Outdoor Cat Safety: Building a Cat Enclosure

You want to let your cat out, but you don’t want it hit by a car, or fined for leaving your property. So what cab you do? You can build a cat enclosure.

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! As cats are brilliant climbers, roaming is not an easy thing to control. Some people will harness train their cats, which is great IF you have the time to supervise, if not a properly built cat pen or enclosure is your next best answer.

My cat – note I have used stucco wire.


Best Location for a Cat Enclosure

You do not want to have to carry your cat in and out several times a day, so the location of your cat enclosure 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. Lastly, extending it behind your house will work well if you do not have a better situation. You need to be able to use an existing window for the cat to use to enter and exit the enclosure.

Materials Needed

  • 2×4’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
  • Landscape Ties – optional
  • Astro Turf – or outside false ground cover – optional.

How to Build a Cat Enclosure

You will want to construct a frame out of the 2×4’s. It should be no taller than 6 feet. Make a gate for you to be able to enter if you need to. Cover the whole thing (including the top) with chicken wire, held on by the staples. If you use stucco wire it is heavier, and you will need to use the U-shaped nails from a hardware store.  You may choose to use Landscape ties at the bottom, or a 2×4. The ties being heavier and longer lasting, and should prevent any animal digging out – unlikely in cats, but worth considering.

Other Considerations

  1. If you cannot do the work 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 other unaltered animals.
  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. You need to make sure the cat section is not 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 you provide shelter from the hot sun, and rain.
  9. The entry window can be left open for the cat to come in and out as it pleases.  If you do not want to leave it open all day make sure the cat has food and water when outdoors.
  10. If you are going to leave the window open hang a piece of cloth or lace to keep insects out of your house, or get a proper cat flap. 
  11. You may wish to put a rug inside your house for the cat to first step on when it comes in.
  12. Astro Turf, or fake grass, works well for areas under decks, if you leave this area as dirt it will become a giant litter box.
  13. If you only have one cat a small area is fine, but if you have multiple cats, provide at least 10 square feet per cat.
  14. Make the place interesting with logs, and rocks.  Cats especially like to be up high so a small table will be great for them.  As well put some toys into the cat section for entertainment value.
  15. Check regularly for signs of damage that need repairing, in the fall, clean leaves off the top.
  16. Even cats kept in a cat enclosure should wear safety identification.

More Links on Cats and Cat Care

Cats:  The Basics

Risks for Cats who go Outdoors

Introducing a New Cat

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Republished by me at Full of Knowledge

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User Comments
  1. R J Evans

    On August 21, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Great article – thanks!

  2. Belle Dob

    On June 17, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Way to go Mark :-)

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