Outdoor Cats – Keep Them Happy, Keep Them Safe

Over the years I’ve seen some horrible HORRIBLE things happen to cats that are allowed to roam free outdoors. Because of this I’m a firm believer that you should keep your cats safe indoors at all times. But there is something to be said about allowing them to feel the grass beneath their paws, the feel of a cool breeze and the excitement of cashing all those flying insects that happen by, well there is an answer to all this. Wanting to allow my cats to experience the outdoors while knowing they were always going to be safe, I built a pen coming off of a basement window for them to go out and lounge in the great outdoors.

Now I am, but no stretch of the imagination, a builder but this proved to be so easy that I believe anyone could do it. In the end, as you see here, it came out just fine and for years my cats lined up in the basement as soon as I got home from work every day to go out in their “outdoor world”. This was built in my last home I owned but I will be doing it here in my new home soon enough.

While I’m sure there are better ways to describe how to do this, I hope this description and these photos give you a good idea on how to get started. A quick Google search will probably get you better blue prints for how to do this but here’s what I did.

  1. Using spray paint I outlined where the pen would go
  2. I dug out holes for the main posts 18 inches deep
  3. Dropped four 4×4 posts into the holes and filled them almost to the top with quick drying concrete (to show how new I was at this I first used mortar which didn’t work at all, how was I supposed to know?)
  4. When those dried I began assembling 1×2 and 2x4s all around to firm it up
  5.  I built a door on the side so I could go in there with them and more times than not used the door to chase them back into the house when I needed to.
  6. Building the ramp into the house proved difficult but managed to figure it out. I put the entrance to the pen right up to a window so I could control when they go out.
  7. Then I encased the whole thing with a sturdy green plastic screen (the next one I build I’ll use chicken wire along the lower section because I ended up having to repair lots of tears)
  8. I then planted “cat grass” inside and opened the window for them

Here is a set of photos to show you how it all came together, it may not be pretty but it worked and my cats loved it!



2 responses

  1. What an excellent idea! I’m inspired and will soon build one for my 6 cats too. Having some woodworking experience, I would recommend using pre-fabbed 4 x4 supports. Cementing the wood will deteriorate it quickly (moisture and lime in the cement). You can buy these at any home goods store and are fairly cheap. Simply bury them into the ground so that they’re level and then bolt your framing wood to them. They even have brackets that will keep the wood off of the cement, thus allowing to dry quickly with no long-term moisture and lime exposure.

    I’ll have to make mine tough enough so that my 4 dogs don’t tear it up, but your recommendation of using chicken wire will work perfectly. I think I’ll also add a strong guilatine door to keep out wildlife.

    What’s best about your post, is that it proves that with a little initiative, few dollars and a little time we can all keep our amazing cats safe and healthy without exposing them to the dangers of roaming free. I too have witnessed horrific “roaming cat issues” that have stuck with me for years. And being a strong wildlife supporter, it’s important to note that these enclosures will also protect wildlife from our cats too.

    Loving your blog, Scott. You’re a champion of animals on and off the field. Your sensible, intelligent and compassionate approach to all living things is one for all to emulate.

  2. Cheryl Bernoth | Reply

    That is very cool. We have 2 indoor cats at my house and 1 wants out in the worst way. I would consider something like this for him. He would love it!

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