[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

[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.

<p>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.</p>
<p>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!<br><br>This is an idea....you did good!<br><br>Great catitat!</p>
Nice project! Currently trying to think of some kind of &quot;cat wing&quot; for my parents house and you've given me a few ideas.
First of all very nice. One of our girls has a semi-attached greenhouse to go into for her &quot;Mo time&quot; 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 <br>
Thanks for the comment, and the reminder that I need to make an amendment to my closing remarks about the purpose of the enclosure.
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 &quot;My Cat from Hell&quot; 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!
Thanks for the great suggestion. We don't have cable or TV so I was unaware of this show. It looks really really cool.
Great ible, lots of food for thought. My cat will love you.
Thanks, and good luck to your project.
Great work for all your great cats.
Great Project. Protect the cats from hazards and still hear the birds sing.
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.
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).
Thanks, that's a good tip.
Good job! Lucky cats...my kitty would be so happy if she could go &quot;outside&quot; any time she pleased. Great instructable!!!
Thanks for the kind words.
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!
Yes they are pampered cats. They became the &quot;children&quot; after we discovered we had an empty nest once again.
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 &quot;jail&quot; 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!
Glad you found this instructable. Hope your cats may get a chance for one too.
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
They really like being out there that's for sure. Thanks for the compliment on the cats.
I have constructed this often in my mind for my two cats...
I hope you get a chance sometime to build it too.
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.
Yea I really wish we had a back porch or something. It's so nice you have that.
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!
Thanks. Yea, you should see the look I get when I enter the habitat for maintenance. Like I invaded their space or something :)
Bravo! Way to love your cats!!
Yes they do get pampered here. Our breeder calls us one of the best pet homes a breeder could ever want for their cats.
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 &quot;missing kitty/small dog&quot; 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'.
I also think it's healthy for them mentally to get outside as well. Good luck with your project.
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.
We occasionally put Spanky on a leash and &quot;walk&quot; him. If that's possible to go with a cat.
Wow. Really nice. And your maine coons are BEAUTIFUL!
Thanks so much.
What a great way to let all of our kittehs enjoy the outdoors!
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. <br /> <br />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!
Re: Apt Dwelling - I wish I had a photo to upload of my multi-level cat condo. We were on 7th floor of apt building, with biggest apt. in building - 10 ft high ceilings, 1,600 sq.ft. The cat condo was 8' high, 3 tiers, plus a micro sun deck on top (one cat seating.) It had cantilever decks to allow easy up/down access. Had to build that one &quot;in&quot; the apartment as we had no garage - wild running a circular saw in the living room.
Wow. That sounds amazing.
Thanks for the kind words. I won't tell your &quot;guys&quot; about this post :). <br> <br>I was thinking that a hardware store pvc and cloth DIY cat tower would be a great winter project for the &quot;kids&quot; as I should replace the store bought one soon.
Nice habitat! However, I feel compelled to mention that chicken wire does NOT make this at all predator-proof. Chicken wire is designed only to keep poultry in, not predators out. Dogs, foxes, coyotes, even cats if motivated enough by fear or hunger, can all rip right through chicken wire. If those foxes have a lean year and decide your cats look like easy enough prey, they'll get into that pen. For foxes, a much better solution would be 1/2&quot; hardware cloth. For large dogs and particularly determined coyotes, you might also want to put something heavier (livestock fence or chain link) around the bottom 4 feet. You'd also want to attach the wire with fencing staples (rather than the smaller hardware staples) to keep canines from grabbing the wire with their teeth and yanking on it until a corner lifts. Looking at the way your staples are positioned in step 12, it wouldn't take a lot of tugging to have the wire slip right out from under those staples - besides the risk of the staples just pulling out, there are a number of spots where the staples are just holding down a &quot;tail&quot; of the wire. If one pulls on the wire, it could slip right out from underneath with no joints of the chicken wire to get caught on the staple. <br> <br>Again ,really nice design otherwise! I've just had enough bad experience with chicken wire to know its limitations!
I suspect that if something starts ripping through the chicken wire the cats will be inside the house in a flash and upstairs under the covers with me. If it gets into the house through the cat door then it'll have to answer to my shotgun. However, you do make some good points. Thanks.
I imagine the cats would probably be fine because they can escape the pen, the problem would be the next time if you didn't discover the hole; anything that worries a hole in the wire would be through faster the second time! <br> <br>Obviously it's been working for you for quite a while, but it's good to have it out there that chicken wire isn't much of a predator deterrent for anyone else reading the instructable. :)
I really appreciate this instructable write-up. I also have had bad experience with chicken wire not keeping determined predators out. (many chickens lost to beast of one kind or another) I do think the raised base would help prevent some of the issues, but I would be using a reinforced panel on the bottom and some fencing staples. Means I would be swinging the hammer and that's always dangerous! My indoor only cats would totally adore this enclose, and you have the reasonable sized measurements, in that this uses standard lengths of easy to find building materials! And I like that you don't advocate attacthing this to your home in any way, other than the &quot;skirt&quot; pieces, which bridge the gap. I think next spring, my cats will be trying out my version of your &quot;catitat&quot;! Love it and Thank You!
I'm glad you found it useful and I know your cats will enjoy it.
Great idea. I fully intend to copy it for our Cats, with one &quot;But&quot;: I will not use pressure-treated lumber (for anything, that stuff is poisonous). I use Cedar for any outdoor projects that people or animals will be exposed to.
and a PS - you have Beautiful Cats!

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Bio: After 12 years at Kodak and 30 years at Xerox as a senior software engineer, I retired May 2012. My passion is art, photography and ... More »
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