Introduction: Cat Enclosure

Picture of Cat Enclosure

My parents recently got a third cat, and it became too much of a hassle to keep track of them outside so I decided to make an outdoor cat enclosure. This instructable will take you through all the necessary steps to create mine or your own cat enclosure. The cage is made up of a schedule-40 pvc frame,  plastic chicken wire (poultry fencing?), and some composite wood platforms.

Step 1: Make a Plan

Picture of Make a Plan

Start off by deciding how much space you have in the yard and how much your cats are going to want. Keep in mind that the pipe is cheap and that fancy fittings like the three way joints are what will rack up. I chose my dimensions, 7X5X3, because my cats love to climb and the length and width facilitated three levels of platforms that would fit in the shade.

here was my shopping list:

1.) 12 - 10 foot schedule-40 1/2'' PVC¤tURL=%3FNtt%3Dpvc%2B3-way%2B1%252F2&facetInfo=
2.) 8 - 3-way fittings (most stores have the third direction tapped but Lowes had the right ones in my town)¤tURL=%3FNtt%3Dpvc%2B3-way%2B1%252F2&facetInfo=
3.) 24 - T fittings¤tURL=%3FNtt%3Dpvc%2Bt%2B1%252F2&facetInfo=
4.) 36'' X 50' plastic poultry netting¤tURL=%3FNtt%3Dpoultry&facetInfo=
5.) ZIP TIES (100 - 150 will be plenty, cheap at dollar tree)

Got it all for $80.00

You might also need:

1.) a pipe cutter
2.) a marker
3.) tape measure

Step 2: Make the Frame

Picture of Make the Frame

Start off the build by creating the shell of the enclosure to get all the sides the correct length.
When cutting PVC you want to endeavor to get a straight cut, if you might not be to confident have plenty of sandpaper.
A note for when you are measuring, fittings add length to the pipe. To get the correct length on the pipe you have to measure to center. 
Which means you have to put the fitting on and measure your cut to the center of the fitting (most come with helpful notches).
However I knew that the 1/2'' fittings added 1/4'' per pipe so I measure accordingly (i.e. for the seven foot segments there are two fittings on either side, 3-way, so I cut them a 1/2'' short (1/4  + 1/4).

If you want to follow my plan this is what to cut.

1.) 4 X 6' 11.5'' 
2.) 4 X 2' 11.5''
3.) 4 X 5' 11.5''

Step 3: Support and Platforms

Picture of Support and Platforms

Next take it all apart and start cutting down the frame so the supports for the platforms can be inserted.
I apologize for the lack of pictures here, it started raining and lost focus.

So first you have to take the frame apart of course, the idea for this step is to take your long frame pieces and essentially cut space out for the fittings. My plan called for the length of the pin to be split up into fourths. To do that, take the measuring tape and mark off each 1 3/4' however I did it with fittings on the side (measuring from the center) to ensure the cuts wouldn't be off by a 1/4'' each time. With these marks in place, mark a line a 1/4'' left and right of each segment to allow the T fittings to not add length to the enclosure. once cutting the first pipe down you can use a piece as a template and just cut to match instead of measuring and marking three more times.

After the cutting this is what you should have:

16 X 20.5 inches

Step 4: Support and Platforms 2

Picture of Support and Platforms 2

After putting together the frame again (add T's to the smaller segments to get four 7' pieces) hopefully you can see where six more 5' ( 4' 11.5'') poles can fit in, they will be used now to hold some cross bars for the platforms. It is a similar process as the 7' pieces. Take them out, cut out a space for the T fitting and put it back in.

My plan called for three platforms spliting the distance from the ground, 0', and the highest the cats would want to be (away from the ceiling) 4'. With some wonderful math we get a platform every 4/3'. The platform is supported by 4 of the 5' poles which I will call legs. 

sooooo since each leg doesn't need a 3 spots cut out for each platform (they are like stairs) they don't need to be cut into equal portions like was done along the length.

Here is the cuts leg by leg:
1.) The first leg will be left as it is (to be used as a door later)
2.) The second leg will support half the bottom platform, cut a 1 1/3' piece but don't forget the 1/4'' less for the fitting, and then take 1/4'' off the longer (3 2/3') piece.
3.) The third leg uses the same bottom as the second, next take a 1 1/3' piece off the longer scrap (minus 1/2'' for the fitting on bottom AND top) and then take off a 1/4'' for the longer top piece.
4.) The fourth leg is pretty much the second leg but upside down! so just make four of the third leg.
5.) The fifth leg is the second but upside down, I cut this to match the fourth's top column but just making four of the second leg should hypothetically work.

To finish off the cross supports, take out one of the 3' frame pieces and use it to measure off six more of them, cut and put it together by now it should be feeling pretty sturdy but if you want to add in some more support go for it. I even considered using 45 degree fittings to add in some super strong triangles but it wasn't worth the extra cost as compared to just more straight across.

Step 5: Install Platforms and Wrap It in Chicken Wire

Picture of Install Platforms and Wrap It in Chicken Wire

My mother went pretty crazy on the platforms for this. She painted them for weatherproofing purposes (the minimum you should do) and then covered them in some outdoor carpet. To make some, just cut out some rectangles from a board of scrap composite we had laying around. Make sure the width is correct to lay on both cross supports, and screw them into the PVC once they were completed (paint and carpet).

For the plastic chicken wire covering, just take the roll of wire on the long side and toss it over the top to the other side, pull it taught and zip tie it all down. The long side will take two goes (and possibly a little 1.5' piece in the middle to close it off), after that all you will have to do are the small sides. On one side cut a flap out (a square without the bottom cut (I only cut one column strip free, it can be seen below)) which you can use to put the cats in, afterwards you can use many things to hold it up, I would recommend bungee ties.

Step 6: Finished!!

Picture of Finished!!
Don't forget to cut off the zip tie ends, and then move it to where ever you want it. To hold it down - don't worry the cats shouldn't be able to tip it - there are many ways. I used a flower pot stake and a tent stake to pin it down in four places. 


wolfmaker (author)2017-07-27

how does the net hold up i was going to use 72 inch by 100 foot 14 gauge 1 inch by 2 inch mesh galvanized welded wire

because I'm worried that the cat might chew through the plastic netting as she like to chew on fish string i found her chewing on that i took it way from her as thinking that not good for her. im going to make a 12 feet wide x 20 feet front to back with extra panel 3 feet behind the front panel for extra door so that i can go inside and not worried that the cat get out on the street open the first door close it then open the next door if she get out its ok she still in the cat condo. cat condo is what i like to call it and i might add some run in later around the top side panels of the cat condo so she can go up high and look around

Jared_Reabow (author)2013-07-04

who doesn't le their cat roam outside, seriously, a cat it a part wild animal.locking them indoors and in cages is like locking a dog in a cage 24/7

KristinS60 (author)Jared_Reabow2017-06-27

Cats are not wild they are domesticated animals. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is 3-5 years. The average lifespan of an indoor cat is 15-20 years. As an icu/ER licensed veterinary technician, I see the horrible condition cats come in when they get hit by cars, or abused, or are so sick too much damage has been done and they can't be saved. It's a cruel world out there. Cats are domesticated and should be kept inside unless under direct supervision.

As a veterinarian who tried to save so many outdoor kitties--or cremate their remains--I heartily disagree with leaving your cats roam outdoors. I used to before I knew better. Leukemia and cars claimed the lives of some of my dearest pets. Yes, they love to roam, but cars, disease, entrapment, cruel sadists who intentionally hurt cats or use them to train fighting dogs are very real dangers. In many areas--even urban areas--coyotes can be a real threat. They kill many outdoor kitties in San Diego as part of their normal hunting patterns. Build a kitty habitat. Save yourself some huge veterinary bills. Cats live longer, healthier lives in your indoor environment. Make it fun for them inside and out. And get them neutered for the sake of the offspring that will be killed in a shelter and the people who have to kill them.

shelbeeray (author)Jared_Reabow2013-07-06

Actually, cats are not wild animals. They have been domesticated for thousands of years. They live longer, healthier lives when inside and they tend to be extremely content with indoor lives. Having volunteered with an animal rescue for a few years I HATE it when people let their cats run loose (ditto for dogs). I've seen the results. Usuallly outdoor cats aren't even neutered, which results in large numbers of feral kittens who suffer from and die from easily preventable diseases, like URI. It is horrible, absolutely horrible to see how much "wild" cats suffer. They are not designed to survive on their own. On occasion one does, but it is a harsh and horrible life. it is inexcusable and irresponsible to let cats run loose.

katerlyn (author)shelbeeray2014-06-09

Very well explained! People need to be informed. Disease AND accidents AND death by coyotes. People need to be informed.

LesB (author)Jared_Reabow2013-07-05

Many people do not let their cats out. Bad for the cats, bad for wildlife, When cats are let out they become an invasive species in that environment and damage the bird population.

Letting cats out is not responsible citizenship,

pattiemelt (author)Jared_Reabow2013-07-05

Cats allowed to roam freely outside are more likely to encounter dangerous situations (fights, dogs, busy streets) that can injure or even kill them. They also are more likely to get fleas, ticks, and diseases, even if they have immunizations (which many outdoor cats don't). It has been proven that indoor cats are much healthier and live longer. And domestic cats are not "wild animal". Using the outdoor "cage" is a way of allowing them outdoors to enjoy the grass & some semblance of freedom while still keeping them safe. And cats sleep much of the time anyway so it's not a hardship on them.

I used to think the same thing.. and still do.. but after a neighbor figured letting his pitbull run free was also cool.. I changed my mind. Well, that and the fact his stupid dog attacked my cat and tore her almost in half. 3 grand later... she lived... and is stil alive, but she is an indoor cat now...

People who don't want their cat to get by a car, that's who.

RachelleL3 (author)2016-05-03

Can it be attached to the side of a house? We want our kitties to access their enclosure through a window.

kajredo (author)2016-04-17

Hi Looks great, how much does it weigh (to move to cut the lawn)? Do you use tent pegs to secure it to the ground? Thanks very much.

gam cad (author)kajredo2016-04-17

Tent stakes work great if the hook will get around the diameter of the tubing. Also, I don't try to pick it up on my own since the size makes it a little unwieldy, but it's light enough to easily drag across grass.

WendyK16 (author)2016-02-25

Ty! I've been wanting to do this for a while!

19kevers (author)2015-12-21

that is so c

VictoriaE4 (author)2015-11-08

just a thought, couldn't you use slip sling tee fittings instead of cutting down and inserting "T" fittings to add your supports for the platforms?

ErinW5 (author)2015-08-05

Thanks very much. Im going to give this a go.

tracy.obrien.92 (author)2015-02-25

Fantastic job with this how-to! Simple, straight-forward, humorous, lovely! Thanks!

kimvellore (author)2015-01-03

Forgot to add, if you use furniture grade PVC pipes they are UV resistant and so many choices for building clamps and connectors in a similar price range, the hinge is a great choice to add to make a easy door

For a local shop near you

or google furniture grade PVC.

kimvellore (author)2015-01-02

I built one after reading your instructable, thank you and my cats thank you too.

After building I found all the fittings that one could use to make this construction more easy and clean. The fittings are called furniture grade PVC fitting which is specifically used for construction projects like this.

This fitting

would ave been very useful to strengthen the structure after building it without having to cut the pipes.

The top penthouse is a challenge for the cats to get to so only the most adventurous one will get there. The first day the cats were a little scared but after a few days now they beg every day to go to the playpen.

I used the same chicken mesh under the carpet and used outdoor carpet so there will be no moisture trapped underneath to form mold. For the top most deck I cut out a old plastic table that was in the backyard waiting to be recycled. Will be adding some toy challenges for the cats slowly.

Here is a small list links to get fittings


jbyrd96 (author)2014-12-21

You say you only need 4 3 way fittings but I count 8 is that not right

gam cad (author)jbyrd962014-12-23

Haha yeah it's 8 sorry about that. Thanks!

crank_girl (author)2014-06-07

In the UK it's really frowned upon to keep cats indoors. None of the rehoming charities will consider letting a person adopt a cat if it is to be kept indoors, unless there are really compelling health reasons, ie flv. The general feeling being that if you live in an environment where it is unsuitable to allow a cat outside then you simply don't get a cat. Quality of life, mental and emotional wellbeing, are just as important as a cat's physical health.

AstCleDemEll (author)crank_girl2014-12-02

Yeah and in the US they think it is ok to declaw their cats - doesn't mean it is right. So long as you have plenty to keep them stimulated and have running space a cat will be perfectly happy as an indoor plus it is safer for them and they live longer. People are getting less tolerant of cats so can cause harm, they get run over by cars & get illnesses by fighting other cats. In Australia the majority of shelters do the opposite of the UK and will only rehome if the cat is going to be indoor.

UnholyBaggins (author)2014-11-11

Thank you for posting! I take care of farm/barn cats who were born & raised in the wild. They have virtually no desire to be indoors, and the only other option is going to the shelter to eventually be put down since they aren't "adoptable." This will allow me to introduce them to our acreage/sanctuary while they adjust to this location, instead of them being euthanized. For the record, they will ALL be spayed or neutered.

water rat (author)2014-10-23

I wonder how I could modify this for my pet rats? I would love to build an enclosure I could go into to play with them, as they are rescues from abusive situations & are much happier in their own turf.

bözden (author)2013-07-04

Free the cats please...

seankreynolds (author)bözden2013-07-04

Keep the cats away from cars, please.

It should be the other way around. Keep the cars away from cats, please. I have seen more drivers speed up their cars and intentionally run over cats. I should know it has happened to 2 of mine who was outside with me and chased a bird which cats do and was coming back home and that was when they were hit at different times in front of me.

LesB (author)bözden2013-07-05

Wrong! Letting cats run free is BAD for the cats, they encounter many dangers to their health and safety. Also they are a threat to the bird population. In many places it's illegal to let cats run free.

Falcongirl (author)2013-07-08

@api001 Change the sizes so it's 6.5'L, 42"H, 42"D. Then you could line it with 48" pet screen and hold it on with PVC snap clamps. Probably not the cheapest of solutions, considering the cost of the pet screen, but it'd be cat proof. Cheaper would be plain mosquito netting held on the same way.

roystonlodge (author)2013-07-06

Such a good idea. I've wanted to take my cat up to the cottage, but I'm always afraid he'll wander off and get into a scuffle with the abundant wildlife. This may be a solution.

HandyMan1959 (author)2013-07-05

Did you do anything with the platforms to weather resist them?

gam cad (author)HandyMan19592013-07-05

A layer of primer and paint as well as some Rust-Oleum never-wet. Then they are wrapped in outdoor carpet.

kaelby (author)2013-07-04

Looks like the easiest cat run I've seen and damn cheap. We've had a indoor cat who spent the first year outside so she'd really like to go out there (kept in because she's got short legs and always got stuck in next door picking fights with there dog and catching birds everyday:S). We've never had the time or money to make a run, but this would be perfect! She hates it in the summer when we're all outside and she cries to be out with us :(

kaelby (author)kaelby2013-07-04

Ok, turns out pvc piping and the fittings are much harder to come by and more expensive in the uk :( will keep looking

pattiemelt (author)kaelby2013-07-05

You can also use electrical conduit - there is a thinwall variety available in the US that might also be available in the UK. It's a little heavier, but not much, & more durable than PVC.

kaelby (author)pattiemelt2013-07-05

I will check that out thanks. I did find 21.5mm pvc overflow pipe and connections on a local plumbing supply centre website, I guess that would work?

pattiemelt (author)kaelby2013-07-05

That would work. It's a little larger diameter than specified, but that shouldn't matter.

dropkick (author)2013-07-04

I have one concern and I hope it won't affect you.

Years ago I built a sprinkler out of Schedule 40 PVC pipe. I hooked 80 feet of it together with a pulsating sprinkler head every 20 feet, and then attached to to the top of my side fence. I was able to water almost my entire yard with one go. It was wonderful.

When fall came I drained it and left it on top of the fence, as I had no way to store it, or even take it down. The next spring I hooked my hose to it and turned it on. Nothing happened. I looked for the problem, and what I found was that the PVC pipe had deteriorated so that the upper portion of it (that had been directly in the weather) would crumble with the slightest pressure.

I don't know what caused this, be it, sunlight, freezing temperatures, aging in the open, or just a bad batch of pipe. I do know that other people have used this pipe to build frames for green houses, chicken coops, chicken tractors, and many other things and I've never heard of anyone else having this problem. Even so I thought I should pass on my concern so you would be aware of a possible future problem.

Hopefully it was just a quirk and you won't have this problem.

pattiemelt (author)dropkick2013-07-05

Schedule 40 PVC is not UV-resistant so it doesn't last under constant exposure to sunlight. If you want something that will work for an exposed area like that, go over to the Electrical department and get the Schedule 40 PVC electrical conduit. It is available in the same sizes, but is rated for aboveground use since it is UV-protected. It's also gray which blends in with weathered wood (if that is what you have).

skinnyjake (author)2013-07-04

Poor cats

gam cad (author)skinnyjake2013-07-05

Well I don't know how everyone else would use an enclosure like this, but I made mine just to let the cats get outside for a couple hours (they are indoor cats). They enjoy the weather and eating grass so it is just a nice safe place for them. It is definitely not big enough for them to live in :( .

-A-N-D-Y- (author)skinnyjake2013-07-05

+1 especially as they were once allowed to roam free :( That's a tiny space for 3 cats, even my local pet store has a bigger space for kittens half the size...

seankreynolds (author)skinnyjake2013-07-04

Safe cats.

kathkins (author)2013-07-05

Great job! I wish I had seen this before buying a dog kennel for the kittens and cats I find and rescue. Dog kennel was about $200. I like the cost of your construction much better. Also, I like the idea of using plastic chicken wire. I didn't know they made such stuff. I'll check with Lowes next time I get into town.
I plan on taking down the cyclone fencing that makes up the dog kennel and replacing it with plastic. A much better idea. My only concern is that kittens might be small enough to get through those plastic holes. A few did escape from my kennel through the cyclone fencing before I added real chicken wire.
The plastic will make my cat/kitten enclosure so much lighter. I'll keep the metal frame, just replace the cyclone fencing.
Great work! And thanks.
By the way, for those who worry about cats and kittens being in a small confined space like this, it's far better and safer that they're in there than left out in the wild or near busy streets where they might get run over.
We live in the country and there are predators in the woods around our house, and although we allow our cats (we have 16) to roam around free, the new ones that we haven't had fixed yet and given their shots are fine in this type of enclosure.
We have covered cardboard boxes with holes cut out for them to play in and give them shelter against the rain and to offer them a place to hide whenever they feel like hiding.
Once again, nice work and great idea you have here!

api001 (author)2013-07-04

So, a question from Texas.
We have a real mosquito problem down here. Can anyone recommend a cat-proof netting mod that would provide suitable protection?

Thanks, y'all,

klewis10 (author)2013-07-04

How did you put your cats in it at first? Raise the whole thing up and put one in, one by one or did you leave a side that can be opened and then secured again?

This is great! I also have 3 cats and I feel so bad that they can't go out and eat grass and watch the birds. I made my awnings using pvc and I have seen furniture made from it also. Thanks for sharing.

gam cad (author)klewis102013-07-04

Well I tried both. For the door, I cut a slit, up and down, a foot long and slid the cats in and out of it. Then used bungee ties (originally carabiners) to hold it back together (it works and is easy to get the cats in). However, lifting the enclosure up is much easier to get them out.

kmbrmom (author)2013-07-04

Clever you! Now I have ideas for an indoor cat tower of pvc, which I hadn't considered before (weirdly).

Tipped on its side, this might also make a nifty movable urban chicken enclosure so they can forage for bugs without fear of...cats. I mean if you can keep them in, you can probably keep them out, right?

About This Instructable




More by gam cad:1996 Honda accord 6 X 9 rear deck speakers to 6 1/2 speakers conversionLego Nerf Arduino TurretLego Nerf Arduino Turret
Add instructable to: