My family and I recently moved back into our house after being overseas for 8 years. As it turns out, our renter had been very welcoming to all of the neighborhood cats and our backyard has become a bit of a cat vacation spot. We love cats, however our youngest seems to be allergic. We wanted to make sure when the cats visit (or get locked out) they have a warm place to relax, especially in Winter (We live in Ontario, Canada and it can get cold....)
I took this opportunity to also teach some of the local kids some basic building skills, cat care, and the responsibility of owning a cat. I also decided to use only basis tools (as the kids were around). I had a look through Instructables and the web and found a couple of projects that I believe I have improved upon, but please let me know if there are improvements to be made to my version. Thanks to feiheck (cat house), pdjinc.com (cat house), MacGyver9 (cat condo) and mazzupappa (cat shelter) for the inspiration
The other bonus of this build is that 90% of the materials I had laying around from our recent renovation work which meant this project was very affordable.
Step 1: Materials and Help (many Little Hands Make for Lots of Extra Work)
I started out with four little helpers, but as time went on and word got out, it swelled to 9. The kids were aged 5 to 10 and, at some points, attention and focus was tough, but for the most part, they were all really engaged. The only power tool the kids were allowed was the drill. But all hammering, drilling, measuring, (insulation cutting) was done by the kids. I also purposely made mistakes so the kids could troubleshoot and solve the problem(s)
1/2 inch plywood (6X4)
3 pieces of 2X2X8 for framing
Assorted screws and nails
1/2 inch insulation board (water and mildew resistant)
2 cat doors (reclaimed)
Solar lights (not yet installed)
Step 2: Pre Cut the Panels
I pre-cut all the panels the day before. The house measures 38 inches long by 18 inches wide/high. this may seem small but it turned out perfectly for one or two cats.
Step 3: Start Building the Frame
We drew out a rough plan for the frame and had the kids measure everything for cutting and instillation. It was a challenge teaching them about fractions of inches, but in the end they got the hang of it.
Step 4: Framed Up and Door Cut Out
Once the panels were framed up, we traced the cat door to make the necessary cut outs
Step 5: Assemble and Sand
After the walls and floor were assembled, we added some small legs (to keep from getting wet) and filled and sanded any deep crevasses. We also sanded all the edges to get rid of any rough or sharp edges.
Step 6: Paint
The kids took turn applying some leftover outdoor paint (they were most upset that I only had white paint. Maybe next year we'll paint it again).
Step 7: Keep It Warm
We used some 1/2 inch insulation board to line the inside of the house. This was very easy to cut and is all pressure fit and snug. As you can see one of the cats was more then eager to help.
Step 8: Cut Out Opennings for Doors
After placing the insulation panels inside the cat house, we used the cut outs as a guide to cut the insulation. We also added a piece to the roof to make keep in as much heat as possible.
Step 9: Add the Doors
Next we installed the two cat doors. The reason there are two is mainly for the safety of the cat. If an intruder (raccoon) enters, the cat(s) will have a way to escape. I also decided to put one on the side rather then the back to help prevent a draft. These doors also have transparent flaps, so some light will get in.
Step 10: Water Tight
We added some weather stripping to the top so that when the lid is on, it will make a nice weather tight seal.
Step 11: A Roof Over Their Heads...
Almost done. We next attached the lid/roof with two hinges at the back and to latches in the front to help keep the lid on tight.
Step 12: Something to Lay On
Finally we added some straw so the cat(s) can make a nest and add some extra heat. For you city folk, hay is not straw. Hay is a wet food, and can develop mold and in certain conditions combust. DO NOT USE HAY. The straw should also be changed after the winter.
I also placed a towel on the bottom in case the cat kneaded the insulation.
The Cat house is also under a covered deck and south facing which should help with keeping the heat in.
Step 13: Some Extra Thoughts
This was a great project for me and the kids. We all learned something and the cats are loving it. I think I will add some solar lights to provide some added comfort to the cats. I plan on making another one soon, but am going to try and make it from some old pallets.
Overall, the kids had a blast (some attention issues) but they all learned something new that they can use in the future and learned the importance of looking after their pets.