We saw it in a previous article, the cat can quickly turn out to be a problem for biodiversity. The LPO estimates that around 75 million birds fall victim to cats each year (ie around 5 to 10 birds per year and per cat). These conclusions are similar to those made by a scientific studies published in 2013 in the United States. If sterilization makes it possible to limit the populations of stray cats, our domestic cats can also contribute to this problem as soon as they have access to the outside. Let's see together the different solutions to protect both wildlife, but also your little feline...
The outdoors, a possible source of danger for your cat
In addition to the predation it causes, your animal can also run many dangers outside. The main coming from the road. In Europe, there are no less than 200 million animals who die each year following a collision with a car. Unfortunately, the cat is no exception!!
On the other hand, cats that go out are more exposed to diseases. Examples include fiv, also called cat AIDS, and felv, or feline leucosis. These two diseases weaken the animal's immune defenses and favor the appearance of other pathologies. Note that if your cat goes out, it is rather advisable to have it vaccinated against leucosis (felv). There is no vaccine against fiv, but castration of males greatly reduces the risk of them contracting this disease. Other inconveniences can also be cited. Viruses such as calicivirus and herpes virus. But also parasites such as fleas, ticks, worms, and finally the risk of poisoning, especially on the edges of treated agricultural land.
Finally, if he does not know the outside well, or if he is frightened during his walk, your cat can also get lost. In 2021, icad (national domestic carnivore identification file) listed more than 67 lost cats. To overcome this risk, it is of course essential to identify your animal, especially since it has been mandatory for cats since 000. But it can also be interesting to consider solutions to protect it effectively.
Outdoor cat, how to protect it?
However, despite the dangers mentioned above, if your cat is used to going out, there is no question of completely preventing it from accessing the outside. Solutions exist to allow him to enjoy sunny days in complete safety. Before you start your work, you will first have to determine your main objective. Indeed, all the possible solutions do not entirely solve each situation.
So if your goal is to protect the wildlife in your garden with certainty, you will have to opt for a completely closed enclosure. It is also the most reliable solution to avoid illnesses and accidents. You will then have to decide whether to install the enclosure adjoining your house (in which case the cat will be able to go out directly through one of the doors or windows of this one), or on the contrary in another place of your land (you will need this sometimes provide a secure "path" system to connect house and enclosure. On the other hand, having an enclosure will often not allow you to open all your exits without having to take precautions. You will then have to think about securing your doors. and windows not facing the inside of the enclosure.
Many types of enclosures can be made yourself with environmentally friendly materials. For the less do-it-yourselfers among you, it is also quite easy to find pre-designed solutions to install directly at home. For example the website Omlette offers many enclosures that can be adapted to various situations. Below is an example of an enclosure from this site, to which an insect protection net has been added.
However, this can be expensive and complicated to set up in certain situations.
Other solutions exist to overcome these constraints. Thus, if your land is not too large, you may be able to secure it in its entirety. Either by using the concept of the mesh return placed all along the fence, or by taking an interest in the system of oscillating tubes to also be fixed at the top of your walls and mesh. Attention, in both cases, these solutions are only compatible with a height of walls, fences, or barriers greater than 1m80. Otherwise your cat will quickly jump over it. Similarly, if your land has trees, they must either be moved away from the edges of the land or be protected as well.
These two solutions have the advantage of being relatively reliable while leaving full access to your garden for your cat. On the other hand, they do not make it possible to protect the biodiversity of your garden, but prevent your cat from going to hunt further. Often birds and mammals will quickly learn to take refuge out of reach. In France, it is relatively easy to find suitable equipment for building an interior return on a wire mesh or along a wall. To be effective, the mesh return must be at least 50 to 60 cm wide. As shown in the diagram above, it can be embellished with a second vertical return down to a 20th of a cm, or be lined with Plexiglas plates on which your cat cannot hang on. The following video illustrates this type of solution,
On the other hand, the solution of oscillating rollers is not yet very widespread with us. We find it sold by the site oscillot. But if you are a bit of a handyman, it is also possible to make it yourself.
Construction, what does the law say?
The construction of an enclosure or an aviary on your land may require some adjustments or even a request for authorization to be legal. In general, it is advisable to consult the Local Urbanism Plan (PLU) of your municipality to check any specific provisions that may be mentioned there. On the other hand, it is mainly the size and the height of the enclosure that will determine whether other arrangements must be made.
In order for the construction to not require any authorization, it must respect the following criteria:
- not exceed 5m² of surface
- not exceed 12m in height
- not be carried out on protected ground
- comply with the provisions of the PLU
For other cases, there are two types of authorization requests that can apply to the construction of an enclosure or an aviary. The prior declaration which applies to the following criteria:
- for a surface of 6 to 20m² outside the protected area
- for a surface of 0 to 20m² in a protected area
- for enclosures over 12m high regardless of the area they occupy
Finally, beyond 20m² of surface, it will be necessary to systematically submit an application for a building permit.
And in an apartment then?
In an apartment, the risks for wildlife are practically non-existent. On the other hand, the risk is that of the loss of your animal following a fall by the window or the balcony. An accident can happen quickly, solutions exist to ensure that your cat stays indoors.
Nets, fences, mosquito nets and many other ideas will allow your feline to get some fresh air without the risk of inadvertently joining the too numerous population of stray cats. In addition, some of these solutions can have benefits for you too!! Thus the net makes it possible effectively to keep pigeons away from a balcony without hurting them, the mosquito net will get rid of insects without the use of pesticides that pollute both the environment and the air you breathe.
For the solution to remain solid while preventing insects from entering, for example, it is possible to couple several solutions together. A mosquito net can easily be attached to a fence or a wire-reinforced net. So your cats will be safer than with a simple mosquito net or a too fragile net that could tear.
If, despite your precautions, birds continue to come to your property at the risk of crossing paths with your cat, it may be useful to keep them away using harmless and ecological solutions. For example, it is possible to recover a few CDs that you no longer need, and hang them on the trees in your garden. They will reflect light and in some cases this may be enough to keep birds away. In the same way, it is quite possible to install or manufacture one or more chimes whose noise could also help to keep wildlife away. These are called sound or visual scarers…
These various enclosure solutions are not exclusively reserved for cat owners!! Indeed, the same types of solutions can be adapted to protect against insects, or to shelter a few hens which can fit into a logic of permaculture as we mentioned in a previous article. In the case of the construction of a chicken coop, in addition to the legal criteria mentioned above, it is important to also take into account the departmental health regulations. On the other hand, particular importance must be given to securing against predators such as foxes, weasels, etc.