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A domestic cat enclosure (or cat cage) is either a permanent or a temporary structure intended to confine a cat or multiple cats to a designated space. Some cat enclosures have a secondary function of ensuring the cat's safety by keeping other animals out, such as predators of cats (coyotes, wolves, etc.) or the safety of other smaller animals like cat prey (birds, mice, etc.). Enclosures may be constructed in either an indoor or an outdoor environment.
When a cat enclosure is constructed outdoors, it is used to prevent cats from wandering off where they may become lost, endangered by cars, or eaten by predators. Cat enclosures may also be constructed outdoors in order to provide a predominantly indoor cat a means of exploration and outdoor enrichment, while maintaining their safety. Domestic cat breeders may use indoor cat enclosures to separate animals or encourage selective breeding. One specific situation where a cat enclosure is particularly useful is when a cat is moved from one house to another. Cats have an instinctive drive to return home, often called a 'homing instinct', which is normally beneficial, but can endanger the cat immediately after a move if the distance between homes is significant. Placing a cat in an outdoor enclosure when it reaches its new home will prevent the cat from performing this instinctive behaviour.
Most domestic cat enclosures are constructed of a metal or wood frame with a steel wire mesh. Considering that cats are excellent jumpers and climbers, most enclosures also feature some type of roof structure to prevent cats from escaping. An enclosure may or may not have an integral floor. For those enclosures that do not have an integral floor, the existing surface where the enclosure is constructed serves as the floor.
Cat enclosures may be home-built or may be acquired from commercial suppliers. Those enclosures that are home-built are typically custom made. Enclosures purchased from commercial suppliers can also be custom made, they may feature a modular design that allows for some customisation, or they may only be offered in standard shapes and sizes.
Ideally, a cat enclosure should tailor to the cat's needs, taking into consideration their breed, personality, behaviour tendencies and their age. Some basic factors to consider are access to sunny areas, but also shelter from harsh weather including rain, wind and excessive heat, a sleeping compartment and an exercise area, a litter tray and regular worming and vaccinations as recommended by the veterinarian.
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