After losing two dearly loved rescue cats to the road many years ago, we decided that we cannot let this happen anymore and that the remaining cats had to be kept from roaming freely outdoors for their own well being and safety. But at the same time I wanted them to live an enriched life that in many cases only the outdoors can provide. After long deliberations how this could be achieved, I set out on the journey to create a garden where cats and humans can enjoy themselves alike. The planning of it wasn’t easy as many design obstacles needed to be overcome. The front garden was out of question as we could not fence off our driveway, nor would I get away blocking my neighbours panoramic view to the sea with a high fence. Hence only the back garden was a viable option for the project. However, the back garden is constructed on several levels and heights, which posed great difficulties to plan a viable containment solution. In addition, the shed with its entrance faces this part of the garden, so several exit and entry points needed to be built. In order to buy some time for proper planning, a small catio at the back of the house was constructed first, so at least the cats could get some fresh air if they wanted to.
However, it became clear very early on that this catio was not enough. My cats that were used to the outdoors were not happy. The catio did not give them the trees and shrubs to climb and hide, as well as the space to run. Eventually, we started with the garden conversion. Sturdy timber constructed entry and exit points were set up first. The main fencing solution provided by a UK company called Protectapet followed. It took about a week to set up the fencing.
Next was the planting. Some existing shrubs that posed potential escape routes for the cats had to be replaced with plants that have softer branches, such as bamboo. Lily type plants had to be moved to the front garden as they posed a risk of poisoning for the cats. They were all replaced with cat friendly plants, such as catnip, which cats absolutely adore. Over time, timber cat trees and platforms, as well as little cat houses were added to the garden. After having the fencing now for a couple of years, the bamboo and other plants to hide the fencing has now grown sufficiently high so the garden is pleasing to the human eye as well.
I am delighted I did this garden for my cats. It was a big investment, but so worth it. The cats are so happy there as they can hide in shrubs and bushes, can climb trees, hunt insects and butterflies (and even catch the odd mouse!) and are able to live a worry free cat life. Us humans love the space in the back garden too. It has become our little sanctuary where we relax after a long days work with our feline companions.