It is said that a cat needs to go outdoors (in general). Otherwise, it will get bored, which can lead to a lot of problems. The fresh air and the sun can also strenghten the immune system and your cat might get some extra exercise. However, there are a lot of reasons why a cat can’t or isn’t allowed to go outside. For example because you’re afraid your cat will get hit by cars. Cats often don’t watch before they cross the street and cars often drive fast and don’t pay attention to it. If you have an indoors-cat, there are many ways to get him an outdoor experience or to keep him busy.
Cats love looking outside windows, tracking everything that comes and goes. They also like lying in the sun. If you have a balcony, this might be even more interesting for your cat. Then it can also hear and smell ‘outdoors’. This doesn’t have to be the entire balcony of course, you can also give him a corner.
Very important is how you secure this place. You don’t want your cat to be able to really get outside and go to the ground. There are special nets for sale to protect cats, but if you’re handy, you could also make a little fence by yourself. Keep in mind that it has to be able to endure the different weather situations and temperatures. You don’t want to buy or make one every month 😉 Also keep your cat’s personality in mind. Does it like hunting and will it jump against the fence/net, when it sees a bird? Does it chew on everything? Then you need to make sure the materials are more sturdy.
You also need to check the regulations, if you live in a rental house/apartment. Maybe your landlord will have to approve this net/fence or some comity.
[Photo of a beige cat sitting in front of a vertical net. Behind the net is a tree and a house.]
To make the balcony a fun place, you can put all sorts of things in there. A place where the cat can rest, in the sun and in the shadow (and shelter against the rain) or maybe a hangmat? (My hamster used to have one and he loved it!) Maybe an activity tree, if yours is active. If your cat is older and has stiff joints, make sure the resting place(s) are easy accessible.
A lot of cats also enjoy a pot with some grass (or other plants – but make sure they aren’t poisonous for cats). If you have poisonous plants and you don’t want to get rid of them, place them somewhere where the cat can’t reach it. They’ll probably nibble on everything that’s in their reach.
If you don’t have a balcony, you can also place a pot with some grass or catnip inside the house. Or a box with some sand, but this might get a bit messy!