Is It OK For My Cat To Hang Out On My Balcony?

Kinda — here's how to make sure they stay safe.

Cat on a balcony

Cats love to explore, and one of their favorite things to do is explore outside — and get as high as they can for optimal neighborhood-watching.

So it's no surprise that cats tend to love hanging out on balconies.

But while hanging out on your balcony might make your cat happy, it’s also important to keep them safe.

And although cats do have a knack for landing on their feet after falling from impressive heights, there’s always a point that’s just too high if they ever did fall.

The Dodo spoke to a couple of experts to help weigh in on exactly how to let your cat safely enjoy their favorite perch.

"Based on the fact that we've picked up cats who have fallen off balconies, we recommend that they're supervised or harnessed in a safe way that they can't get off the balcony," Karen Edwards, animal services advisor at Hamilton Animal Services in Ontario, Canada, told The Dodo.

In fact, cats falling off balconies (or out of apartment windows) is so common that veterinarians have coined a name for it: high-rise syndrome. And as cities continue to expand upward, vets caution that these accidents will only become more common.

Which is why experts recommend that apartment cats stay indoors. If you really can’t bear the thought of your cat being stuck inside, make sure they’re always on a leash — or get even more creative and cat-proof your balcony.

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But regardless of what method you choose, it doesn't mean much without one crucial ingredient: you.

According to Edwards, cats should never be left alone on balconies, even if they’re on a leash, because they're very easily distracted. And when something catches their attention, they tend to go for it.

"We've seen cats jump off balconies trying to catch a butterfly or a bird or whatever passing by," she says. So even if your cat is on a leash, it’s always possible that your cat might find herself leaping — and then dangling — after that butterfly all alone.

Another reason you should keep an eye on your cat? They might want to come back inside.

"Cats should never be left alone on balconies without having a pet door or some other way of getting back inside the home," Sonja Olson, a senior clinician in emergency medicine for BluePearl Veterinary in New York City, told The Dodo. "If your cat spends a lot of time on a balcony, it's best to have the balcony screened-in if that's possible. But even with a screened-in balcony, cats should not be left alone there without a way of getting back inside. The heat or cold could be too much for them.”

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