How to Build an Outdoor Cat Enclosure

A cat enclosure is a way to let your cat outdoors but will keep it safe.

The first step is to select a location for your cat enclosure.  It can be free standing but that means you have to carry your cat back and forth.  A better solution is to build it next to your house, with either a door for your cat, or a window access.

You might want to build your cat enclosure under a deck, or enclose your deck to make a “catio“.  The space beside your house (between your house and fence in many cases) will also work well.

© by author's wife, our cat in a stucco wire enclosure

© by author’s wife, our cat in a stucco wire enclosure

Materials Needed for Building a Cat Enclosure

  • 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 Your Cat’s Enclosure

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, or stucco wire, held on by the staples. Stucco wire is heavier, and you will need to use the U-shaped nails from a hardware store.  I prefer stucco wire myself.  You can 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 Tips on Constructing a Cat Enclosure

  1. If you cannot do the work yourself, hire somebody.
  2. Cats should not go outside 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. Be 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.  Make sure your cat has water at all times.
  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 have just one cat a small area is fine, but if you have multiple cats, provide at least 6 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. Hardware cloth may be used around the bottom if you are worried about mice getting in.


Similar articles have been published by me on The Real Owner, February 17, 2008, and on Wikinut, August 29, 2010.