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Cat enclosure ideas

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone, I adopted a cat a few months ago from a shelter. He was living on his own for awhile, and he is very bored as an inside cat. I live on a 4th floor condo on a very busy street, so I can't let him outside. I do have a big balcony, but I'm afraid to let him out on the balcony because he is way too excitable. I know he would jump at a pigeon one day and go straight over the edge. Anyway, I have looked at a lot of different kinds of cat enclosures but many of the large, elaborate ones are quite expensive or require complicated installation. (Unfortunately I can't put up chicken wire or anything obvious around the balcony because of HOA rules.)

On one website, I saw an advertisement for a "modular cat enclosure" for over $200 which appears to be constructed out of those wire storage cubes you can get at Target or WalMart. You know, the kind that snap together with plastic gadgets at the corners. I have some of these same cubes in my closet and they look IDENTICAL to the cat enclosure in the picture. So I was wondering if anyone has tried to build their own cat enclosure from wire storage cubes. I wonder how sturdy they are? Could the cat pry his way out?

I've also seen suggestions to hang deer netting or even volleyball nets from hooks around the balcony (the nets can be removed to avoid trouble with the HOA). Has anyone tried this? Couldn't a clever cat get under or around such a net? It might be hard to fasten down every loose edge.

I've also thought about just buying a big pet kennel, but would my cat really enjoy it? He wants to dart around and explore, not sit in a cage (even a big cage).

I'm looking forward to suggestions!


post #2 of 15
I'm not sure how much of a help I can be, as I live on a farm and have outdoor kitties, but I'll try! The netting may be a good option, and I also think that a netted kitty playpen or window box that your cat can access from indoors may work. Here are some websites:
post #3 of 15
Given that you've got a balcony, I'd build an enclosure for him out there! There is definitely screening that works for cats, but I'd use it as part of the enclosure you make as opposed to trying to raise the "height" of the balcony stuff. I'll PM the person to ask her to post here what it is. I'm not familiar with the wire storage cubes you're talking about, but my guess is they'd work if they're quite sturdy. Inside our house we build quite complicated and large 3D "condos" out of boxes - up to three stories (three boxes) high - very mazelike - and they love playing around in there.

But I'm with you - I'm not sure netting around the balcony would work - I think they'd find a way up/out/ripping a way out where it meets the balcony.

Out there you'd want to create a fairly large space - you're right, a kitty would have no fun just sitting in a crate out there. Go as vertical as you can with ways for kitty to get "up."

Here are ideas - I know you don't want to buy:

It's from this page (a place in Australia that builds them for people):

Maybe there's some way to use cat-safe netting and inexpensive book shelves opposite each other with a space inbetwee and parts of the shelves cut out so kitty can easily go from one level to the next.... ?????????????

Good luck, and keep us posted!

post #4 of 15
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
There is definitely screening that works for cats, but I'd use it as part of the enclosure you make as opposed to trying to raise the "height" of the balcony stuff. I'll PM the person to ask her to post here what it is.
The cat screening that I've used is basically pet screening that you can buy at any hardware store. It's something like this: I have a cat that has busted through every normal screening material out there, but has never managed to break through this stuff. And knock on wood, my 95 pound dog has not gone thru it. But the issue you would have with it is that it needs to be mounted in some type of frame, otherwise, like you said, there could be nooks and crannies to crawl thru.

I had an outdoor enclosure for my feral cats that was basically a series of large dog kennel panels that were clamped together. It was made of welded wire. It might be too obvious for your balcony if you made it tall, and if you just made it waist high, you wouldn't be able to use your balcony.

I liked the picture that Laurie posted. The wire looks more expensive than normal welded wire and I bet it is screening material for bird cages.

Are you handy or do you have a handy friend that can survey your balcony to see what might work?
post #5 of 15
What about harness training? I've been toying with the idea of training one of my boys to use a harness and then tether him to a stake with a large amount of slack so that he can explore the yard but can't get get anywhere that could be dangerous to him (or the birds ) Maybe in your case you could keep the slack long enough to be able to walk the entire balcony comfortably but not be able to jump to the height of the railing?

That and once he is totally comfortable with the harness and lead you could also take him for "walks".

Edit: Forgot to mention making sure that he is only on the harness and tether when you can supervise
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
The picture of the enclosure that Laurie posted looks interesting. It looks like it might be made out of those adjustable metal shelves that you can purchase at any hardware store. You know, the kind that are made for garages and toolsheds. So they should be pretty sturdy. I could cover it with chicken wire or the Petscreens that Momofmany suggested. This might be an affordable, uncomplicated do-it-yourself solution! I like it!

I'll keep you posted with what I come up with....

post #7 of 15
Cool! Good luck - we'd love to see what you come up with!!!!!!!!!

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Okay, turns out those metal shelves are really expensive too. I'm not going to save any money that way.

BUT I found an iguana website (of all things) that has plans for building DIY outdoor cages out of PVC pipe.

Of course you'd need something really sturdy for a cat. You'd probably want to screw the PVC together and use heavy-duty mesh (like deer netting) that is really secured well -- otherwise the cat will just rip his way out of there. But from doing a little internet research, I discovered people build all kinds of stuff out of PVC pipe -- I had no idea! Apparently it can be sturdy if you do it right.

post #9 of 15
That sounds brilliant! I was actually just thinking of cheap wooden bookshelves that are open shelves and putting the strong netting around those - but this looks like it works too! Maybe the cheap wood bookshelves inside and cut out portions of the shelves so kitty's got vertical space inside? Probably cheaper than cat trees or something. I wonder if the wire bird screen is expensive.

post #10 of 15




post #11 of 15

I used those shelf grids to enclose my bird feeders to keep the squirrels off them.  But I used zip ties to attach them together because the "joiners" still leave a space and the squirrels were able to wedge their way in.  I made a frame from PVC - it is a shaped like a "T".  I drove a metal pipe into the ground and slipped the vertical PVC pipe over it.  The horizontal PVC was attached to the vertical one with a PVC "t" joint.  Then I constructed the box from grids, lowered it onto the PVC T frame and attached grids to the bottom.  I used small hose clamps to make hinges for the yellow grid, which I use as the door.  I keep the doors "locked" with two heavy duty paper clamps.  I had to cut the inside corners of the bottom grids to fit around the PVC.  The zip ties are perfect for attaching the grids together, quick and easy.  I cut most of them off but left a few tails for "perches."  I have had to replace a few because one squirrel learned to chew through them, the little creep.  The smaller birds can easily get through the grid holes but it keeps the jays, grackles and crows (and squirrels) off the feeders.


Anyway, you might be able to make a rectangular box out of PVC the size of your balcony, then attach the grids to it, leaving one grid off at the bottom of the wall facing the house.  That's where the cat can get inside the cage (maybe also use grids to make a tunnel to the cat door?)  The grids I used at only 12" x 12" each; the ones on catandcaboodle look bigger, so you won't need so many. 


You could also put a wooden cat tree inside the new catio, so the cat will have something to climb on.

post #12 of 15

You might paint the PVC a darker color to camouflage it a bit.  The white PVC would stick out, I think and maybe cause complaints from fussier neighbors.

post #13 of 15

Here is what I bought and will try on my balcony so this "indoor only" cat can get some fresh air and watch the critters (squirrels, birds, chipmunks and rabbit).


It is designed to be used on grass, but I don't want to take the chance of getting fleas.

post #14 of 15
That got really good reviews. I was wondering how it would be weighed down on a balcony, but some people said they used two heavy chairs, which is a good idea.
post #15 of 15

I've never had much luck with walking my cat, but tethering is great!  And MUCH cheaper than an enclosure.


Things to keep in mind for successful tethering:

1. Keep your harness SNUG.  Your kitty probably won't wiggle his way out of the harness just for kicks, but if he gets scared, he is likely to duck right out of it.  

2. Make sure there is shade. 

3. Beware sandy areas (and grass areas with sandy soil).  Sand fleas are everywhere in warm climates!

4. Keep the tether free of obstacles.  If your kitty gets stuck on something, he might panic and duck out of his harness. 

5. Don't panic if he panics!  If he slips out, don't run after him - he'll just run away.  Calmly call him to you (with or without treats) or casually walk over to him to put the harness back on.  


After a couple of sessions, your cat will come running when you say "harness"!  

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