Outdoor Cat Enclosure/Catio – Part 3: HELP!

First, off, thanks very much Mom & Dad for all the advice you gave me after work – it helped me to talk it through!

Now I am here to ask my readers for help, since you all have done such amazing projects!  I’ve never worked with 2×4’s before, and have never built anything for outside, so I’m hoping you can help me answer some basic questions:

QUESTION 1:  Once my 2×4 frame is completed, do I stain & seal it, prime & paint it, or just leave it be?  It’s not pressure-treated.  I’m leaning towards stain & seal.  I just talked to my Dad and he concurs:  stain + polyurethane seal.  Do you agree?

salem maple plywood stain zar        zar polyurethane

My Mom suggested building a base out of pressure-treated 2×4’s so the enclosure doesn’t sit directly on the ground.  Thanks, Mom!

QUESTION 2:  What should I use for enclosing the frame?  Chicken wire?  Hardware cloth?  Something in between?  I was planning to use hardware cloth, but [and my Dad agrees] I think it will be hard to work with.  Too thick and hard to cut.  So now I’m leaning towards chicken wire.  If you aren’t familiar with hardware cloth, here’s what it looks like:

175b        175c

QUESTION 3:  Shelves and flooring.  I’m thinking EITHER solid pieces of plywood, OR lathing like what you’d find under a mattress.  Kind of like wooden decking but spaced a bit farther apart:

outdoor cat enclosure / catio plans

Using lathing/decking instead of solid plywood for the shelves & floor would allow for better drainage when it rains, and also make it easier to tie deck cushions on for the kitties to relax on.

I’m going to make a roof out of Lucite which I’ll screw to the frame.

QUESTION 4:  Any ideas on creating a door for the enclosure so I can reach in and collect stubborn cats or clean up puke or adjust shelf cushions?  I’m thinking something simple like a hinged frame attached to the middle portion of the enclosure, kind of like this:

outdoor cat enclosure / catio plans

It’s also going to have a hole in the top [the enclosure, not the door] for the eventual connector tunnel to the house.  But I’m worrying about that later since it’s not set in stone.

Thanks for any advice you can provide!

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4 Comments

  1. Jessica @CapeofDreams

    Do you need a floor? I would be inclined to just let them use the ground. Any wood in contact with the ground will rot even if sealed so you will have to raise it if you are going to put a wooden floor in. As for the hardware cloth or the chicken wire, ask them to cut it for you at the store. That will make it much easier for you. You might want to put a door on each level to make it easier to get the kitties if they are being stubborn.

    • Nine Dark Moons

      We’re afraid if we don’t have a floor they’ll find some way to dig out and escape. I’m going to create a wooden floor of deck slats, and the whole enclosure will be raised up on paving stones.

  2. Make sure the stain and sealer you buy is for EXTERIOR use (your photos show interior, which may be just because you have it on hand). I agree with your mom, raise the whole enclosure off the ground. Bricks would work well. Chicken wire is definitely more flexible than hardware cloth. I think it would hold the kitties just fine. This will be such fun for them! I’m impressed you’re building it yourself! 🙂

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