I know there are similar questions here, but I think this one is a little different and I need an answer somewhat urgently.

My house is two-story, with an upstairs living room overlooking the first floor entryway:

Second floor railing, looking over entry hallway with tile floor. Railing is made up of thin metal bars every 4 inches (10 cm) or so.

Our cat, visible in the bottom right of the image, is about 4 years old. Since we got him (as a kitten), he's enjoyed peering through these metal bars to see downstairs. Up until this month, we've had no issues and he's been very safe around the edge.

However, after two close calls, I'm getting worried. Both times we hear pained/scared meowing, and have to pull him back after his front paw slips off the edge. It happened today, with nobody managing to get to him for at least half a minute, and he was panting and gripping the metal bars in fear.

We've considered some sort of net around these edges, but it would take quite a lot (this wraps around a lot of the upstairs), and would not look nice. If this is the best option, I'll gladly accept it, but are there any other things we could try?

Thanks in advance for any help.

  • Similar, but I posted a different question because the situations are different: in the linked post, the cat has already fallen and didn't seem to be hurt. The fall here is probably not as forgiving. Additionally, this is inside, so putting something between the bars to prevent the cat falling will probably end up looking really bad (and other people in the house would object), while something string/fabric based would invite him to chew on it and potentially fall while playing. Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 18:19
  • Hmm maybe put something on the ledge to make it less slippery?
    – Kat
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 2:41
  • You could try some black-metall roundpen for rabbits. But if it looks good for you, I could not decide :) Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 5:23
  • Are those bars wide enough apart that your cat easily fits through them or does he have to squeeze through?
    – Elmy
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 6:05
  • @Elmy He can fit through pretty easily Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 12:30

3 Answers 3


Cats are experts when it comes to falling. Their bodies are built for it - their hooked claws are great for going up a tree, but not for coming back down. Their bodies and prepped and ready for impact. HERE is a great article about cats falling, and their likelihood of getting injured. It looks like the balcony may be 10 or 12 feet high? 8 feet is, for a healthy adult cat, totally fine. It gets a little more complicated at that height, but there's a chance your cat will be fine if he does fall -- and it might teach him the lesson he needs. Let's try to avoid that scenario, though.

Training is the best option here. A fence might make the cat more insistent on trying to get through. They love to hang off of things for a "view" (my cat hangs over his perch all the time). Instead, try these things:

  • Put a perch or a cat bed in that area, just far enough away for him to still see over the edge, but not risk sliding through the bars. This will give him a safe place with the view he wants. A lot of cat trees come with baskets, so the edge would keep the cat safer, plus the material is easy to hold if he does slip.
  • Use a deterrent spray along the balcony edge.
  • Virolino's suggestion is totally valid too - maybe the cat realizes you'll come pet and hold him when hangs out by the balcony. As hard as it might be, cat's are smart and resourceful and rather dramatic, so he might just acting. Try ignoring him when he's doing that, and give him lots of play and attention during other times.
  • Perhaps it might be best to pick the cat off the edge when he's hanging off the edge and apparently panicking, but not to give him any more attention afterwards. This keeps him safe if he truly is falling, but it also doesn't train him that it's a way to get attention.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 22:24

I recently had a similar issue and solved it successfully. I laid down tape sticky side up. My cats don't like the stickiness on their paws and they stay off of it. I used it on the top of the wood railing on a second floor that they were running along (and scaring me!) and now they stay away from it. The tape is minimally visible and solved the problem. With any luck, one day I can remove the tape and they will be conditioned to staying away from the railing by then.


As you guessed already, it is going to be difficult to have a solution which is both useful and good-looking.

My advice is to train the cat to return by itself when it is "stuck" there. A wild guess might be that the cat is faking the danger to get your attention.

An extra reason to go the training path is the following. Let's assume that you actually find a solution to upgrade the fence so the cat does not go through any more. But what if the cat will try to go on top of the fence, in order to look down? The risk is even greater, I assume.

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