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Learn How To Build A Cat Enclosure
This page shows how to build a cat enclosure cheaply by utilizing a structure that is already built, such as a verandah, patio or carport. I show photos of my own cat run that has worked out fantastically and also looks quite aesthetically pleasing.
Outdoor cat enclosures ensure your cat can have access to the great outdoors, while you are safe in the knowledge that they are contained and kept at home. For an indoors only cat, I regard some form of outside time essential.
So on to the nitty-gritty … how did I make my enclosed cat run?
First of all, I decided where and how big. I wanted to enclose half of my carport – which is attached to the house. This way I could still get my car in the other end, and out of the weather.
I made the enclosure so that it encompassed our back door. We have a cat door installed and now the cats can go in and out whenever they feel like it (unless I lock the cat door).
Once I had decided on the size, I measured up and bought (or got for free) everything I would need. I had stuff in the garage that I found I could utilize.
Check around at some local building yards and recycling stations, maybe ask on websites like Craigslist.com, for little bits and pieces. You would be amazed what people throw out, AND you are saving stuff going into landfill. And outdoor cat houses doesn’t need to cost the earth.
What You’ll Need To Make A Cat Run:
- Cat Netting OR wire mesh
- Lengths of wire OR solid bars or rods OR non-stretch rope
- Wire for attaching OR cable ties OR fencing clips
- Nails and hammer if your structure is wooden
- Scissors to cut the netting to shape and size
About The Cat Netting
I much prefer cat netting over wire mesh for a few different reasons:
- First – it is not hard on cat’s claws should they climb up on it.
- Second – it does not look like a cage, the black mesh is rather visually pleasing.
- And third – the netting is light, easy to deal with and very easy to take down and store if I ever need to move house, or if I want to move the enclosure to a new location.
I bought specially made cat netting, pictured below. You can also use “trawler mesh” which is available from boat supply shops. Both types of netting are usually able to be bought by the square yard or meter. This is great because once you measure up for your enclosure – you can buy exactly the amount and the shape that you need.
Most cat netting will have a guarantee, mine had 5 years. This is important because a cheap option may not last long and may not be strong enough to take the weight of cats – who WILL climb up on it.
The hole size of the cat netting should be a one inch square – no larger. This size is too small for most cats to get a foot caught in and hung-up. Please make sure to be careful and watchful with little kittens and small cats. This size is also too small for most snakes to get through, and this was a large factor in making my own cat enclosure safe. We have a lot of pythons in our area – who love to eat mammals!
Why I prefer actual Cat Netting over the Trawler Mesh – is that it is made with a thicker thread. This makes it much safer for the cats to climb up on (and many of them do). Trawler mesh is good to use for a cheaper option in places where weight is not such an issue … such as over the top of your cat enclosure.
Once you have your cat netting cut to size and shape, it is time to start assembling. You need something to thread through – and right along all the edges of the netting, so you can attach it to your structure. Whatever you use for this must be firm enough not to give much – if any weight is placed on the netting. And you need to be able to pull it taught – so there are no sags and bags. I listed above that you need “Lengths of wire OR solid bars or rods OR non-stretch rope”.
What I used myself was a combination of different bits of rod and flat bar that I found around our home, and some pieces I managed to pick up at a builders recycling yard for next to nothing.
These were all threaded through the edges of the mesh … see photo. I didn’t worry about trimming off any excess as I felt this extra allowance added to the strength (not sure why). I also may wish I hadn’t trimmed it if I ever want to move the enclosure to another place.
Then I attached this to the top of carport. My carport is metal so I couldn’t just hammer the netting to wood, which made it a little more difficult. Where there was nothing to attach it to, I joined the rods by cable ties to a length of slotted angle iron so I had something firm for the top edge. And the ends of the angle iron were firmly attached to the top of the carport posts, by wire.
I also used this angle iron right around the enclosure – along the bottom edges. This prevents and movement, and makes sure no animals can push the mesh upwards and get in or out of the enclosure. See photo below …
And once it was all finished, and tidied up – here are the kids in their new playground:
So, with a little forethought and a days work, we had made a roomy 16 foot by 20 foot, safe and secure outdoor run for our cats. They certainly loved to be able to get out in the fresh air. And it is hilarious to watch the speed with which they go through the cat door, when they get the zoomies. At least they can now really stretch their little legs 🙂
Check out these two laying sleeping, under their grass garden, on a hot summers day! Now you know how to build a cat enclosure, why not make one yourself?
IMPORTANT NOTE: Cat netting is not impervious to naughty little animals. I found that over time there had been places where something (mice?) had bitten through a piece of mesh right at the bottom of the enclosure. No major problem for cats getting out – but large enough to let a snake in. So, remember to keep an eye out for any damage to the netting.
If you have used cable ties, rather that wire, then you also need to replace them occasionally. Being plastic, they tend to weaken and perish over time. Maybe using wire would be a better and more permanent solution for most people.
If you would prefer to buy a pre-built cat enclosure kit, or a ready made cat run, here are some choice options for you …
Next – An Extension To Our Outdoor Cat Home!
After our new cat pen had been up a little while, we realized that there was only a small amount of direct sunlight coming in under the roofing, some in the early morning (when our kitties were still inside in bed) or in the late afternoon. We also wanted to allow our cats to be able to get onto grass and earth – for the health benefits.
So we decided to add an extension out the end of the enclosure – onto the lawn. You can read about that soon here: How To Make A Cat Enclosure Extension
So now you know just how to build a cat enclosure, come back and let me know if you start a project like this yourself. And if your cats love it as much as mine do!