DIY: Cat Proof Fence

by D.R. Stephenson, Demand Media
    An unprotected fence is a kitty highway.

    An unprotected fence is a kitty highway.

    Whether you are trying to keep your cat in the yard or the neighborhood cats out, it is obvious that a fence poses no obstacle to a determined feline, who can easily climb or jump a fence that would keep the most agile dog in. Fortunately, you can fix that.

    Items you will need

    • ½-inch schedule 40 PVC pipe, allow 4 feet per fence post
    • ½-inch, 45-degree PVC elbows, same number as fence posts
    • Drill
    • ¼-inch drill bit
    • Screws, 2 per fence post
    • Metal washers, 2 per fence post
    • Plastic poultry fencing or plastic hardware cloth, 3-foot wide roll(s)
    • 4-inch nylon zip ties, minimum 6 per fence post
    • Nylon string (optional)
    • Hammer
    • Roofing nails
    • Wood posts, metal T-posts or metal pipe
    • Galvanized or steel wire (optional)
    • Poultry fencing or 2- x 2-inch welded wire fencing, minimum 6 feet high
    • PVC “Y”s (optional)

    Cat-Proofing an Established Wood Fence

    Step 1

    Cut the PVC pipe into 2-foot lengths, allowing two 2-foot sections per fence post.

    Step 2

    Divide all the pieces into two groups and mark them A or B with a permanent marker.

    Step 3

    Drill two ¼-inch holes – one at 2 inches and another at 10 inches from one end – in all of the pipes marked with an A. Leave the PVC pipes marked with a B as is.

    Step 4

    Measure and mark a line at 12 inches from the end that you drilled holes in on each pipe marked A.

    Step 5

    Line the mark on the pipe up with the top of your wooden fence and attach it to a fence post at that height, using a screw through each pre-drilled hole in the PVC pipe section. Slide a washer over each screw before putting it in. Do this for all posts and on each side of any gates.

    Step 6

    Attach one PVC 45-degree elbow to the top of each pipe section on the fence, and align them facing the inside of your yard.

    Step 7

    Put one pipe B firmly into the remaining end of each 45-degree elbow to complete the wide L-shape that will support the netting.

    Step 8

    Cut plastic poultry netting or plastic hardware cloth to the correct length for your fence and, starting at one end, drape it across the first PVC “L”.

    Step 9

    Pull the netting into position so that the bottom edge of the netting lies about 1 inch below the edge of the wooden fence and the upper edge lies across the end of the top pipe.

    Step 10

    Attach the top and bottom of the netting to the pipes with nylon zip ties first – keeping the netting draped somewhat loosely – then fill in with additional ties to secure the netting along the length of each pipe.

    Step 11

    Continue stretching the netting across the pipes, one after another and securing with zip ties as you go, until you reach the end of the fence. Cover the gates at the same time, then cut the plastic netting between the gate and fence on the side that opens after completing the run. Allow an overlap of several inches if you need to add an extra roll of netting to finish the fence. Sew the overlaps together with nylon string for security, or cut them so they meet over a pipe section where the zip ties will do the job.

    Step 12

    Go back along the fence and tack the bottom edge of the plastic netting to the wooden fence with short, wide-headed roofing nails to prevent your cat pushing under it to escape. Look for other escape avenues where the fence meets a wall or other interruption in the line and secure those as well. If your fence stops at a house wall, you may need to add pipe “L”s and netting for 3 or 4 feet along the wall as well as on the fence to prevent the cat from climbing the wall or using a window ledge as a launchpad to jump over the barrier netting.

    Building a Free-standing Cat-Proof Fence

    Step 1

    Set wood posts into concrete or use metal T-posts hammered into the ground at regular intervals in the area you wish to fence.

    Step 2

    Attach PVC “L”s at the top of each post – as described previously, if you are using wood posts, or with wire or zip ties if using metal posts. Alternatively, you could use metal pipe – set in concrete or hammered in – for posts, and attach same-size diameter “L”s with the appropriate straight pipe fittings on the tops.

    Step 3

    Stretch lengths of poultry wire, plastic poultry netting or 2- x 2-inch welded wire fencing – a minimum of 6 feet high, preferably 7 feet – along the outside perimeter of the posts to make a secure fence from the ground to the PVC “L”s.

    Step 4

    Add plastic netting to the “L”s as described before, then secure the bottom edge of the netting to the top edge of the fence using light wire or nylon string to weave or sew the edges together.

    Tips

    • You can add barrier “L”s to chain link, wire or other fence types as well as wooden ones using wire, zip ties or other mounting hardware to secure them in position. The point is to have that wide L-shape extended inward. Cats are great climbers but they can't walk upside down.
    • If you want to keep neighbor cats out as well as your cats in, use a PVC “Y” instead of an elbow on top the A pipes, then attach a B pipe and netting to each side for a two-way barrier. Ensure your neighbor is OK with this first.
    • If your cat is especially good at escaping things, use longer pipe sections with wider netting at the top.

    About the Author

    D.R. Stephenson is a writer and artist who brings more than 25 years of both professional and life experience to her writing. She is an anthropologist and naturalist and has published numerous political and environmental articles as well as a field guide on Michigan's flora and fauna. Stephenson holds a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

    Photo Credits

    • Cat stalking on fence in front of wall image by Scott Latham from Fotolia.com