If you’re building a fence, here’s how you can make it cat-safe.

Most fences in New Zealand are made of timber, but they come in a huge variety of styles.

Although Oscillot can be installed on just about any type of fence, here are some things to consider if you’re building a new fence with cat containment in mind. Following this advice will make your Oscillot installation simpler and cheaper.

1. Make sure the fence is sturdy.

falling down fence

Your fence should look much better than this! 🙂

The fence should not move when you lean on it. Fence posts should be set in concrete.

Reason: Movement of the fence can prevent Oscillot from spinning freely when your cat touches it.

2. Make the fence at least 1.8m (6ft) high.

Plain wooden fence

A simple but effective fence

Reason: When a cat attempts to escape over a fence, it starts by jumping. It then grabs onto the fence and climbs to the top. Oscillot is designed to work when your cat is climbing. If your cat can simply jump over the fence, there is probably no system that will contain them!

If you have a Bengal cat or other good jumper, make it 2.1m or more.

Already have a fence that’s too short? It may be possible to raise the height of your fence using timber, lattice, or even clear/tinted acrylic.

3. Avoid “board-on-board” style fences.

board-on-board fence

Definitely not cat-proof!

Sometimes called “Shadow Box” or “Good Neighbour” fences, these use palings on both sides of the fence in an alternating pattern.

Nice to look at, but unfortunately your cat can probably walk right “through” the fence!

4. Avoid planter boxes against the fence.

Fence with planter in front

Planter boxes reduce the effective fence height.

Reason: They reduce the effective height of the fence and make it easier for your cat to simply jump over.

If you still want planter boxes, then make sure the fence is at least 1.8m higher than the planter box.

Already have a planter box that cannot be moved? It may be possible to raise the height of your fence using timber, lattice, or even clear/tinted acrylic.

5. Avoid unnecessary changes in fence height.

fence at different heights

Changes in height add complexity and cost.

Reason: Oscillot goes at the top of your fence, so changes in height mean potential escape gaps between paddles at different levels, and may require some additional cat-proofing.

If you live on a sloping section, changes in height may be unavoidable and there are ways to deal with that issue.

6. Curved fences will cost more.

Curved fences need shorter paddles and more posts.

Curved fences need shorter paddles and more posts.

Reason: Every time the fence changes direction, it is necessary to cut an Oscillot paddle and insert one, or perhaps two, additional dual knuckle posts, adding to the cost and complexity of your Oscillot system.

Also, is your straight fence actually straight? If you climb a few steps up a ladder and look along the top of it, you may be very surprised!

Already have a crooked fence? It’s worth trying to make it straight before adding Oscillot. Remember, every zig or zag in the fence will increase the cost.

7. Make sure the fence has a top rail or batten along the top edge.

Oscillot on top of timber fence

An unobstructed top rail makes installation easy.

Reason: Oscillot needs to be attached to a strong and stable base, to ensure that fence movement does not impede the spinning of the paddles. We do not recommend simply attaching the dual knuckle posts to fence palings.

Already have a fence with no top rail? Fortunately it is usually not too difficult or expensive to add a top rail or batten. Be sure to use treated timber!

8. Try to avoid fences that have short top rails in between fence posts.

panel-style fence

Short rails between posts are prone to twisting and separating from the posts.

Reason: Short rails between posts are more likely to twist and separate from the posts than longer rails that span several posts.

Already have this type of fence? Depending on how sturdy the fence is, you may be able to attach Oscillot to the existing rails, or add a continuous rail above the existing short rails.

9. Avoid fences that have the rails attached to the sides of the fence posts.

Fence with slats mounted to sides of posts

Fence posts like this make great escape routes!

Reason: This type of fence post practically invites your cat to climb over it. If your cat can go up the post and stand on top of it, it can probably jump right over the fence – no matter what you put on top of the fence.

Already have a fence of this type? You may need to add a top rail, or sheath the post tops in aluminium to prevent climbing. We recommend using 0.5mm thick aluminium sheet, 600mm high (available from hardware stores).

10. If your fence has posts extending above the top rail, you will need to face-mount or bracket-mount Oscillot.

Timber fence with Oscillot face-mounted

If fence posts rise above the top rail, face mounting (shown) or bracket mounting will be required.

Reasons: The post tops would introduce gaps between top-mounted Oscillot paddles (your cat could simply climb up the fence post and over the fence between the paddles). As well, top-mounting would be more expensive than face-mounting because you would need to cut paddles (wastage) and use more dual knuckle posts.

11. Avoid using lattice (trellis).

lattice on fence

Lattice is weak and easy to climb

Lattice is easy to climb and breaks easily, especially if trees grow through it.

Although Oscillot should prevent a cat climbing past the lattice, a solid fence is a better option.

If you must use lattice, make sure it is solidly framed with substantial timber, e.g. 100x50mm.


There are two main styles of gates and Oscillot will work with either style. An unframed gate has nothing above it (Oscillot attaches to the gate), while a framed gate fits below the top rail of a tall fence (Oscillot simply continues along the top rail, unaffected by the gate).

Framed and Unframed Gates

A framed gate generally requires less cutting of Oscillot paddles and will require fewer dual knuckle posts.

Oscillot mounted on a gate

The gate above (right side of photo) swings outward (away from the camera). The paddles will not collide.

If you are planning to face-mount your Oscillot system on an unframed gate (see photo), pay special attention to the orientation and location of the gate.

You need to ensure that the Oscillot paddle on the gate will not collide with a paddle on the fence when you try to open the gate. The easiest approach is to have the gate open outward (as in the photo).

If the gate must open inward, don’t put the gate in a corner. Even moving it 100mm from the corner will be enough to allow the gate to open. In some situations you may need to mount the paddle on the gate at a slightly different height than the paddle on the fence so that they do not strike each other when you open the gate.

Tip: Before attaching the dual knuckle posts to any unframed gate (inward or outward opening), hold them in position while you open and close the gate to make sure they will not hit the gate posts.