Enclosures come in almost limitless sizes and can range from under $100 to over $300. Some versions mount inside a window like an air conditioning unit, some pop up like a pack-and-play for use on your deck, and still others can be set up on the lawn and boast multiple levels and some serious square footage. The one size issue Krueger cautions about is not to go too small. Kreuger also offers some guidance on where to set up those non-window-mount versions.

"The location should be a quiet, protected area with birds to watch," she suggests. "You can make the environment interesting by providing trees or other vertical territory. A variety of plants can provide different textures, but make sure the plants are non-toxic." (Check Cornell University’s list of plants to avoid with cats.)

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