Pets enjoy being outdoors as much – maybe more – than people. Allowing your cat or dog outside offers them fresh air and a chance for exercise. But being outdoors can also be dangerous. Predators, road traffic, poisonous or sharp plants are only some of the threats your pets can face. Building an outdoor enclosure can keep them safe. Here are some tips on how to build the kind of enclosure that will work best.
Think of what kind of structure will fit best in your landscape, lifestyle and for your pet(s). Offer comfort, shade, safety, a place for water and ease of cleaning. You may want to incorporate a long running space or other structures for exercise.
Decide if you want to build a run, a temporary pen, permanent outdoor housing or a combination of these enclosures. There are a number of products and plans you can build from depending on whether you want something ready-made or do-it-yourself. Most enclosures should have roofs of shade cloth, wire or other material to provide shade and to keep pets from escaping. A roof may not be necessary where walls are sufficiently high (and – for cats — too smooth to scale) and there is already plenty of shade.
Dog pens are often build with chain link and you can find kits at retail stores. You can also create your own framework with wood, fiberglass or vinyl and cover it with chicken wire or hardware cloth. Make sure the structure is built with resistance for jumping and scratching. Flooringcan be gravel, grass, soil, decomposed granite, pavers or easy-clean pet mats. Choose ¾ inch gravel over pea gravel since the latter will kick out of the enclosure easily and can be difficult to clean with solid waste matter. You can also buy outdoor mats ideal for pen floors.
Cats are lighter and can be contained with a lighter framework. Make sure the screening over the framework is tight since cats can be master escape artists. Give small paws firm footing and add benches and ramps for exercise. You can even use PVC pipe as a framework for an inexpensive, lightweight base structure.
Both dogs and cats will appreciate long runs that wind around the house or through the garden for exercise. Allowing a run or enclosure to open onto a cat or dog door will allow your pet the opportunity to go indoors and out at will.
Don’t leave pet food out, particularly after dark as it will attract rodents and other undesirable wildlife. It can also bring ants.
To make your pet enclosure more decorative, you can surround it with attractive fencing or grow climbing plants over a second, exterior fence wall. You can even find decorative pet houses in prefabricated kits that you can assemble yourself. Some can even function as focal points for your garden, looking like fancy little houses or caves.
Whether you go for something fancy or simple, buy ready-made or build from scratch, creating safe quarters for your pet(s) outdoors will make life easier and more fun for human and animal alike. Keeping your beloved pet safe is well worth the effort. And creating a comfy outdoor home will make for healthier and happier animals.
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