Outdoor Cat Safety: Building a Cat Enclosure

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 29th Aug 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/9306fik./
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Cats

Outdoor cats face many risks. In some areas it is not legal to allow your cat outdoors off your property. Many places have laws allowing “Stray cats” to be picked up and removed, or in some places they can even be Shot! Cats should not be tied up outside and as such building a proper cat enclosure is a good option.

Location of your Cat Enclosure

You do not want to have to carry your cat in and out several times a day (as you would if you used the enclosure in the picture), so the location needs to be where a cat can enter on its own. Many yards have a wasted space between the house and the side fence. This may be an ideal location for your cat section.

Another good option is under a raised deck. This is best if the deck is high enough it allows you to go under if you need to. Some folks enclose their deck, patio, or balcony, and call it a "Catio".

I suggest (unless you go with the "Catio" option), you plan to use an existing window for the cat to use to enter and exit the enclosure. A cat flap is good if you want to keep bugs out of your house.

In my photo above the structure was actually made for housing my birds, but a person could build a similar thing for cats.

Materials Needed

2x4's Lumber – preferably treated for outdoor use, or you can paint them.
Chicken wire, or Stucco wire.
Hinges and Latches (for gate/door)
Nails
Staple Gun, and Staples - or U- Shape Nais if using Stucco Wire
Hammer
Landscape Ties - optional
Astro Turf – or outside false ground cover – optional but good if your cat section i is under the deck where it is only dirt.
Decor Items - Logs, Toys, Dog House (for shelter)

How to Build the Cat Enclosure

Construct a frame out of the 2x4's. It should be no taller than 6 or 8 feet (higher is wasted space). Make a gate for you to be able to enter if you need to (as when catching a cat, or to clean up).

Cover the whole thing (including the top) with chicken, or stucco, wire, held on by the staples. For stucco wire I use “U” shaped staples like you purchase at a hardware store, and nail the wire to the wood. Stucco wire is heavier than chicken wire, and more expensive, but lasts longer and looks better. You can use a thicker hardware cloth (wire) from a hardware store, around the bottom if you are concerned about mice getting in.

You may choose to use Landscape ties at the bottom, or a 2x4. The ties being heavier and longer lasting, and should prevent any animal digging out – unlikely in cats, but worth considering.

Other Tips

1.If you cannot do the build this yourself, hire somebody.

2.Cats should not go out at all if they are not vaccinated.

3.Cats who are not spayed or neutered should not go out, even in an enclosure as they will attract the attention of tom cats.

4.If you wish you can provide a litter box in the cat section but you will need to make sure it is sheltered from rain.

5.Large logs are a good addition and allow the cats a place to scratch.

6.Make sure you can open the gate from inside the enclosure, so if you enter and shut the gate behind you, you can still exit. A short string tied to the latch may work for you.

7.Security. Your cat section must not be an easy access for burglars. The window (or cat access) must only be large enough for a cat, NOT a person. You may want to be able to shut it at night or when you are not home.

8.Make sure the cats enclosure provides shade and shelter from the rain.

9.The entry window can be left open for the cat to come and go as it pleases, if you are not leaving it open you will need to make sure the cat has food, water, and shelter when outdoors.

10.Hang a piece of fabric or lace from the top of the window, or get a cat flap, the cat can push through it, but it should stop bugs from entering your home.

11.Have a mat or rug in your house where the cat enters, as it may have dirty paws.

12. Astro Turf works well for under deck situations where the area would be primarily dirt. If you do not use this your cat section will be one giant litter box, and your cats will be tracking in a lot of dust. Cement paving stones would also work well.

13.If you only have one cat, a small cat section is fine, but if you have more cats you want to make sure there is at least 10 sq feet per cat.

14.Toys, other than the logs mentioned above, you may want to put some toys outside, nothing that will get wet or dirty though. Climbing places are very important – if you can construct a resting area about 3 feet off the ground, or even a table, the cats will really like this – cats like to be up high.

15.Check the cat enclosure regularly for signs of needed repair, clean any leaves off the top in the fall as they will cause snow to accumulate, causing a weight problem.

Links

General Guide on Cat Care

Building a Starplate Aviary - as seen in the Pictures

Guide for Supplies to Buy Before Getting a Cat

Building a Catio

Become a Wikinut Writer - Get Paid to Write

Republished on Full of Knowledge.

Tags

Cat, Cat Enclosure, Cat Run, Cat Safety, Cat Section Cat Shelter, Catio, Cats, Kitten, Kittens, Pet

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

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Comments

author avatar Denise O
30th Aug 2010 (#)

Congrats on the star.
I feel this article deserves such a prize. Thanks.

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author avatar Alexandra Heep
30th Aug 2010 (#)

Cool - I wish I was a home owner ... I am going to share this article with my facebook friends and thanks for including a link to one of my articles

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author avatar Bettebet
17th Apr 2011 (#)

Hi
I am thinking of enclosing the underside of my deck for my cat.
It is 2 foot tall on one end and about 8 feet tall onthe other.
10 x 12 feet long.
Should I bury the "fencing" wire to keep him safe?
If so How deep do I need to bury it?
Any suggestion for this project would be most appreciated.
Thanks!
Brooke

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
17th Apr 2011 (#)

My brother and sister in law have their cats in an under deck enclosure. THey dont have the fence burried, but do have it attached to heavy landscape ties at the bottom, which works great.
At the 8ft high area, you may want to make a "gate" for yourself to get in if you need to. My brother/sister in law use a basement window for there cats to go in/out of.

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author avatar Tranquilpen
6th Sep 2011 (#)

Thank you Mark so very thoughtful of you to place this information at the disposal of wikinut readers. Two of my cats are living in the house but a stray that used to hang around on the yard, keeping his distance has started venturing up to our back door since our jack Russell died. I feel like constructing an enclosure for it like the one above.

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