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A kitty enclosure for Tabitha the Houdini - many questions!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have a ton of questions regarding cat enclosures! I'm having a hard time getting one that Tabitha can't escape built - that's also large enough for her - and I haven't set it up yet, so need advice/guidance! Figured I might as well ask every question I can think of now.

1) I considered just a covered litterpan, but I am assuming it would be best to put it inside some sort of shelter to keep rain/snow/etc out?
2) Should I put the litterbox in a separate shelter than the actual shelter so the kitty doesn't have to potty where she sleeps?

Enclosure Size
1) Judging from her anxiety & behaviors now, being inside for the past 3 weeks, there is no way I can keep her in all winter. She's obviously not faring well outdoors anymore (frostbitten ears) - yet she's lived outside her entire 9 years of life. I need an enclosure I can pretty much lock her in all winter. So it needs to be fairly big, but just how big do I go?
2) Should I put a lid on the enclosure? Or for an escape artist can I get away with doing something else?

Enclosure Materials
1) I'm planning to use cattle panels (I believe 5' high & 20' long?) - and cover them with wire. Is chicken wire best?
2) Will a 5' panel be tall enough???
3) What would be most cost effective?
4) What gauge wire should I use?
5) Is there something else fairly cost effective I can use to build an enclosure?
6) What would be a material I could use that wouldn't be much of an eye-sore?

1) I will most likely be locating the enclosure in the grass - we have a riding lawn mower, so in the event I can't get into the enclosure with the mower, what's a good way to keep the grass trimmed down?
2) I live in MN - it snows here in the winter - so how can I keep the snow from piling up in the enclosure?

1) I'm thinking, the way the wind normally blows, that locating the enclosure on the east side of a building for shelter would be best. However, if I put it strictly behind a building, then that would limit her sunshine. Would I want to locate it alongside a building, or away from one?
2) What about putting it up around a tree or shub? Do I want "greenery" inside the enclosure? Obviously this will depend on many factors, but for the kitties sake - is it better to have shrubs/trees growing inside the enclosure?
3) Are there certain types of things I should avoid when looking at where I locate the enclosure?
4) We have "the red shed", which is where most of the cats are. They are fed/watered near this shed, and most of the shelter is located around it. I am considering putting up an enclosure in front of this shed. I would have 10' on the east side of the shed where I would put it - not sure how far out I could go, though. I could also go along the east/front & then around the north/side, back about 20' I believe? Thoughts? (I know, you probably can't imagine it, but what about making an "L" shaped enclosure somehow? )

1) This will be primarily used in winter. We have many outbuildings, however, most of them I cannot cut a hole into for her to gain access. Several have vehicles that come/go from them, so don't want to use those buildings. Another the other farm kitties use for shelter, so I don't want to take that away. Two sheds house "toxic" materials to pets. Then we have 2 doghouses, but again the other farm kitties use those for shelter so I don't want to take them away. Any suggestions for what I can use?
2) I have a plastic doghouse I could use, however, IMO it's not very warm. I could put a litterbox in it, though.

I know that's a lot to read - if you can answer even one question, that would be fantastic! Thanks!

ETA: I've been looking at this site for ideas!
post #2 of 10
I read through all of that...I probably won't even come close to answering all the questions but here goes....

For the shelter--I grew up in the Twin Cities area, and had horses. Any 3-sided shelters always had a north wall, opening on the south. So I would think something like that would be good.

My Dad built our indoor/outdoor cat a "cat house" that was super insulated when I was a kid. The cat house was in the garage, but still in the Twin Cities it got nasty in the winter. It was so that if Towzer was caught out overnight he had someplace warm. Dad also had a corduroy flap over the door so heat stayed inside. It was made with plywood, carpet, and I think carpet padding for insulation. I know it kept the cat warm.

Also, I've been browsing for a heated bed for my senior guy, and I saw one of those igloo type houses that is heated. I can't remember which website though. I just remember thinking "oh that's cool" and moving on.

For the litter box, could you build something that has easy access and just put a normal box in it? I just wonder if a totally outside kitty would use a hooded box. My Lola doesn't use them, she lived in the woods as a kitten before we caught her.

I hope that helps a bit.
post #3 of 10
Nat, I would discourage chicken wire as dogs and cats can easily chew through it if motivated.
Try hardware cloth instead.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
I've been googling for days now.

This website had other good links to cat enclosures.

I liked the top on this one, which is I believe the 3rd or 4th one down - it says "Sue"in pink above the pics of the one I like.

I would KILL for one like this!!

I've looked at something like this, as the ground where I *could* build one is slanted, but it's more like a "u" shaped dip.

Or else something like this, with a lid.

I will look into hardware cloth - thanks Arlyn! I need to look into where to put it, then figure out the shelter thing. I could *maybe* build it behind the old garage, and fence off an area inside the garage with access via the window.
post #5 of 10
I saw some at a cat show recently that were made from PVC pipe and flexible stuff that temporary fences are made from. It really didn't look too complicated. I don't know if this was the vendor or not, but they looked similar to this:
post #6 of 10
Hmm, none of my cats have ever chewed through the chicken wire of their enclosure, but I suppose it might depend on how big the enclosure actually is. We also buried the wire underground and covered the trench with gravel so the coons couldn't dig in and steal the cats food.

Nat, I use the plastic kiddy pools for litter pans. They work really well, giving the cats enough space to not make them feel crowded. I use Stall Dry instead of cat litter (it is cheaper in the long run, lasts longer and now comes with odor control)

The cats have lots of distractions inside, tunnels made from irrigation culverts. If you live in or near farm country, visit a manufacturer of irrigation pipes, they often have damaged pipes the farmers can't use, so they will be happy to donate it to you for free. At least that is what happened with us when we went to buy a culvert for the cats.

Our enclosure has trees inside, climbing ramps, two tunnels into the dining room window, an introduction cage, couches and chairs and rugs and lots of cat condos. It is 35'x18'x6' though and the only problem I have ever had is that the cat hair gets stuck in the chicken wire and needs to be brushed away. I do it on windy days and the hair flies off into the sunset.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
OK - we are up to the stage where I *finally* got my chicken wire!

Dad has 2 rolls on hand that are 5' high - so I'm just going to deal with it only being 5' high. I *think* they are 250' long rolls!

I need to figure out what to use as roofing, and I still haven't figured out where to put it. Mom's willing to give up one stall of the garage to fence in for them & then make an attached enclosure outside, but it could only be 22' along the side of the garage & then out 11' from the garage. And the ground is slightly sloped.
post #8 of 10
How many kitties, Nat? Because 22 x 11 feet sounds pretty large! Our RV is just 8' by 38', and your kitties would also have the inside space.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have fighters - so need A LOT of space. I have 7 farm kitties - with potentially more. I know it needs to hold at least Tab, Squish, Feen, & Cow. (Cow - Feen - Squish HATE each other - Squish & Feen have bad sight - so run into each other & fight - cow & Squish, well Cow just hates him. Cow & Feen are mother/son & LOVE each other - but also sometimes gang up on other cats)
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
OK - so final location is attached to the puppy shed. Which means it is now the kitty shed & the kennel must come down. Which means no more fostering puppies....which means no puppy fosters for the shelter. I have to put my cats first, though - as much as it breaks my heart to not be able to foster puppies (if at the shelter, they have a high risk of catching parvo).

There are pros & cons to this location - lots of brush & junk to get moved - but lots of space so I can make it big. They're on the edge of the grove, which concerns me slightly, so hopefully no issues with "wildlife" wanting in.
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