Keeping cats in

There is a growing acceptance by cat owners of the benefits and need to contain cats. This page provides information on the benefits and opportunities for keeping your cat confined. The ideal solution is providing it an enclosed outdoor area with access to your home.

The ideal solution is providing it an enclosed outdoor area with access to your home.

Indoor cats

Increasingly, cat owners understand the many dangers outdoor roaming cats encounter. Cats who roam freely outdoors tend to have much shorter lifespans exposed to traffic, attacks from other animals, untreated health conditions and injuries and weather extremes.

Most cats adapt well to living indoors, especially if conditioned from an early age. However, adult cats used to roaming may have some difficulty adjusting. If this is true for your cat, RSPCA recommend keeping it inside overnight, gradually increasing the time you keep it in.

Some councils have introduced by-laws to enforce curfews. Contact your local council to find out if you have a cat curfew in your area.

Why keep your cat indoors

  • Indoor cats are safe from other animals.

The most common injuries reported by vets from cat fights are abscesses. These are incredibly painful and often need costly veterinary treatment. Diseases like Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) can also be transmitted through fights. It will also minimise the risk of your cat contracting diseases, fleas, lice, ticks or worms from other animals.

  • Indoor cats make better neighbours.

Your cat will be less likely to disrupt your neighbours.

  • Indoor cats preserve wildlife.

Keeping your cat indoors prevents your cat from hunting wildlife.

How to keep cats indoors

Providing a climbing/scratching pole, food, water, a litter tray and toys contribute to successfully keeping your cat indoors. Other ideas include providing:

  • High resting places where cats can survey the surroundings whilst feeling safe;
  • Enclosed spaces where they can retreat and hide from people and other animals;
  • Clean comfortable bedding in quiet areas to allow sleeping and resting;
  • Additional sights and sounds they’ll find interesting such as watching nature footage on television or access to windows to watch what is happening outside.

Cat Proofing and Enclosures

Some councils have by-laws that make cat confinement compulsory but before you cat proof your backyard or build an enclosure, check with your local council to find out if you need development approval.

Cat-proof fencing

Cat-proofing your fence gives your cat complete access to your whole garden.

Ask your local council if they have restrictions on fence extensions or adjustments. Below are ways you can cat-proofing your existing fence:

  1. Netting| A fence with inward-facing overhangs (net barrier) can discourage your cat from leaving your property. If you’re handy, you can do this yourself or you can hire a contractor.
  2. Purpose designed addition | There are commercial fencing system products which install ‘paddles’ along the top of your existing fence. These ‘paddles’ rotate when your cat touches them which discourages them from jumping on the fence.
  3. Remove ledges, platforms and trellis near fencing and block gaps under and to the side of fencing to reduce the exit routes.

These additions may also keep other cats from entering your garden.


You can confine your cat in an enclosure attached to an existing structure or have a free-standing enclosure.

In an enclosure, provide your cat a warm dry bed, shelter from wind and rain, and shade from the sun and access to fresh water and a place to toilet (away from where they are fed). They’ll also enjoy having access to platforms at different heights and climbing structures.

There are commercial free-standing enclosures available, you can design and construct your own or commission a contractor. The size of your free-standing enclosure will depend on the number of cats you have and how they behave together. Allow at least 2 square metres of floor area for each cat and at least 2 metres of height*.

Download the Good Cats Play at Home booklet for more information.