Picture of Build an All Season Outdoor Cat Habitat
[Early November 2012 - Mr. Max peeks into the house from the habitat]

It was in the spring of 2007 when our beloved Mr. Spanky (A.K.A. Houdini) escaped once again; this time by jumping from an open upstairs window. Fortunately a week later a kind neighbor responded to our flyer and we were reunited. Because he is an indoor cat, we worried about his safety since we live in an area that has many predators and occasional traffic that keep the neighborhood pretty clear of stray cats. Knowing his love of the outdoors, the escape finally brought me to the conclusion that I needed to provide a safe outdoor habitat for him and our other Maine Coons.

I searched for various outdoor cages and habitat systems but I could find nothing suitable at a price I was willing to pay, so I decided this was a DIY project. Over these last 5 plus years it has been a huge success for both us and our feline friends.

Step 1: Gathering Requirements

Picture of Gathering Requirements
[Late May 2010 - Mr. Spanky sleeps outside on a high perch in the warmth of a spring day]

The outdoor habitat needs to be:

1. a four season structure.
2. off the ground to avoid fleas and the urge to use this space as a litter box.
3. predator (fox, coyote and large bird) proof.
4. free standing, not physically attached to the house.
5. 24-7 accessible via a current window (not a hole through the house).
6. a fun space.
7. cleanable.
8. big enough for 2 to 4 large cats at the same time.
9. accessible from the outside through a lockable door.
10. a safe haven should there be a house fire.
11. not exceed $500 (this project was just at $500 five years ago).
12. relatively maintenance free.
13. escape proof (even for a Houdini).

... and so this project describes an approximately 8'x8'x4' outdoor cat habitat (or as we refer to it, the Catitat) that fulfills these requirements.

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katerlyn5 months ago

I have searched many times (ONLINE, to no avail!) for how to put a pet entry in casement windows, Thanks so much! And to think it was right under my nose on my favorite web site for making things for my cats!! I had purchased a screen pet door from amazon that I have not tried yet, I like your plexiglass idea better. THANK YOU! I have used closet shelving with great success so far...indoor and out...here is example of garage exit to the outside porch for cats.

KCSCAMP1 year ago

I sure need something for after I move my 'outties' 1000 miles....I have 3 'innies' that do not go out...never been in the yard....but I do have 3 outside born and raised 2yr olds that I refuse to leave behind when I have to move....they will come inside to eat and catch a nap...but none have seemed interested in using the litter box...maybe due to the 3 innies not letting them!

This is an idea....you did good!

Great catitat!

Nice project! Currently trying to think of some kind of "cat wing" for my parents house and you've given me a few ideas.
Mirime2 years ago
First of all very nice. One of our girls has a semi-attached greenhouse to go into for her "Mo time" and loves it! This with solid sides ie plywood would make a great chicken house for urban birds if you used the 1/2 inch hardwarecloth and poultry staples. I do have to agree with cassiadawn about the 1/2 in. wire due to many sad stories of our chicks vs. hungry racoons, newer chickenwire is too flimsy and keep an eye out for rusting as it will break there first. Also if you wrap the eadges of the wire around the wood aleast on the bottom it will add some strength to it. Otherwise I love and you 'Coons :D
DDMcF (author)  Mirime2 years ago
Thanks for the comment, and the reminder that I need to make an amendment to my closing remarks about the purpose of the enclosure.
suayres2 years ago
This is awesome! I'm going to have to get my hub working on a similar habitat for our five cats. If you're familiar with Jackson Galaxy (of "My Cat from Hell" on Animal Planet), be sure to submit your design to his website at www.jacksongalaxy.com --yours is the finest catio I've seen yet!
DDMcF (author)  suayres2 years ago
Thanks for the great suggestion. We don't have cable or TV so I was unaware of this show. It looks really really cool.
tjk19392 years ago
Great ible, lots of food for thought. My cat will love you.
DDMcF (author)  tjk19392 years ago
Thanks, and good luck to your project.
iasi132 years ago
Great work for all your great cats.
DDMcF (author)  iasi132 years ago
zzbb2 years ago
Great Project. Protect the cats from hazards and still hear the birds sing.
DDMcF (author)  zzbb2 years ago
Yes and I didn't mention the bird feeder is about 20 feet from the habitat, so the cats have a great time watching them and squirrels.
KurtHuber2 years ago
Very nice! I like the idea of a locking hasp, but I would mention that for all-season use, brass locks are best, especially if the enclosure should need to be unlocked in the winter (such as in the case of an accident).
DDMcF (author)  KurtHuber2 years ago
Thanks, that's a good tip.
Good job! Lucky cats...my kitty would be so happy if she could go "outside" any time she pleased. Great instructable!!!
DDMcF (author)  homesteadcat2 years ago
Thanks for the kind words.
theal8r2 years ago
Gorgeous kitties! From the look of their grooming you also take excellent care of them and I can see how much they love their habitat. Awesome ibble, very thorough and visual. Thank you for taking such good care of these beautiful family members, my 4 would be jealous if I would let them see this!
DDMcF (author)  theal8r2 years ago
Yes they are pampered cats. They became the "children" after we discovered we had an empty nest once again.
simi19752 years ago
wow! I saw a cat habitat at our local cat sanctuary and I thought it would be so awesome to have one of those. My cats are inside except my 12 year old cat who is fixed but unfortunately still sprays. Lately neighbors have seen coyotes out our way. scary! my cat is looking at "jail" time inside in a large cat carrier overnight for safety. I have been thinking for a while now how much less I would have to worry if my 12 year old was in a protected space and my other cats could also safely go outside, but did not have any ideas on how to build one. Thanks for making this instructable!
DDMcF (author)  simi19752 years ago
Glad you found this instructable. Hope your cats may get a chance for one too.
vbanaszak2 years ago
Your cat are georgous! I love your habitat. It is such a great idea. I see an opportunity to add a scratcher to the center pole with sisal. Do you ever see your cats anymore? LOL
DDMcF (author)  vbanaszak2 years ago
They really like being out there that's for sure. Thanks for the compliment on the cats.
reB572 years ago
I have constructed this often in my mind for my two cats...
DDMcF (author)  reB572 years ago
I hope you get a chance sometime to build it too.
bluejeannes2 years ago
What an awesome structure! Great planning and construction and a wonderful 'ible. We contracted for a whole screen porch onto our house just to keep our indoor-only cats happy. They graciously allow us to use it as well. It's nice, but way more expensive than yours! And thanks for the ideas on the PVC hammock.
DDMcF (author)  bluejeannes2 years ago
Yea I really wish we had a back porch or something. It's so nice you have that.
pattymadeit2 years ago
We, too - have a HOUDINI cat! haha So I know exactly what you are talking about. We finally added a very large screeened in patio to the back of our house, and the cats decided it was ok to share with us! Thanks for sharing your plans for others who want to make a safe place for their fur-babies!
DDMcF (author)  pattymadeit2 years ago
Thanks. Yea, you should see the look I get when I enter the habitat for maintenance. Like I invaded their space or something :)
chibimaddy2 years ago
Bravo! Way to love your cats!!
DDMcF (author)  chibimaddy2 years ago
Yes they do get pampered here. Our breeder calls us one of the best pet homes a breeder could ever want for their cats.
dogsgomoo2 years ago
We just got a cat that was given up by his former family and dedpite being too fat to run he really likes to be outside. We live in the burbs so in addition to cars we also have foxes, large birds and even coyotes in the area. There are a lot of "missing kitty/small dog" posters around. :( This is a great and really detailed ible. Given me a few ideas on how easy it would be to convert / extend some of our porch into a 'catitat'.
DDMcF (author)  dogsgomoo2 years ago
I also think it's healthy for them mentally to get outside as well. Good luck with your project.
hailster2 years ago
Great write up. I bet our cat would love something like this, she loves being outside but we don't take her out much because we have to put her on a leash and stay out there with her.
DDMcF (author)  hailster2 years ago
We occasionally put Spanky on a leash and "walk" him. If that's possible to go with a cat.
Wow. Really nice. And your maine coons are BEAUTIFUL!
DDMcF (author)  domestic_engineer2 years ago
Thanks so much.
gosphero2 years ago
What a great way to let all of our kittehs enjoy the outdoors!
DDMcF (author)  gosphero2 years ago
scoochmaroo2 years ago
What a fantastic build. Do NOT let my cats see this. We live in the top floor of a apt, and they will demand one that spans the entire height of the building.

A beautiful, lasting habitat made with lot of love. Thank you so much for sharing this here, and you've inspired me to try and build one of those hammock structures with PVC!
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