Build a Cat Proof Balcony, Because Your Cat WILL Jump Off the Balcony

Here’s what you need to build a cat proof balcony:

Balcony covers for cats

Apartments in most urban areas are small, and we are constantly figuring out ways to maximize space. If you have a furry best friend, space becomes even more important. Cats love fresh air and sunshine just as much as humans do. 

An enclosed balcony will allow your cat to be outside without the worry of them falling over the edge. Plus, it will give them more space, a precious commodity in an urban apartment. Read on to learn more about how to create a cat-proof balcony.

How to cat proof a balcony

Cats love to sunbathe. My cat is also fond of people watching, and being on our balcony gives him hours of entertainment every day. Giving your cat the freedom to be outside on your balcony while still keeping them protected is important. It will make you feel awesome too, seeing them enjoy the sunny outdoors.

There are two primary ways to cat-proof your balcony. The first is to use a mesh or screen to prevent your cat from jumping or falling off the balcony. If the bottom half of your balcony is not a solid wall, you will need to wrap the railing with mesh. Fresh air gets in and it doesn’t block much light.

The second cat proofing technique is to use netting. Attach the netting somewhere over the balcony so it drapes down and encloses the space. Apply the mesh to the railing, being sure not to have any small gaps your kitty can squeeze through. 

If there isn’t a solid wall surrounding the bottom of your balcony, use strong mesh to seal it. Then you drape the netting down from above. Like the mesh, you must make sure there are no gaps. Your cat does not have superpowers, despite rumors to the contrary. They can jump or fall and injure themselves or worse.

What you will need:

  • Netting/mesh
  • Cable ties
  • Strong scissors for cutting mesh and netting

The mesh and netting need to be strong. At a bare minimum, they must be UV treated and weather resistant. The sun breaks down non-UV treated materials fast, and it will only be a matter of time before your cat breaks through its protective enclosure. 

The netting and mesh need to be durable, and able to hold up to your cat climbing and scratching. They also need to be lightweight and simple to work with. Find netting that is not very noticeable or thick. Otherwise, you will block the view for both you and your kitty. 

Contrary to popular belief, cats do not have nine lives. Plus, they won’t necessarily land on their feet if they fall from a third-floor balcony. Take every precaution to prevent your cat from being injured while allowing them the pleasure of being outdoors. 

To make your life easier, here is a list of excellent products you can use to create a cat-proof balcony.

DocaScreen Pet Screen

Cat proof screen mesh – durable option

If you are looking for durability and strength, this is the screen for you. The mesh is scratch-resistant, so if your kitty is a climber, check this out. My cat goes nuts whenever he sees a bird and climbs all over the screen trying to get at them. After a year, I still can’t see a claw mark or a tear. The material is a heavy-duty polyester coated with vinyl. The only drawback is it cuts down on visibility a bit. But knowing my cat is safe is well worth the tradeoff. 

The DocaScreen only comes in one color, black. Despite it being made from such strong materials, the netting doesn’t wrinkle or crease at all. It is also soft on the hands, which surprised me. Because of its flexibility, it was a breeze to enclose my balcony with it. 

A bonus benefit is it keeps birds and squirrels off the balcony. While I love the critters, I don’t care about cleaning up after them. Another bonus is it keeps the balcony cooler since it provides a little shade. Combined with the cat-friendly plants we keep outside, it’s like our own private spring meadow. The cat is happy, and so are we.

Saint-Gobain Premium Pet Screen

Cat proof screen mesh – heavy duty option

This screen is perfect for a cat who is very athletic, or if you have a multi-cat home. The Saint-Gobain Premium Pet Screen is heavy duty and holds up extremely well. Saint-Gobain makes this pet screen from a polyester yarn that is tear-resistant. To back up that claim, it comes with a ten-year warranty. If your cat is a climber, then this mesh screen is for you. 

It is also perfect for people with chemical sensitivities. The polyester is practically odor-free, so you won’t have that awful plastic smell on your balcony. Another plus is the screen is fire resistant, and if I’m not mistaken, it is the only one on the market claiming that. It only comes in one color, charcoal. 

Because Saint-Gobain made it to be extra-strong, it is slightly more difficult to work with. The one minus to this brand is that it’s a little darker than most other screens. This is because of the thicker mesh weave. But if it can keep your cats safe, then it is worth a little less visibility. Plus, it will give you more privacy. This is an excellent mesh screen that will keep the kitty safe and it will last for years. 

Bird-X Heavy Duty Premium Bird Netting

Cat proof netting – heavy duty/durable option

Though it is made for birds, cat lovers around the country have fallen in love with this netting. It is a heavy-duty and durable product that truly lasts for a long time. It comes with a ten-year warranty and is very low-maintenance. Once you’ve installed it, you and your cat will safely enjoy an expanded living space on your balcony you can enjoy year-round. Another plus is that it is very see-through, so you and your kitty will appreciate the outdoors even more.

They make the netting from thick polyethylene that resists heat and the elements. It is very strong but surprisingly easy to work with. If you live in a snowy area, have no worries about this product breaking down in an ice or snowstorm. When you open the package, you will notice the netting looks small. You must stretch it out before installing it. 

Use a square to make this job easier, and be sure to lay something heavy on the corners, like bricks. If possible, get someone to help with the stretching. It is much easier with four hands. This is an excellent option for making your own catio.

Bird-X Standard Bird Netting

Cat proof netting – budget option

Like the above netting, they make this mesh for keeping birds out. But cat lovers on a budget love it too. It’s not as strong or durable as the heavy-duty product, but if your kitty is more on the lazy side, you will do just fine with the standard version. If your cat loves to climb and play, then go with the heavy-duty mesh instead. 

The material is UV resistant and does a decent job of withstanding the elements. They make it from polypropylene, which isn’t as strong as polyethylene. 

The netting comes in a large roll, and you need to stretch it out before installing it. Oddly enough, it is more visible than the heavy-duty version. But it is still easy to see through. There isn’t an automatic ten-year warranty like the stronger version. Plus, the only way to get a warranty is by calling the manufacturer which I find confusing. 

Overall, it is a great product if you are watching your pennies. It lasts for several years and will keep your kitty safe, as long as they aren’t an active climber.

TR Industrial Multi-Purpose UV Resistant Black Cable Ties

If you are a renter, these will definitely come in handy. Instead of using staples or nails which leave a mark, these industrial-strength ties will hold down your netting just fine. They come one-hundred to a pack, and I can personally attest that they work. They are UV resistant and practically weatherproof. Unless you live in Death Valley, they won’t melt, and they withstand the cold too. 

The ties come in a variety of sizes. In my experience, medium-sized ties are best. Choose the 16 or 18-inch ties. They are incredibly durable, and difficult to remove unless you cut them off with pliers, scissors, or a strong knife. 

The ties come in 100 piece packs. Depending on the size of your balcony, you will probably only need one pack, two at the most. The one complaint I had was they have a strong plastic odor. Other than that, they worked beautifully, and I feel safe allowing my cat to play outside on the balcony. 

Cat proof balcony: Are cats smart enough not to jump off the balcony?

Cats are very intelligent, but sometimes their curiosity gets the best of them. They are also amazing acrobats, which is one of the many reasons we love them so much. Their ability to land on their feet is breathtaking. But they aren’t immune to injuries or worse when they fall from great heights. And accidents happen more often than you think. They even have a name for it. Experts call it high-rise syndrome and protecting your cat is extremely important if you allow them to share a balcony with you.

High-rise syndrome is a reference to the injuries cats get when they fall from balconies, fire-escapes, windows, and other tall places. Cat injuries spike during the warmer months of the year because of windows and terraces being open. 

The reason they call it a syndrome is that it happens so often. If your cat is like mine, they love being in a window chattering at birds or enjoying the warm afternoon sun. Now imagine if a bird landed on the ledge in front of the window and your cat pushed against the screen and it popped out. If you live in a taller apartment building and your cat fell out, this could be tragic. Make sure you secure all your screens before tackling your balcony. 

How high is too high?

Cats love both the outdoors and heights, and while we want to indulge them, it must be done safely. If you are wondering how high is too high for a cat to fall from, it’s less than you think. Cats have been injured falling from second-story balconies. Odds are excellent they will survive, but who wants their kitty to be hurt? The highest a cat has fallen from a building and survived is 32 stories. Personally, I love my kitty too much to take any risks.

Keeping your cat off the balcony railing

Your cat is an escape artist. All cats have the unique abilities to escape from almost any enclosed area, so you must completely secure your balcony before allowing them on it. This means tying down your mesh or netting securely. If you want to be even more proactive, always keep them leashed while they enjoy the fresh air. 

At the very least, consider only allowing them outside while you are present. And if you haven’t micro-chipped your kitty, I strongly suggest doing so. If they do manage to escape, at least you will have an easier time finding them.

It takes a little time and effort to create a cat proof balcony, but it is totally worth it. Your cat will love the fresh air and sunshine, and you will love hanging out with your furry best friend outdoors. Keep your kitty safe!