This post is all about cat-proofing your balcony and windows, to make sure your cats will lead a long and healthy life. We’ll look at how to make your balcony safe for cats by attaching a safety net, and we’ll look as to why you should cat-proof your balcony. We’ll also look at the expected cost of cat-proofing your balcony.

Overview of cat-proofing methods

Let’s look at various ways of making your balcony cat-safe. We’ll look at these in detail later.

Balcony above, railing available

With drilling

Without drilling

Balcony above, no railing available

With drilling Without drilling
Cat safety net Cat safety net
Prop Prop
Eye bolts Cable ties
Steel cable

No balcony above, railing available

With drilling Without drilling
Cat safety net Cat safety net
Railing clamp (Option 1/Option 2) Railing clamp (Option 1/Option 2)
Eye bolts Cable ties
Steel cable

No balcony above, no railing available

With drilling Without drilling
Cat safety net Cat safety net
Fix bar in balcony by drilling Use cement to affix metal frame in planter box
Option 2 Option 2
Have aviary installed Cat safety net
build a stable frame as seen on Schnurrinchen.de

If you feel like this is too complicated or you’re generally not very good with tools, you can also ask a professional to help you make your balcony and windows secure with or without drilling. It’ll be more expensive than doing it yourself, but you’ll be sure it’s been done right.

Why should you make your balcony safe for cats?

A balcony is a lovely place, especially for indoor cats. When our cats moved in, our balcony was being renovated or at least the renovation had been planned and we were waiting for it to happen. It took ages until it was finally done and during all that time, our cats could only admire the balcony from the window. It was an exciting time for them when the balcony was done and the safety net put up and they could finally add this additional space to their territory. They sniffed everything with great suspicion. Now they love it there – when it’s warm, they like to sit in the sunshine or the shade, they chase after bugs and enjoy the fresh air.

In my opinion, a secure balcony will make your cat happier and I definitely recommend this for your cats. But why should you make your balcony cat-proof? Won’t it be fine without a net?

It’s a fair question. As to why you should make your balcony cat safe, there are two reasons. One is to keep your cat from running away. That’s one reason why (at least in Germany, where I’m from) you might see balconies with a safety net even if the balcony is quite low. Maybe there’s a tree nearby or something else a cat could climb. If your cat is an indoor cat, you don’t want it running off via the balcony.

Our cats are very happy on the balcony.

Another reason for cat-proofing your balcony is to keep your cat safe – you want to prevent your cat from falling to its death. Common wisdom is that cats always land on their feet, no matter what height they fall from. Unfortunately, that’s an urban legend. Cats can easily die of falling from a window or balcony or get terrible injuries like broken jaws, smashed teeth, broken legs and internal bleeding. (You may want to read the Wikipedia article on high-rise syndrome.)

Sure, cats are really good at climbing and maybe you’re thinking a cat won’t be so dumb as to jump down from the 8th floor.  However, cats can be incredibly clumsy and sometimes they fall off perches or jump after a toy. If they see a pigeon on your balcony rail, they might jump towards it, and if they botch the landing, they might not survive it. A safety net might be a bother and it may not look all that appealing, but isn’t it still better than scraping your cat off the sidewalk?

Why should you make your windows cat-safe?

Windows are a lot like balconies. You may not want your cat to escape, and you should make sure they can’t fall out of it accidentally. If you have hopper windows, they pose an additional threat. I didn’t know this either, but bottom-hung windows (like we have in Germany everywhere) can trap your cat as it tries to climb out. They can then get stuck at the tightest spot and get internal injuries or even strangle themselves. Can you imagine finding your cat like that? What a terrible thought.

Things needed for securing your balcony

Cable ties used to affix cat safety net on our balcony.

There’s a range of nets and frames available for making your balcony safe for cats. The easiest way to attach a cat safety net is by using a telescope bar or prop to attach a safety net. It’s important to get a safety net that has been reinforced with wire (like this one by Trixie). Even extremely active cats will have trouble chewing through those. Cat safety nets are available in different colors; I’ve seen white, transparent, black and olive. My personal recommendation is to get a black safety net. It’s surprising how inconspicuous they are. Our neighbors across the road had one and it took me ages to notice it. White nets or clear balcony netting will catch the sun and will therefore be rather visible. I have no experience with olive colored ones. In some pet shops, you’ll also find safety nets sold by the meter (or yard). (That’s what we did for ours – unfortunately I calculated wrong and we ended up with way too much. Best check your calculations twice!)


Related article: DIY: Cat climbing wall with Ikea shelves


The next factor is the way your balcony is built and whether or not you’re renting or if you’re the owner – in other words, are you confident you can drill holes in your balcony, or do you have to find a solution without any drilling. It’s very much possible to make your balcony cat-safe without using a drill – regardless of whether or not you have a balcony above you.

Our balcony is huge and conveniently has the neighbor’s balcony right above it. Those are ideal conditions for attaching netting with cable ties or for using several props or telescope bars to attach a safety net to.

If you don’t have a balcony above yours, you can work with metal or wooden frames. They’ll be more effort, but you know your cats are worth it.

Props and telescope bars

Securing your balcony with props. (Image used with permission by The Coon .)

The idea of telescope bars is that you use them to tie the netting to. You can also find metal rods that are curved at the top to make sure your cats can’t climb the netting. Alternatively, you can extend a telescope bar or prop to reach the bottom of the balcony above you (if available) to have your netting extend the full height of the balcony. (You can see this in the image.)

Telescope bars are available at Zooplus for attaching to a railing or balustrade. There are also telescope bars for wedging between ground and ceiling as these by on Amazon; they require a balcony or ceiling above. They can also work for windows. You attach your netting with cable ties or, if they come with loops like the ones from Zooplus, you can span a steel cable which also loops through the edge of the net.

Eye bolts

If drilling is not an issue, you can attach additional loops or grommets to attach your nets. Just drill these into your wall and possibly floor at equal distances. Simply look for eye bolts or ask at your local hardware store. Your steel cable loops through those to hold down your safety net.

If your balcony’s design allows it, you might also consider using only eye bolts to attach your safety net by putting enough eye bolts in your floor, walls and ceiling, i.e. the balcony above.

Metal frame

(Image used with permission by BlueWaterCat.)

If drilling is out of the question entirely, you might want to use a metal frame. You can make those from wood or metal – or have them made by a professional. At Boy Katzennetze you an see sketches of how you can make a metal frame. They also sell individual parts on their English website – but I’m sure you can find parts in your local hardware store. If you don’t want to do this yourself, look for an aviary builder in your area. (Obviously the size of your frame will be the main influence on how much you will have to pay for it.) You can affix a frame to the floor with screws or use clamps to affix it to a rail or similar, just to be sure nothing moves or falls over.

From the outside, a frame like this might look a bit like a prison and not particularly cozy, but as I think the next image illustrates quite well, from the inside it feels a lot nicer. Your cats can climb and lie around in the sun – add a bit of cat grass, maybe a bowl with fresh water and I’m sure your cats will love it.

(Image used with permission by BlueWaterCat.)

Surely it’s also possible to use PVC pipes to build a frame which you can then affix a cat safety net or chicken wire to.

Other solutions

If you’re handy, you might come up with many other methods of making your balcony cat safe. On schnurrinchen.de (website in German) you can see how they create a frame for cat netting using flower pots and climbing aids. A large flower pot filled with soil can be quite heavy, so it’ll prevent the structure from falling over. Additionally, they used clamps on the balcony wall. Just be creative – now that you know the basic building blocs for a cat-safe balcony, the sky’s the limit. If you can’t drill holes and you don’t have adequate railing, you could consider setting metal bars in concrete to make them stand up without drilling holes.

Cat netting affixed on climbing aids attached to flower pots.
(Image used with permission by schnurrinchen.de.)

Securing your balcony without a net

Occasionally in forums someone will ask how to make a balcony cat-safe without using a net. This is mostly due to landlords or an owner’s association not permitting netting. Unfortunately, I haven’t come across any good solutions for this (safe the aforementioned metal frame, but I assume if netting is out, so is a metal frame). It’s possible to put netting parallel to the floor with hooks so you can undo it later if you want to go on the balcony without your cat. It’s not a good solution and I can tell you from experience that it’s a terrible hassle to always have to watch your cats when you open the balcony door. At least as annoying is permitting your cats on the balcony only when they’re wearing a harness.

My suggestion would be to show your landlord or owner’s association a picture of a balcony with netting. Depending on how high up the balcony is, a cat net is barely visible from the road – at least a black one. Our owner’s association is also against netting, but we put it up anyway. So far, nobody complained. (And we’re not the only people with a cat safety net in the building.)

I’ve not yet come across any good way of securing a balcony without any netting.

Making windows safe for cats

As for windows, you can buy a sort of lattice that protects cats from jumping out of the top or side of bottom-hinged windows, like this one by Trixie. Alternatively, you can ask someone to build you a metal frame or window balcony (site is in German, but has images for reference) that enable you to open windows entirely if you want to get some fresh air on – or you put up two telescope bars (see above) and affix some netting. I’ve not tried this yet, but I’m tempted to buy one so I can properly open the window when I’m putting the laundry out to dry on the 8th floor. Not being able to open your windows wide is to me one of the biggest disadvantages to having a cat.

Lastly, I’d like to give you some ideas as to how to make a balcony cat-friendly. I recommend planting lots of cat grass, which cats can eat and lie about in. Now your cat-safe balcony is a real paradise for cats!

Garrus sitting in cat grass.

I hope that you, too, will soon be able to offer your cats a secure balcony. If you’d like to send me a picture of your cat-safe balcony, please do – I’ll be happy to publish it!

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Categories: Cats in general

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