Catification: Take a Tour of Donna’s Custom Cat Enclosure

Outdoor Cat Enclosure

Donna from Levittown, PA created this spacious outdoor enclosure for her five cats. The cats access the enclosure through a cat door installed in a window above, which is connected to the main enclosure by a caged in walkway. Inside the enclosure, Donna added a water fountain, shelves, and chairs so she can enjoy the outdoors with her cats. To take a tour of Donna’s cat enclosure, check out this video:

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The Catification column on JacksonGalaxy.com is written by Cat Style Expert, Kate Benjamin. Kate specializes in environmental enhancement for living with cats and is the founder and editor of hauspanther.com, 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. Janine Gregor   April 8, 2013 at 7:26 am  

    I am sooo impressed with this structure! It is rare to find a cat owner who has gone out of their way to create a better environment for their cats. They would be ‘ok’ inside wandering around the house but I feel house cat lives could be so much better with some ingenuity. And this is a perfect example of resourcefulness, compassion and smarts.

    The owner of this structure deserves Best Cat Owner Award! ;)

    I’m obviously a cat owner..we have 3 right now. They live in a large home but they love our caged in lanai (we live in FL so they are in the lanai most months since it rarely gets cold). But there are times I just wish I could take their outdoor experience further without jeopardizing their lives. This project is a one such ‘extra mile’, ‘extra step’ to give a cat more stimulation and a healthier, happier more productive life. Afterall the sad part is that indoor cats are dependent upon humans to give them most of their much needed stimulation.

    I don’t think I can build a structure like that due to our community restrictions but it does prompt me to think about creating a large window ledge where they can walk out upon.

    Thank you for sharing. Hats off to you for the good work!

    Janine

    Reply
    1. Donna   April 21, 2013 at 6:02 am  

      Thank you Janine. Our cats love their outdoor playground. It warms my heart that we were able to provide such a nice space for them. I think your window ledge it a great idea. Post it when you build it. I would love to see it.

      Donna

      Reply
  2. Yuliya   May 11, 2013 at 11:44 pm  

    I wish there were more people like you on this planet. Thank you for truly loving and taking care of cats!

    Reply
  3. D. Barton   May 16, 2013 at 4:52 pm  

    My father was never a pet person, but in his later years he and his wife had a cat or two and he built an out building to store wood for the wood stove etc. On one end he closed it off and made a room for the cats. He put in a wall heater, shelfs for sleeping or stalking one another and a cat door that went out to the cat enclosure He even put part of a down tree so the cats had a tree to climb! I wish I owned and could do the same here, we just put up a framed white vinyl lattice wall with a door enclosing our patio and made it as cat friendly as possible without damaging the exterior walls of our rental.

    Reply
    1. Donna   August 11, 2013 at 5:15 am  

      That is so nice! I love to hear that others care as much as I do about their felines.

      Reply
  4. Amanda Glamdoll   June 1, 2013 at 8:05 pm  

    I live in Atlanta GA where it’s warm enough to keep the windows open about 8 months out of the year. I have re-inforced the aluminum mesh screen fixtures on 3 windows so that My 5 cats are able to jump onto an extra-wide window sill and enjoy the abundant nature that surrounds My home.
    I enter and exit My house through a 11×13 ft screened-in covered deck.
    I normally kept the 2 doors on this deck wide-open because the door to the home was always kept shut… That didn’t stop repeated, brazen escapes by the cats though; it wasn’t until I had to go on My 6th frantic search & rescue mission that decided to keep one door of the porch permanently closed and keep the other one shut.
    The screening on this porch is typical fine nylon mesh material though. I removed the aluminum screen window panels off a couple of the windows that are never opened and used the screens to re-enforce vulnerable spots on the porch.
    I feel much more secure now that I don’t have to worry about a cat dashing between someone’s legs as they leave and becoming lost.
    I also use the newly cat-proofed screen porch to share time in the summer breeze with My kitties. They love supervised afternoons on the deck and so do I.

    Reply
    1. Donna   August 11, 2013 at 5:18 am  

      Awwww. That is fantastic! I know that my kitties spend most of the day outside. They just love watching the birds. I am happy knowing they cannot escape but can enjoy their natural habitat.

      Reply
  5. Michelle Trapani   July 9, 2013 at 6:20 am  

    I am in the process of creating one of these for my four kitties. My concern with having it always accessible is mice. How are you keeping mice from entering your house? My four think mice are just new friends visiting. Do cat doors keep them out?

    Reply
    1. Donna   July 10, 2013 at 4:11 am  

      @Michelle, the cat door is too high for mice to get to. Of course, it doesn’t prevent the cats from bringing things inside the house. When it rains I sometimes find a couple of worms on the kitchen floor. They’ve even brought in a praying mantis. Never a mouse – so far. The enclosure is such a wonderful gift to the cats. They spend so much time out there. My only regret is that it is not larger. :)

      Reply
  6. Sharon   August 8, 2013 at 8:59 am  

    Donna,

    Where did you buy your fountain in the enclouse?

    Reply
    1. Donna   August 11, 2013 at 5:20 am  

      I think I purchased the fountain at Home Depot. They were on sale so I picked one up for them. I would love to have some type of pond in there. It is a pain always having to fill up the fountain. A natural pond would be better. Maybe that will be my next project. :)

      Reply
  7. outdoor cat enclosures   September 3, 2013 at 1:07 am  

    Making an outdoor cat enclosures can make your cats overcome fear to people.

    Reply
  8. Jenna   October 14, 2013 at 10:08 pm  

    How much would it cost to construct this project for my 4 cats? :)

    Reply
    1. Donna   October 20, 2013 at 4:51 am  

      Jenna, If you build the panels yourself it would be much cheaper. I bought the panels and designed my own structure. The boxes on top were cheap – maybe $20 a pack. The walls I bought pre made here: https://www.cdpets.com/Products_Detail.php?ProductID=5

      Buying the pre made walls was worth the extra money for me. They are build with cedar and are ready to put together. Also, the door was pre made. It would be easy enough to do yourself though – if you’re handy. Personally, I didn’t want to mess around with it. If I had more land I certainly would make a much bigger structure. I’ve seen some really large structures showcased on the internet. Just do a google search for “cat enclosures” or “cat runs” and you should be able to get some great ideas. People really go all out for their felines!

      Reply
  9. Liz Facciolo   December 2, 2013 at 10:53 am  

    Were your cats outdoor cats before you made this? We are concerned that our indoor/outdoor cats may not use it because they are used to their freedom outside. What did you use on top of the shelves?? (where they walk) Do they go to the bathroom inside the structure?? Did you use anything on the floor like mulch or just leave the grass?? I have my builder coming today to discuss building a structure like yours. By the way I am originally from Levittown too!! (Cobalt Ridge) My son lives in the house I grew up in there. We moved to the Jersey Shore years ago. I would love to build something like this and hope our 8 cats use it!!!

    Reply
    1. Donna   December 7, 2013 at 8:38 am  

      Hey Liz. My cats were not outdoor cats; they are all rescues so they were outdoor cats as babies. For the shelves I use indoor/outdoor carpet cut to size and zip tied in. I put pine mulch (chem free) inside the structure to serve as a natural litter box. I just clean out and replace the mulch every so often – so it’s half grass, half mulch. Our cats love this structure. You can really get creative if you want. Heck, build it around a tree or a bush if you want. They just love being outside. Maybe someday I will add on to it to make it taller. Who knows.

      Reply
      1. Liz Facciolo   December 9, 2013 at 5:30 pm  

        My builder completed the cat enclosure this weekend. It is similar to yours but higher. We used the corrugated plastic on the roof. We’ve had so much rain over the weekend and it leaked where the structure meets the house. My builder did not pitch the roof but I noticed that your roof is not pitched either. Do you have a problem with the roof leaking when there is a heavy rain or snow?? My cats LOVED it when it was finished. They went right out until the water dripped down and soaked the ledge that is just outside the window (where they enter the enclosure). I’ve been told the roof should be pitched even if just a little. Do you have a problem in the winter when there is a heavy snow or rain?? Do your cats still go out?

        Reply
        1. Donna   December 11, 2013 at 11:14 am  

          Hi Liz. My corrugated roof is pitched just slightly. The 4 foot span is not covered at all so the weather gets in. My cats don’t care. They go out in all kinds of weather. They love the snow. Your cats might just get used to it.

          Reply
  10. Angie   January 23, 2014 at 10:33 pm  

    I LOVE this! I also have five house cats, and I have a decent area along the house in my back yard for a catio, with access through a basement window (finished part of basement, spare bedroom). My only concern is that the windows in our house are casement windows. I regret that. There have been many times we had the other kind. I’m not quite sure how to tackle that yet… it sounds like your cats have access to the catio 24/7? Just because I live in the country, and have lots of predators around, I would want to be able to keep them in at night.

    Reply
    1. Donna   January 27, 2014 at 4:16 am  

      Yes! They do have 24/7 access to the enclosure. The only time I deny them is during really bad storms, and that’s only because I’m not sure how the structure will hold up. So far, I have not had any problems.

      Reply
  11. Lauri G   March 1, 2014 at 3:37 pm  

    Donna – this is an awesome catio!
    One question – do you keep a litter box out there or have them come back inside?
    I want to do something like this but am not at all handy, so will be trying to find a builder who will do it for a reasonable price. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Donna   March 3, 2014 at 1:23 pm  

      Lauri, I put organic mulch in the catio. They do use it like a litter box but I clean it out. I replace it with new mulch periodically. I suppose you could put a litter box in there. It would have to be whether proof though. I like that they have a more natural litter box. I don’t mind cleaning it.

      Reply
  12. Marlyn   March 9, 2014 at 7:48 pm  

    For those who don’t have the space for an enclosure like this, you might wish to consider a product my hubby found online. It’s a cat window patio called a “Kitty Peeper” and fits into the window like an air conditioner. We’ve had it for two years now, and our two cats simply love lounging in it together, especially early mornings and night. It’s made by CWAA Crafts. Just Google Kitty Peeper and you’ll see their site.

    Reply
  13. Brooke   April 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm  

    Hi
    Love the effort you took for your babies.
    My cat was indoor / outdoor for 7 years.
    But after a cat fight and years or tick removal no more.
    He has a nice catio but I am planning to make it larger.
    I am going to extend his catio to go include under the nearly adjacent deck .
    What size fencing did you use for your walls?
    Is it 1 inch by 2 inch?
    Thank you
    Brooke

    Reply

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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