What Fence A Cat Cannot Climb?

Cats have a reputation for being curious, mischievous, and tenacious. While these traits can be endearing, they often lead cats to climb where they shouldn’t – like fences between yards and properties. For cat owners, keeping a cat contained and safe can be a challenge. Fences that seem impassable to humans are no match for a cat on a mission.

In this article, we’ll explore the types of fences that even the craftiest cats struggle to climb. We’ll also look at cat fence toppers and other deterrents to keep cats safely in their own yard. If you’re a cat owner tired of chasing your feline Houdini back home, read on to discover the fences cats cannot climb.

Cats are Natural Climbers

Cats have a natural instinct to climb that is ingrained in their genetics. They are able to jump and climb to impressive heights thanks to their powerful hind legs, flexible spines, sharp claws, and keen sense of balance. According to this source, a healthy adult cat can jump approximately 5-6 times their body length vertically, which equates to around 8 feet for the average house cat! Cats also have incredible horizontal jumping abilities and can leap nearly as far horizontally as they can vertically.

In addition to their impressive jumping abilities, cats are adept climbers and can scale fences, trees, and other structures with relative ease. Their claws allow them to grip surfaces and pull themselves upwards. A key statistic is that cats can typically climb over fences that are 6 feet tall or lower, especially if there is something nearby they can use to jump higher first before landing on the fence. This makes it challenging for homeowners to contain their cats within a yard if the fence is not sufficiently high.

Fence Materials Cats Can Climb

Cats are agile climbers and can scale many common fencing materials used in backyards and gardens. Some of the most climbable fence types for cats include:

Wood fences – Wooden privacy fences or picket fences often have gaps between boards or decorative carved designs that allow cats to get a grip and pull themselves up. Cats can scale rough cedar or smooth wood with ease. According to Pet Stop, “Cats have no issue climbing up wooden fences.”1

Chain link fences – The woven diamond pattern and metal wires of chain link fencing provide plenty of footholds for cats to climb up and over. The openness and light weight of chain link fences make them simple for agile cats to scale. As Quora notes, “Cats can climb chain link fences very easily.”2

Wrought iron fences – Ornate wrought iron fences are attractive but also easy for cats to climb. The curved bars and decorative shapes allow cats to grip and pull themselves up. Wrought iron is also lightweight, so cats can scramble up it with little difficulty. According to Pet Stop, wrought iron offers “plenty of foot and pawholds.”1

Smooth Metal Fences

Smooth metal fences made of aluminum, steel or other slick materials can be very effective at deterring cats. These fences provide a surface that cats find hard to grip with their claws, making climbing difficult or impossible. Some popular smooth metal cat fences include:

  • Purrfect Fence’s cat enclosures, which feature panels made of smooth galvanized steel (source).
  • Rolled sheet metal flashing wrapped around trees to create a slippery barrier (source).

The slippery, hard surface of smooth metal fences thwarts cats’ natural climbing abilities. Brands like Purrfect Fence specialize in cat fencing made from aluminum, steel and other metals that cats struggle to grip and climb. Overall, smooth metal fences are an effective option for deterring curious cats.

Fences with Overhangs

One of the most effective ways to prevent cats from climbing fences is to install overhangs or curve the top of the fence inwards. This article explains that overhangs prevent cats from getting the grip and leverage needed to hoist themselves up and over a fence. The ideal overhang is at least 5 inches wide at a 45 degree downward angle.

Overhangs can be added to the top of existing fence panels or specially designed panels with integrated overhangs can be installed. This source recommends trimming back any overhanging tree branches near fences to eliminate climbing access points.

Here are some examples of fences with overhangs designed to prevent cats climbing up and over:

Wooden fence panel with 45 degree overhang

Metal fence panels with rounded overhang

Electric Fences

Electric fences designed specifically for cats utilize mild electric shocks to deter cats from crossing boundary lines. The shock is harmless but unpleasant enough to condition cats to avoid the fence boundary.

Popular brands for electric cat fences include Purrfect Fence and PetSafe Pawz Away. These systems feature thin wires electrified with safe, low voltages around the perimeter you want to keep cats within. Collars with contact points deliver a light static shock whenever a cat nears the boundary.

Safety features like auto shut-off collars, battery backups, and warning beeps help keep cats protected. Proper training is also essential to teach cats the fence boundaries without over-shocking them. When used correctly, electric fences provide an effective yet humane way to contain curious cats.

Glass Fences

Glass fences are a great way to deter cats while preserving an open outdoor view. Glass is extremely smooth and transparent, making it difficult for cats to get traction and climb. Since cats rely heavily on their claws to climb, the slippery surface of glass leaves them unable to scale it. Brands like Purrfect Fence offer glass cat fencing that is specially designed to be “cat proof” when properly installed.

Glass panels can be used to create custom enclosures and fences to keep cats safely contained in a backyard or patio. DIY projects using glass are also popular, with many cat owners using glass sheets or plexiglass to create barriers on balconies, windows, and doors. The transparency allows light in while acting as an impenetrable barrier cats won’t even attempt to scale.

Fence Toppers

One effective way to keep cats from climbing over fences is to install fence toppers. These devices attach to the top of an existing fence and prevent cats from gaining the footing or leverage needed to jump over.

Spikes and Rollers

Fence toppers often use spikes or rollers to stop cats. Spikes stick straight up and are uncomfortable for cats to step on. Rollers spin when touched, causing cats to lose their balance. Both spikes and rollers can be made from plastic, metal or other materials. They are designed to be harmless yet annoying enough to deter cats.

Add-On for Existing Fences

Many fence toppers are designed as add-ons for existing fences. They attach with minimal tools or hardware. Popular brands like Purrfect Fence and Kitty Corral offer fence topper systems that work on wood, chain link and other fence types. They come in easy-to-install kits and can adapt to fences of various heights and shapes.

Where to Buy

Fence toppers for cats can be found at many home improvement stores, pet supply outlets and online retailers like Amazon and Chewy. For the widest selection, check specialty websites like Purrfect Fence that focus exclusively on cat fencing and containment products.

Other Deterrents

Aside from modifying or topping your fence, there are other ways to deter cats from climbing and jumping over fences:

Motion activated sprinklers can be positioned to spray water when a cat approaches, scaring them away from the fence. Products like the ScareCrow motion activated sprinkler attach right to your garden hose.

Scat mats (also called “paws off” mats) can be laid along the base of fences. When stepped on, they emit a slight static shock that startles cats without harming them. This teaches cats to avoid the areas protected by the mats.

Regular grooming and nail trims keep cats’ nails short, which gives them less grip for climbing up fences. Longer hair on paws and between toes also aids grip, so trimming the fur in those areas can hinder climbing.

For sources, see: https://www.purrfectfence.com/blogs/news/how-to-keep-a-cat-from-jumping-a-fence and https://www.purrfectfence.com/blogs/news/how-to-cat-proof-a-fence


In summary, even though cats are natural climbers, many common fence materials like wood, chain link and brick may not deter a cat from scaling them. Smooth metal fences, fences with overhangs or anti-climb additions, electric fences and glass fences are some of the most effective options if you want to keep your cat from getting over a fence.

For cat owners trying to contain their curious kitties, the best deterrents are providing plenty of enrichment activities inside your home and yard, keeping your cat well exercised and entertained. Consider cat fencing options designed specifically to prevent climbing and add additional deterrents like fence toppers. But ultimately, supervision and training are needed to teach your cat good fence manners.

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