Invisible Fence for Cats

Hi again folks.

We got a new kitten around Thanksgiving and she really wants to go outside. We keep her indoors for her own safety since she is stupid and would likely end up under a Buick if we let her roam. But a thought occured to me. Can you use the invisible fence system to train your cat not to leave the yard? I know cats are generally intelligent and trainable, but I have never seen this suggested for cats. Is there a reason for this?

Note-I am not going to attempt this with our cat. This is really just something I started wondering about.


I doubt it would be horribly effective.

The invisible fence system requires a lot of boundary training with your dog. You start with the dog on a leash, let it approach the fence, and then when it gets beeped or shocked, you pull it back and reward it with praise. The actual shock isn’t terribly strong, it’s more of a reminder. I tend to think that it would just annoy the cat.

Plus cats can jump high and climb trees, both of which could be used to thwart the system.

From the Invisible Fence site:

Granted, this company is trying to sell a product but I’d be surprised if it doesn’t work. IME, cats are quicker to avoid negative stimuli than dogs are and would probably learn faster where the boudaries are to avoid the shock treatments. They are probably less likely to try and run through the fence to get at passing birds and such where my dogs would probably not be contained if they saw a squirrel or rabbit or other tasty critter hanging around outside the fence. Our cats are strictly indoor but they do like to peek outside and will take tentative steps if I leave the door open. Of course, they’re classic scaredy cats who run right back inside if they hear a strange noise or see motion.

breaknrun, thanks for the cite. While I am not going to invest in an invisible fence for our felines, just the idea of training a cat with a shock collar brings up an amusing image. Thanks again.


there are special cat fences that are designed to prevent cats from climbing/jumping over ( at the top they curve back and actually down again - think of the letter J upsidedown ). This should stop most cats.

Another alternitive is to build a totally enclosed cat run - maybe put it up against a window to allow the cat to enter and exit by itself (as long as the window is open)

As for the electronic fence I don’t recommend it. The first and most important reason is that cats are both pretors and prey. They use there speed and manuverability to escape threats from other animals (and people). By limiting where they can go the cat might not be able to escape a threat (I heard a story about a small dog that was bound by an electric fencewho was killed by 2 other dogs because the dog could not get away.)

Additionally you will have a very hard time training the cat to relate the warning to the invisable fence and might freak the cat out once past the fence casuing him to run further away. Cats are not dogs and don’t train the same way and in general are though of as much harder to train then dogs.

Additionally cats are terratorial and another cat or cats might ‘own’ your yard. If your cat is unable to leave the terratory it could be in a lot of trouble.

My humble O to follow…
Letting cats out is a matter of trust and is a tradeoff between a happy life and a long life (I know this will upset some but I’ve had inside only, I/O and outside only cats and have noticed this pattern). Cats in general are capable of taking care of themselves, they can defend themselves and can run away very effectivly when needed. You have to either allow your cat to handle the situation itself or provide an enviornment where you protect him, where protecting him means you keep threats out not prevent the cat from doing what comes naturally to avert threats.

We have an indoor-only cat and many years ago I trained him to at least understand that he doesn’t belong outdoors. I stationed myself in the front yard holding a water hose with one of those on/off guns. My wife then cracked the front door open and nonchalantly walked away. When the cat stepped outside I squirted him until he ran back inside. We did this several times at weekly intervals. He still tries to sneak outside when we aren’t noticing but all we have to do is yell “Sylvetser get back in the house!” and he obeys every time. This results in some very puzzled looks when this happens in front of visitors. I can’t believe how stupid he is because if he ran away fast enough he would never get wet.

You know, this is exactly why the top of prison walls are built rounded. Helps to stop the crims getting a good grip on the top of the fence.
Unless they are metal, the cat’s claws are likely to be genetic assistance to getting over them though.

k2dave, I agree with what you wrote. If the cat were mine I would probably just let her out. However, she was a gift to my 5 year old and a premature death would result in significant heartbreak. Therefore we decided to keep her as an indoor cat. I was simply curious about the invisible fence thing. Thanks for yor thoughts.