I live in a second story apartment that has a deck overlooking the lawn behind the apartments. The deck is enclosed by a solid wall about 4 feet high and a top rail width of about 6 inches. In the four months I've lived here my two cats have been able to go out on the deck, day and night. Sydney, the 2-year-old male, is the one most interested in perching on the railing, peering over the edge and, in my opinion, not always properly distributing his 13 pounds on the side of the deck I equate with safety and a little too much on the side of disaster.
The other evening I heard frantic scratching sounds coming from the deck. I ran out to investigate and realized that Syd had fallen over the edge. I spotted him sitting where he must have landed. It was getting dark and as I sprinted outside I prayed that he would stay put until I could get to him. The back yard is bisected by a cyclone fence. Not too high for me to climb over but extending out about 4 feet on the other side was a row of blueberry bushes with netting over them. I seriously considered trashing the netting but ran to the other access point to the back yard. I'm not sure what I was thinking, as this fence is about 8 feet high. I had one hand on the fence, preparing to climb, when the owner appeared with his little yappy dog and let me in. I ran in the back as he offered suggestions about protecting the deck railing so that this very thing would not happen again.
Syd was right where he landed, which frightened me more than if he had wandered around a bit. I scooped him up and ran upstairs. I tearfully did a examination, gently probing and checking. Not only was he perfectly all right, but he wanted to go right back out on the deck. No way! We sat together and tried to recover from our respective adrenaline rushes. I asked him to please be careful and not to ever do that again, knowing full well that the bubble over his head had nothing in it but a big question mark.
Both cats have been outdoor cats at previous abodes, and Sydney remembers all too well how wonderful it is. My apartment is at a very awkward location for cats to come and go safely. The desire to please my cats (which overrides nearly all my other needs) has prompted me to investigate cat harnesses and taking them outside on a leash. I'm confident that Syd will take to it, provided he sees the connection between harness and leash and smelling all the good outdoor smells. I have ordered a harness called a Walking Jacket, which looks more sturdy and comfortable. Hopefully it will arrive soon. I can't take much more of his pleading watery eyes and the mournful cries at the door!