Introduction: Catproof Your Yard

Picture of Catproof Your Yard

I wanted to be able to let my cats out into our fenced back yard without worrying about them jumping over the fence or other cats getting in. My wife saw a system for sale on the Internet but I made my own for 1/4 of the price. Here's how I did it.

Step 1: The Theory Behind the Fence

Picture of The Theory Behind the Fence

In theory, cats will not climb a reverse overhang or jump out and over something when they can see straight down. I found the first part to be true so far, but my neighbor's cat definitely disproved the second part. The unwanted visitor managed to get in my yard, but he could not get out until I let him out and has not been back since.

By attaching plastic mesh garden fencing to my wooden fence, I have been able to keep my cats in and the neighbor cats out (for the most part).

Step 2: Supplies Needed

Picture of Supplies Needed

Green Zip Ties (Fred Meyer) 4 for every garden post.
4' Vinyl coated garden posts (Lowes) Count the number of 4x4 posts that are holding up your fence and buy that many.
40" Green garden fencing (Lowes) This comes in 25' rolls, buy the same length as the fence you are going to attach it to.
2' of 2x4 boards (scrap boards will do)
1' of 2x2 board (also scrap)
1/2" Plastic leg tips (Home Depot) One for every garden post.
Hacksaw or Saber Saw With Metal Cutting Blade
1/2" Electric Drill
1/2" Drill bit
Electric or Manual Staple Gun with 1/2" or 9/16" staples
Tape Measure
Chalk Line

Drill press
Chop saw or Radial Arm Saw

Step 3: Make Your Drilling Jigs

Picture of Make Your Drilling Jigs

First, I made a couple of guides for drilling into the fence.

1. Cut two 10" to 12" lengths of 2x4 and the same length of 2x2. If necessary, cut a 2x4 in half.
2. If you have a chop saw or a radial arm saw, cut a 6" wedge of scrap wood at 45 degrees. If not, use a compass or other device to mark 45 degrees on the wood and cut it by hand.
3. Place the wedge under your drill press with your 2x4 pieces on top of it and drill a 1/2" hole completely through the board as shown.
4. Nail the 2x2 to the remaining 2x4 creating a 'V' shaped board.
5. This next step is pretty tricky to do, but if you're patient you can do it. Create another 6" wedge from scrap lumber, except make this one 62 degrees.
6. Put the wedge under your drill press with the 'V' guide on top of it and drill through the joint where the boards meet (through the middle of the 'V').

Some drills have bubble levels built into them. If you have a drill with a built-in level, you can use that instead of a drill press as long as you are very careful to drill straight down.

Step 4: Snap a Chalk Line

Picture of Snap a Chalk Line

Snap a chalk line about 30" down from the top of the fence, all the way around the yard. Using the flat guide, drill a hole into each fence post. Use the 'V' guide to drill holes in the corner posts.

Step 5: Insert Posts

Picture of Insert Posts

Using a hammer or your 2x4, gently tap fence posts into the holes you drilled.

Step 6: Cut Off the Posts

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Using your level, mark the posts you just inserted even with the top of the fence and cut them off with your hacksaw or saber saw. Cap the cut end with the leg tips.

Step 7: Attach the Fencing

Picture of Attach the Fencing

Attach the top edge of the garden mesh to the posts using the green zip ties the whole length of the wall or the length of the mesh, whichever is shorter. Make sure to overlap the ends enough so that the bottom reaches all the way to the corner.

Starting in the center, push the green mesh fencing against the wooden fence and attach it to the post near the bottom using another zip tie. Work your way to both ends, one side at a time.

Finish up by adding two more zip ties to each post evenly spaced so that the fence is attached to each post with four zip ties.

Using your staple gun, affix the green mesh that hangs down below the posts to the wooden fence. I put four staples into every fence board, but you may choose to use less.

Step 8: Happy Cats!

Picture of Happy Cats!

The cats love being able to go outside again, even though they are all big babies and wouldn't last ten minutes in the real world.

I wanted to get this published for a friend, but I will be adding directions for being able to open your gates. I'll show how I did it, but I'm sure someone with more imagination can figure out a better way to do it.


Natashah280 made it! (author)2016-07-26

We have cat proofed our garden also. It's worked great for the last 2 years she used to try and get out but has never succeeded and has now given up. My neighbours have done there's this week as we are on a busy road but their cat can climb up it and out any ideas why . Thanks picture of the neighbours one attached

NinaV13 (author)Natashah2802017-10-01

indeed, the overlap of fencing needs to be fastened to the fence. But, equally important, to my opinion your neighbour better had used cat net (which is flexible) and not chicken wire (which is stiff) and should stay a bit loose, not too much tightened up. Most cats won't climb things that ar not sturdy and stable. The chicken fence is stiff enough for a cat to stand on.

cattery_mom (author)Natashah2802017-09-25

A few ideas. Is the cat going under the overlap of fencing? It needs to be fastened to the fence every few inches. The angled portion needs to be wider and the fencing needs to be tauter/stiffer.

QuestionsQuestions (author)2016-07-16

I love it! It will make a little predator happy to be outside again.

mariamarte (author)2016-06-05

Great Idea! lots of cats in my yard but does it work for squirrels too? I would be totally in to do this

DenisJ (author)2015-09-06

This is an awesome idea

Rbecca (author)2010-02-22

I am currently working on an outdoor cat fence, too, but rather than buying and cutting garden stakes, I am using flagpole brackets (the small ones used for classroom flags). I installed a bracket on each fence post, inserted a 1/2" X 36" wooden dowel into the bracket, and attached lightweight garden netting along the top side of the dowels. I stapled the garden netting to the fence at intervals. The brackets provide a uniform angle and it looks good. You can place them near the top of a five foot fence and no one runs into them. Here is the website where I found this method. There are also instructions for chain link fencing.
What a cool thing for our cats!

GailS3 (author)Rbecca2015-05-23

do you recall where you found your flagpole brackets? No one seems to carry them locally.


Trudijane (author)Rbecca2012-02-16

I have done something similar to what you have done, except I have a problem with trees inside my yard and close to the fence (3 of them).

I have a U-shaped area and on the left & right sides, first I have to staple some mesh to the fence on the bottom (only because the fence has spaces in between that the cats can easily get through. Then near the top of the fence (5') I have screwed in 5 flagpole holders at intervals. After putting the flagpoles in the holders, I then staple gun more mesh at an angle all the way across and it works. The cats seem to look at it as a ceiling even though they can scale part of the lower mesh.

But I have run across problems with trees along the back fence. I do have some "tree-guards" on the big trees, but my cat can still scale the back fence and somehow get through a gap that may be created in the mesh I put there as a ceiling. Once he gets through he is able to walk across the mesh along the back fence.

This has been an problem on & off since for 6 months there is enough stuff there to prevent him from leaving the yard; then after a time, he may discover a small gap in the mesh that enables him to get through the mesh to the top (like now).

The only way I can see how he is escaping is to stake him out, but he is getting smart about when, where and how I'm watching him and won't do it unless he's sure I'm away from a window. Suddenly he's gone. And he can't come back the way he left because when he wants in, he's at the frbnt of the house waiting for me at the front door to let him in,

I've usually been able to find where the problem is, but I don't see anything yet. He's driing me nutz!

Jabberwocky246 (author)Rbecca2010-02-23

Rbecca, that's a great alternative that I hadn't thought of. I put my cat guard low enough so that it would not be seen from outside of the yard due to my homeowner nazis (I get nastygrams for leaving my garbage can where it is visible from the street). But there is certainly no reason it can't be higher if you don't mind the appearance.
Thanks for the idea.

Rbecca (author)Jabberwocky2462010-02-24

Thanks! I live in an older neighborhood that seems pretty mellow - lucky.
We just finished the cat fence and released the critters to check it out. Our most adventurous cat - Nemo, started climbing the fence post, stopped - looked up, and jumped back down. I considered that our first success. We will continue to monitor the cats for weak points, but if I was a cat I'd just give up and enjoy being outside.

deeds76 (author)2015-03-17

Thank you, Thank you This is great and not expensive. I can now leave my cats out without worry. I also would like to see instructions for a gate. Please.


simon.davies.5496683 (author)2015-03-10

All supplies for cat containment fencing are available here:

ccross6032 (author)2015-03-01

So clever and helpful and much cheaper than what you can buy! - thank you! :)

cathy.c.bay (author)2014-11-07


Zeekthehammer (author)2014-05-26

thats a great idea if you want to let your indoor "in heat" cats out side for a wander but don't want them knocked up. If anyone is wanting to keep cats out of their flower beds you only need to place water bottles and chilli peppers in and around the perimeter as they do not like the water bottles for some reason as well as when they lick their paws the chilli peppers piss them off too so they won't return. I learned the trick from my Thai Grandmother Pon.

Ryanbighead (author)2009-02-26

Whats the reason for not wanting the cats out of the yard?

1. Life expectancy for cats that are allowed to roam free is about 1/2 that of indoor cats. 2. Cars vs cats. Cars win. 3. One of my cats already has feline HIV from an escape a few years ago and I don't want to pay to treat any more diseases.

drusilla (author)Jabberwocky2462014-05-04

A few more reasons to add: (4) Cats hunt, which can lead to them getting intestinal parasites. Also in many areas, outdoor cats hunting the indigenous fauna is a serious problem for the local ecosystem (for example, New Zealand).

milesnorth made it! (author)2014-04-20

My son and I followed your instruct-able (sort of :-) It was a great starting point anyway. We live in Chugiak, Alaska and our cats would be bird food if left to roam outside. (Had a beautiful bald eagle 15 feet up a tree outside our door this winter). Our pics are not great, but thanks for the ideas. Our cats are pretty impressed :-)

milesnorth (author)2014-02-23

Very nice informtion. THANKS. Been trying to pull together ideas for doing just this. This was just the ticket! Very cool.

runey71 (author)2013-04-17

I did this to try and keep my cats from escaping the back yard. I made my own brackets rather than buy them pre-made. For close to 2 years they never escaped. Then my youngest one started getting out. Took forever but thanks to a motion sensor webcam I set I finally found out how she was escaping. Turns out cats will indeed climb a reverse overhang. I had my brackets at a 45 degree angle. When I looked at the, ridiculously priced, commercial brackets I realised they were at a much sharper angle. Meaning the cat would be almost upside down when trying to climb over. So when making your own brackets make sure you have them at the correct angle and you should have some nice and secure cats.

caarntedd (author)2011-07-09

I thought this was going to show how to keep cats out of my yard.

xhephaestusx (author)caarntedd2011-07-10

dude just do it on the other side? it might not have to be that big... if you already have a fence that is

caarntedd (author)xhephaestusx2011-07-11

Ha Ha! I was joking. I hate cats.

xhephaestusx (author)caarntedd2012-07-06

yeah, you're totally set: just put it up on the outside and use electric wire!

Jabberwocky246 (author)caarntedd2011-07-09

As noted, I did have one cat that was brave enough to jump over the fencing to get into the yard. However, once inside he could not get back out until my wife let him out. He was so freaked out he never came back.

steve555 (author)2012-01-14

I am concerned about raccoons coming over the fence and I sure would not want to find a yard full of raccoons and opossums in my back yard in the morning unable to get out. Plus other cats stuck in there. I fear I would start a zoo. But I am in bad need of cat proofing my back yard has I have two cats that were strays and now live with me and I need to keep them contained if possible.

Has anyone heard of raccoons coming over the fence?

pessoa (author)2009-03-30

How can this be adapted for a chain link fence?

2 stroke (author)pessoa2010-10-17

if yo have awelder you can weld metal posts an hang the mesh off that

Foxtrot70 (author)pessoa2009-09-26

Yes this can be adapted for chain link fence. Drill holes in fence posts at angle in one side insert rods attach mesh. When I was in the Air Force we used this same idea for securing areas. 1' sections of fence pipe were hose clamped to link fence between posts and had vibration sensors attached, anyone trying to climb fence was detected and then dispatched to varing degrees.

abadfart (author)2010-01-28

very nice i have the same problem  

container_gardener (author)2009-09-12

Cool!!! I love this idea.

NachoMahma (author)2009-03-11

. Fantastic iBle. I have a dog that jumps my four foot chain link fence and it should be fairly easy to adapt this to my fence. Thanks!!

smarterkitty (author)2008-08-25

Pleaseeeee post your instructions for the gate area! That is where my cats are getting out and back in again. My privacy fence is 6 ft. and some in my family are 6'4. Ducking their heads under the netting is not an option. Thank you for the good ideas about the fence.

awoodcarver (author)2008-04-28

Very Good Idea !! what about falling leaves and other junk falling into it ?Can a cats leg fit in the fencing and end up hurt ? If so maybe smaller aviary wire...My wife feeds all the cats around here and I would like to let my old grandma cat out back but hard to do when the food is attracting other cats

Hi, Unfortunately, you are exactly right about leaves and twigs. The lot behind my house has very large oak trees that do tend to collect in the cat/leaf catcher. There is no danger of cats getting their legs caught in the fencing if they are already in the yard, as they won't climb the reverse overhang. There is a slight possibility of cats getting caught coming into the yard from outside, but there is enough give in the fence that cats do not like walking on it (funny animals, they like firm surfaces). As I mentioned, it's not fool-proof at keeping outside cats from coming in, but once they get in and realize they can't get out, they won't come back! Thank you very much for your comments, all are appreciated.

bumpus (author)2008-04-28

ingenious!! now where can i get razor-wire and barbed wire... (i do not condone cruelty to animals)

Scott_Tx (author)2008-04-28

I don't see a catapult anywheres? (get it??!!)

keng (author)2008-04-28

"Happy Cats!" don't you mean "lol catz"?

de-evolution (author)2008-04-27

When I saw this I was thinking high voltage =)
but its a very neat Idea +1

LinuxH4x0r (author)de-evolution2008-04-27

That also works! Great instructable!

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