Catification: Jane’s DIY Cat Run

Jane and her husband saved a lot of money building this outdoor cat enclosure at their home in Virginia by using plans available from This kind of enclosure lets cats enjoy the outdoors without being exposed to threats. You don’t always have to spend a lot of money to create something that will really benefit your cats!

Here’s what Jane has to say about their project:

“My wonderful husband built our cat run with the help of  I came across their site after looking at expensive (unaffordable) ready-made runs on the web. I bought a copy of their book, which provided great instructions (even though my husband said he didn’t need them!) All the materials were available at our local home improvement store and it cost about a quarter of the pre-made enclosure I had been looking at.

Unfortunately, the only suitable access point is via a window in the house, but my husband created an enclosed ramp and our local glass company cut a hole in the window to fit the cat door and it works perfectly! We currently have six rescued cats and all but one love going out (she’s rather timid about the outdoors but likes to sit with her head sticking out of the cat flap!)

We’ve put a cat house and shelves in the run, and pots of catnip, but there’s still some “interior design” I’d like to do. We also have bird and squirrel feeders and a bird bath at the back of the run for their viewing pleasure! The honeysuckle & passion flower are running a little wild at the moment but provide much-needed shade in the summer.”

You can purchase the Just4Cats Do-it-yourself manual of outdoor enclosures at for $25 plus shipping. The manual includes 65+ detailed drawings with instructions for building your own outdoor cat enclosure. Thanks to Jane and her husband for sharing their photos!

Notes from Jackson:

Jane and her husband really built a wonderful world for their cats here. I’m sure if there were any territorial difficulties between the cats, that they were diffused by simply adding more territory. This is beautiful, functional and vital for the cats’ happiness. Great job!

Have your own Catification project that you want to share? Click here to submit your photos!

The Catification column on is written by Cat Style Expert, Kate Benjamin. Kate specializes in environmental enhancement for living with cats and is the founder and editor of, the premiere online magazine for design-conscious cat people. Kate’s design expertise and Jackson’s cat behavior know-how combine to create cat-friendly environments that are sure to please both human and feline family members alike.

  1. Renee Crenshaw   July 27, 2012 at 7:58 am  

    This looks exactly like one my husband and father built for me several years ago at our last house. Cats loved it. The only problem we ran into was we used the kind of fencing you did but ended up having to cover the whole thing with bird netting. Birds kept getting in through the large holes and when a cat would go after them they would try to fly out and couldn’t. Thus getting caught by the cats. And many times the cats would bring the birds back into the house – dead or alive. And not to mention the time a squirrel got in and in an attempt to escape the cats, it ran right up the ramp, through the cat door and into the kitchen! What a mess until I was able to get him out of the house!

  2. Catherine   July 27, 2012 at 8:24 am  

    This is what I need for my Bengal. But I’m wondering about close exposure to other cats from the neighborhood. In my case, there is a stray cat house two doors down, a major reason I don’t let my cats go outside. I don’t want them catching diseases.

    1. Elaine   December 10, 2013 at 6:10 am  

      HI Catherine – I have thought about what you say and as I consider creating a safe cat run for my indoor girls, I wonder about adding another barrier, such as simple, black deer fencing a couple of feet beyond the border of the existing cat run, as a buffer to keep other animals at a safer distance? A veterinarian may provide some thoughts on this as well.

  3. Amy   July 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm  

    That cat enclosure is awesome! Wish I was able to do something like that. I am, however, waiting for a contractor friend to come over to check out the yard/fence so I can buy one of the more-expensive ones from a company.
    And Renee-I have to laugh at your entry. I’m sure it wasn’t funny for you at the time. I can just imagine a squirrel getting into the house. How the heck did you get it out?

    1. Renee Crenshaw   July 28, 2012 at 11:10 am  

      LOL!! It was interesting to say the least, especially since all my cats (3 at the time) were all trying to help me “catch” it. The back door to the house is just a couple of feet from the cat door, so I opened it wide up and just tried to herd cats while the squirrel found its way out, which it did pretty quickly, but not before totally tearing up the blinds on all the kitchen windows! 🙂

  4. Kendal   July 27, 2012 at 6:50 pm  


    If you have your cat vaccinated then you don’t have to worry about most diseases. But just like humans they can get cat colds and whatnot. At our last place I had a 6x6x16 cat enclosure, and there were strays cats around that visited. My cats never got sick, but they sure went nuts and wanted out of the enclosure all the time. At our new place it is fenced in almost 90% 2 more weeks it’ll be entirely fenced in with a tall privacy fence.Half of the fencing now is chain linked I leave a window open so they can come and go. I also spend a lot of time out doors with them. They have access T to outside for about 4am to 9pm. Trust me when I say the cats are happier then and healthier then ever. They have room tor run and jump, climb trees and catch birds. Viewing pleasure aside in my opinion that is torture to cats, their instincts are to chase and they get frustrated when they run up against a barrier. The only time my Maine coon got out is because he could see outside the chain link and saw a squirrel down on the ground. With a privacy fence they won’t be able to see outside their huge back yard. Temptation is limited to what is in the yard, and since we have 4 fruit trees that are plenty enough temptation that comes in the yard. Cats,kids and even our adult selves, you can’t protect from everything.. I had to chose between locking my 3 cats inside a tiny mother in law unit or letting them be the felines they are. Inside they have high places to nap and a big cat tree, so I more then met my cats halfway!

  5. debra jacobson   August 14, 2012 at 7:54 am  

    I too was worried about diseases. When I built the cats” outdoor playground, I put attached the wire fencing on the inside of the wood posts. since the posts were about 4″ wide, I attached bird netting to the outside of the posts thereby creating a 4″ buffer zone between my cats and creatures outside. No more nose touching possibilities. I feel much better letting the mother/kittens I foster outside now.:-)

    1. Lani   November 11, 2012 at 11:56 am  

      We are trying to figure out an appropriate spot for a catio, but so far, not so good. The one thing we aren’t worrying about is Herbie’s exposure to other cats. We have two dogs (a lab and a pug) who are Herbie’s good buddies. Head butts, rubs, purrs, etc. They have free roam of our 1/3 acre and the two neighbor cats know it. They sit on the fences and stare at Herbie as he stares back. But they never attempt to get in the yard, even when the bird feeders and bird bath are in full use. What they don’t know is that the Lab would lick them until they were soaked and the pug just want’s to sniff their behinds. LOL

  6. Deb   September 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm  

    The website isn’t working. Anywhere else I can find the things I need to build something like this??

    1. Danielle   January 22, 2013 at 8:06 pm  

      It’s I just was on it.

  7. Merry   March 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm  

    If anyone is interested in using either an area of their yard or the entire yard as a cat run, check out We bought the needed parts to do our entire back yard and it is wonderful and aesthetically pleasing as it disappears against the cedar fence it is installed on.

  8. Kristin Crenshaw   May 4, 2013 at 9:00 pm  

    I love this idea for an enclosure. I am wondering though if this would be better than an electrical cat fence. I am debating on which to install, any suggestions?

    1. jk   December 10, 2013 at 12:56 am  

      Go with the Purrfect fence. I have nearly half an acre fenced with it for several years and it is wonderful. The cats love it. An electric fence will not keep other animals out and it is useless if your cat’s collar comes off. One tip, where it attaches to the house, be careful that the rain downspouts are not inside/nearby as these can be used to climb out. If there are trees near the fence, just wrap them in brown metal flashing to stop climbing.

  9. Britt Johansen   August 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm  

    My cats have always been outdoor cats, without boundaries. But I understand your concern about hat can happen to the cat.
    My experience is that cats are more self-confident and proud when they develope ‘street smartness’ or wandering in the the woods close to home.
    I understand that cats in big asphalt jungles needs to be held indoors or enjoy their ‘catios’, but to be honest I dont understand why people want their pets live a life without freedom.
    In my opinion cats should be free and have a good home. Cats are by nature independent animals – and I’m honored that my cat wants to live with me, That she comes home to get food, sleep and cuddeling. But I would’t let her stay indoors.
    In the winter she’s out for half an hour a day. She feels the cold, and learns how to find shelter — and then we know where to find her and take her home.

    Greetings from Britt, Norway.

    1. Terry M   August 11, 2014 at 2:40 pm  

      Unfortunately some of us live in cities that actually have ridiculous laws about roaming cats. Here most people don’t mind them, but one complaint to the city and the owners can be fined. So a good catio is better than nothing. I totally agree that cats have much better mental health when they aren’t confined. I’ve never known a “problem” cat that wasn’t an indoor only cat.

      1. ed   April 25, 2016 at 11:09 am  

        Depends upon what side of the fence you are sitting on. I am sure the indigenous life feels differently about which cat is the “problem”.

    2. Will   May 23, 2015 at 2:26 pm  

      In some parts of the world domesticated cats are invasive species that can have devastating effects on the ecosystem. Properly constructed enclosures can allow pets with predatory instincts to enjoy the outdoors without presenting a threat to wildlife.

  10. Monique   October 30, 2013 at 9:26 pm  

    Hi Jane!

    Can you please tell me the total costs for this beautiful cat enclosure. I want to build one just like that but I am worried i will end up spending too much money. A rouch estimate of the cost for wood and other supplies would really help. Thanks!

  11. Lesli Warren   December 9, 2013 at 10:23 pm  

    We built our cat run for our 6 cats 5 years ago. They LOVE it. I like that I don’t have to worry about finding them in the street.

  12. Kathleen Snell   December 10, 2013 at 12:48 am  

    My husband built a out doors enclosure with many levels. We have trees next to it and a wonderful bush. We have a door also to be able to get in in case we need to get in, with a lock. My cats love, love it. We have had a few birds come in, boy was that fun:( We are in the process of putting beams on the ceiling so they can walk to each room and never touch the floor, and what my husband has done to their room is short of amazing. They all have sleeping boxes and hiding places. I know many may think this is to much,But we feel if you own a pet you should do everything you can to give them the best life possible and we do, and maybe some more.By the way our cats are rescues and let us know each day the love they have for us.

  13. Theresa Neill   March 14, 2015 at 2:48 pm  

    I absolutely love the Jackson’s enclosure but I rent a duplex with a large back yard. Does anyone have an option using a movable enclosure similar to this. My cats are very important to me. I’d like to build something that can be moved to another location in the future. I have 4 indoor rescues and 4 out side rescues. I worry about the outside kitties as I have a very busy street with a small front yard; I keep my angels on call all of the time. I like to play with my Kitties and would love to stand and sit inside their enclosure as well.

    1. Kat   July 2, 2015 at 3:11 am  

      We made panels using 2 2×2’s for each panel, then we stapled chicken wires on one side of the panel, and a green wire mesh on the other side of the panel, the panels are put together forming a wall using heavy gauge wire instead of nails, we stood up the panels by planting the bottom of the panels a few inches into the dirt, and they are anchored by cement blocks on both sides, the ceiling of the enclosure is built the same way as the walls. We decided to use panels so that it is modular enough if we decide to make it bigger or smaller later on, we simply add or reduce the panels, the heavy gauge wires make dismantling the enclosure easily in case we need to pack up and move, the chicken wire and the green wire mesh is to discourage the kitties from trying to escape from the enclosure, and to keep a couple of inches of distance between my kitties and the strays roaming in my yard, the cement blocks prevent the kitties from digging out from underneath the enclosure, on 1 panel we put on door hinges to connect to the next panel, and we have a door to go in and out of the enclosure, it is extra work to build an enclosure this way, but it is versatile, we painted it once and it has been almost 10 years, at one point we had 10 rescued kitties in the enclosure, it still works well and looks great!

      1. Toni Taylor   October 22, 2015 at 9:40 am  

        I would love to see a picture of your enclosure! This sounds like something I want to make, but with a partially covered area. Feel free to email it and thank you for sharing!

      2. A forbes   October 26, 2015 at 10:56 am  

        Used 2×2 and at what length? (2x2x8?). Also I’d love to see a picture of your panel as well as the enclosure! Thanks

  14. Charlene Hartman   August 11, 2015 at 10:56 pm  

    I have a 5 year old male cat who loves to bite. I find scabs on my three other cats and he loves to nip me whenever he gets the chance. How can I get him to understand that his behavior is not acceptable?


We regret that Jackson does not answer questions posted in the comments. This is due to his demanding schedule and the high volume of requests he receives. But most importantly, since he has not met your cat, it would be contrary to his approach for him to give specific personalized advice for your specific situation. That being said, general questions and issues are addressed throughout this blog, in his book Cat Daddy and of course, the show My Cat From Hell.

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