• Sue Hartley

Right to roam

Updated: May 9



It’s that time of the year when people with gardens and outside spaces start titivating to help their outside space thrive.


Talking of thriving, I often provide advice to clients on ways to make their outside spaces more ‘cat friendly’, safer and enriched to help their feline family members get the most out of life.


A cat friendly outside space can help in a number of ways …:


o Provides additional ‘resources’ (things a cat values) outside their home.

o Helps to extend a cat’s territorial boundary beyond their home.

o Helps reduce tension in a multi-cat home by providing space and multiple resources.

o Provides options for quiet ‘me time’ if things are busy and hectic inside the home.

o Adds more complexity to a cat’s environment for them to explore and enjoy.

o Helps a cat feel safer, more secure and confident when outside.

o Encourages the cat to hang out close to home to help them stay safe.

o Provides more options for exercise (i.e. running, climbing, jumping, exploring).


In terms of making a space ‘cat friendly’ I’m thinking of …:


o Lots of places to hide (e.g. outside ‘cat houses’, wooden boxes) to help them feel safe.


o Plenty of options to get up high (e.g. shelves, ledges, walls, outside cat trees and towers, garden furniture etc.) for resting and surveying their territory.



o Places to shelter from the sun, wind, rain and cold.



o Plants and vegetation for sniffing and exploring (https://icatcare.org/advice/cats-and-poisonous-plants/).


o ‘Cover’ so the cat feels less exposed using garden furniture (e.g. tables, chairs, benches), ornaments, outside cat ‘tunnels’, kid’s play structures, pots or planters with bushy plants that allow the cat to hide but partially see through.


o ‘Cover’ as well on the outside by any cat flap so the cat has somewhere to quickly go to ‘check the coast is clear’ before venturing further.


o Bowls left out to collect rainwater for drinking or filled up from a water butt if there is one.


o Something good to scratch on (e.g. old tree stumps, logs, branches).


o Somewhere safe to toilet outside (see the links below for more info).


There’s more detailed advice and additional ideas here:


o https://www.battersea.org.uk/pet-advice/cat-care-advice/enriching-your-garden-or-outside-space.


o https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcTsYdKdMRk.

Photos courtesy of Lauren Finka and Battersea Dogs and Cat’s Home.

For The Understood Cat’s website, go to https://www.theunderstoodcat.com/.

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