Cats love to be outside, which is why the balcony is often one of the favorite places for pets living in apartments.
Interesting smells, fascinating sounds, warm rays of sunshine. A trip to the balcony is well worth it for house cats, and for many reasons.
But feline owners must take care that the balcony is a safe place. Three dangers lurk in particular, says Sabine Ruthenfranz, who runs a podcast about cats.
Dangers lurking on the balcony
“On the one hand, cats can fall, something that is generally underestimated. And it is also not true that they come out unscathed in those cases and that they do not suffer injuries, ”says Ruthenfranz.
In addition, the poisonous plants that cats chew can be dangerous for them, and too intense sun can cause damage. For example, cats with light coats can get sunburned.
Protect openings up to two meters high
Falls can be prevented with a net around the balcony. Specialty stores also sell nets that can be screwed on or hooked on, so tenants don’t have to drill holes in the concrete.
“The net must be resistant to exposure to the elements and have a mesh with holes of a maximum of three centimeters,” advises the expert.
According to his advice, black or dark green nets are less noticeable than white or transparent ones.
The net should be secured about two meters above the balcony railings. “Only in the event that the cat has an extreme drive to climb may it be advisable to also close the net all the way up,” says Ruthenfranz.
You will also have to pay attention to the distance between the bars of the balcony fence and cover that space.
“Cats can squeeze through the smallest gaps,” warns Ruthenfranz. “Watch the cat carefully the first time he goes out on the balcony. Cats are the best security inspectors and will find any loophole,” she recommends.
And what plants can you have on the balconies? Unfortunately, many of the plants that are usually grown are poisonous, so the specialist says that cat owners can be safe with species such as pansies (Viola cornuta) or the so-called catnip (Nepeta cataria).
But even these plants, if they come from traditional trade, can be sprayed with toxic substances.
“Therefore, make sure immediately after buying them that the cat does not nibble on plants that are not poisonous in themselves,” advises the also author of books on cats. In her opinion, it’s best to keep the pots out of her reach for the first three weeks.
Protect cats from too much sun
Creating a shaded space for pets is relatively easy. It is enough with a garden chair, under which the animal can hide when the sun is very strong.
“Cats need a lot of heat, but they can also get heat stroke,” warns Ruthenfranz.
Especially very young, older, or sick cats should not spend too much time in full sun, and their owners should be vigilant. “All you have to do is move a chair or a table so that the cat’s head is in the shade,” he says.
Friendly environment for the cat
If you want to create a pleasant environment for your pet, you can install a gazebo on the balcony. Of course, attention should always be paid to the height of the protection.
In addition to toys for the cat, its owners can place a large bowl of water on the floor. “The diameter should be the size of a fruit bowl or salad bowl and about ten centimeters deep,” recommends the cat expert.
The cat can drink there and catch small toys floating in the water.
On the other hand, the food bowl should not be placed on the balcony because the food could spoil in the heat and also attract unwanted guests. For the rest, the same principle applies as in the home, since nothing should be left lying around with which a curious cat could hurt itself.
Another thing that domestic cats like very much is wandering around the balcony at sunset or at night. “They love the night,” says Ruthenfranz. Maybe there are even some butterflies around that the animal can chase.