Build a DIY Outdoor Enclosure and Let Your Cats Have their Cake and Eat it Too!
Hey guys…been away for a little awhile but guess what I’ve been doing? Yep, the creativity bug has bit again and this time I’ve been working on a diy outdoor cat enclosure for my 3 cats to have a little outside freedom within reason.
If you have indoor cats that you’d like to give a taste of the outdoors without compromising their safety – read on – and best of all I’m going to show you how it can be done. Don’t spend money you don’t have on an expensive kennel!
With this project you can kill 2 birds with one stone and have happy, safe cats and probably spend about $200 (give or take) on supplies in the process like galvanized wire.
A Pin For Your Cat Board! 🐱
And better yet, it’s going to look a heckuva lot better than one of those boring metal cage-like structures! Although this is not a pet product blog you’d be surprised at the creative ideas that pet ownership can muster up. Things like toys, perches, and habitats are things that lend themselves to new and innovative ideas.
Need help planning your cats’ very own slice of outdoor heaven? I’ve created a handy catio blueprint/cheatsheet with all the specs and dimensions labeled that you can download and use as a reference. You can access it from my free resource library by filling out the form below:
Why Build an Outside Cat Enclosure?
It’s only natural for housecats to want to experience the sights and smells of the outdoors…but with so many potential dangers out there, we concerned pet parents want what’s best for them and that means making the backyard a safe haven.
I knew this as well as anyone, so I was making some DIY cat enclosure plans a few years ago…with some blueprints on paper (anyone who loves to draw really “gets” blueprints!) a $200 budget, and some materials. We used 4 by 8 foot sheets of lattice designed lumber, cedar planks and assorted nails and screws.
It probably took my husband and I all of one spring to complete the “kitty corral”…this was probably about 2012-13, we had Buddy (yellow tabby) and Cosmo (black longhair). They practically ignored it! (Oh well…Keep reading!)
How Our Catio Started Out… As a Re-purposed Bunny Home!
In the spring of 2015, we ended up with a pet lopear bunny, (yes, right around Easter…he was literally an Easter bunny! lol) and we ended up turning the cat corral into a habitat for him – talk about a great re-use! Unfortunately, we lost the bunny a few months later, I think he just disappeared, sadly. But here’s what that cutie (and the habitat) looked like:
But as they say, life goes on and in the fall of 2016 I was “claimed” by a cute young 3 month old gray/brown tabby we named Sputnik, and as it turned out, he LOVED the enclosure once I turned it back into a special outside place for him! And wouldn’t you know, the others followed (Aren’t cats just the darndest creatures sometimes)?
I always get the itch to go outside too in the spring and even though the structure was a great start, I felt it could be improved upon which is what I was doing as I stated earlier.
This past week I managed to make that thing bigger. So if you’re following me we started out with a 4 foot by 8 foot entry level size and then with a little extra work and maneuvering doubled it to an 8 foot square so our little guys could have more room!
Now this is not the only way to do it..unlike us, hopefully you can decide on a size that would be just right in the first place 🙂 There are a number of things up for consideration here – how many cats do you have? How big does your layout need to be? Are you wanting to create a “cat run” (like a tunnel) or a box shape enclosure? Now moving on to the how-to’s!
How To Build an Outdoor Cat Enclosure!
First decide on the “wheres” – Most people let them adjoin one side of their residence. To satisfy your cats’ need for independent coming and going, they will also need a cat door for flawless entry and exit. For the most part, you will definitely need a cat door for this project so get one (they’re not that expensive)
If you can build one of those door/flaps yourself, more power to you 🙂
Determine the place to mount the cat door… And you don’t need a degree in shop class to do this either; I installed mine right next to our window AC unit which worked like a charm.
Next decide upon the desired size (this may be where blueprints on paper may come in) If you need to take some time to figure out the ideal width, length and depth by all means do it. Better to have a plan than come up short later if the work in progress doesn’t match what you thought it should.
If you want to go bigger, go for it! It will mean more materials and legwork but that can open the door to all kinds of cool ideas like an all-out kitty playground, perches, tunnels, the sky is truly the limit!
Access and Gather Your Materials
While these may vary according to personal taste, there is one thing that can’t be overlooked and that is the structure. You kinda have to think about this like you would building an add-on room. A room under construction has a foundation in place first – Ideally, the structure needs to be made of wooden lumber planks.
List of Essential Materials
- Wooden planks (length indeterminate, thickness about 1.5″-2″)
- Galvanized wire mesh
- Assorted hardware like screws, nails and braces
- Staple gun
Steel wire mesh is sometimes labeled as “all purpose fencing” and has a galvanized outer layer to minimize rust. It has a 1 by 1 inch layout and 16 gauge thickness. It is very strong and durable and a staple product used in making enclosures for rabbits or chickens so it is certainly should be your go-to main material.
You will have to cut the wire mesh as needed with bolt cutters. It is sold by the yard, so it shouldn’t be difficult to determine how much you will end up using.
A staple gun will affix the wire mesh to the wooden structure. Sometimes I used craft wire in a few places – you’d be surprised how strong that stuff is.
What’s the Easiest Way to Build an Outside Cat Enclosure?
If you don’t have a builder’s bone in your body – fear not – I did read up on a very interesting alternate option after researching ideas for adding on to my enclosure. You can purchase some wire storage cubes made by Whitmor. They work great for animal habitats.
The individual sides of each cube are made to be easily reconfigured as needed. Some people were using them to make guinea pig and rabbit enclosures so just think a little bigger for cats in this case.
A set of 4 is about $30 and so if you ended up getting 7 sets you’d spend about $210 but the process of putting them together would be duck soup because you wouldn’t need any other hardware other than a mallet and zip ties to secure them together.
Check out this blog that is dedicated to building the best catio on the block! These people certainly know a thing or two…and they’re using exactly the kind of cube crates I’m referring to here. (Gosh if only I’d known about those stackable cubes sooner – hindsight is always 20/20 as they say)
UPDATE: I finally got myself a set of those stackable cubes …they worked out great!
Don’t Just Stop There…Make Your DIY Cat Enclosure A Pet Paradise!
As time goes by you may consider the addition of things like tunnels, various perches, or ramps. Cats like to be on high places, they like to explore, and keep an eye out for outdoor critters like birds or squirrels. I’m thinking about the addition of some solar lights surrounding the perimeter.
That would look really cool and they could see where they are going since cats love to prowl around in the evening hours!
There’s really no right or wrong way design-wise, so long as you’ve created a secure foundation so those little buggers can’t get out. So the three “s”s are strong, secure and stable. Then you can have fun with the inside elements too!
Don’t forget, you can get my FREE catio blueprint to download and refer to which will assist you in planning your cat enclosure successfully. To get access please fill out the form below:
Good Luck and Happy DIY-ing! And don’t forget you can always modify or expand upon your enclosure in the future (not to mention add some aesthetic touches – like a birdhouse, lantern, etc. I plan to do so as well with mine!)