Sunday, 11 September 2011

Building the BIG outdoor cat run

Pixie Kitten said: "Can we have a bigger cat run please?"

Please build us a bigger cat run!
It had been a while since we built our original cat run and it was time to take the plunge and build our two cats a bigger and better cat run to give them much more space in their secure enclosure.

At the moment we have a cat flap, cut into the side of the conservatory, which leads out into the cat tunnel. The tunnel takes our cats down the side of the garden and opens out into their existing 6' x 6' cat run which is joined onto the garden shed.

The plan is to cover the whole of the patio and garden, between the conservatory and the existing cat run, with a big pergola/cage enclosure. This area is about 6.5m x 5m and we wanted the whole enclosure to be about 7' high so that we could also walk freely within it.


We couldn't find a ready made pergola just the right size (thank goodness... they are quite expensive!) so we were faced with building one to fit the area exactly.

Cat Necklaces and Bracelets by Silver Animal Jewellery
Cat Jewellery by Silver Animal Jewellery
Couldn't face the prospect of digging holes and concreting all the posts in so we got a local landscape gardener to build the main wooden structure and I have got to say he was really good. He listened to all our ideas and plans and kept asking questions at each stage of the construction to make sure that we got it the way that we wanted. I helped him a lot by making him loads of cups of tea and holding his shovel when he wasn't digging!

So, anyone in the Wetherby/Harrogate area wanting a good landscape gardener: MJH Landscapes, Matthew Humby 07725 310692 - you won't be disappointed.

The Supporting Posts

We wanted to put a roof on the cat run, covering the patio, so the posts around the patio were 4" x 4" so that they could take the weight of the roof plus, perhaps, a load of snow in the winter!



The main supporting posts for the cat run
The main supporting posts for the cat run
The main part of the cat run would have no roof so we could get away with less substantial posts. We wanted to keep the original cat tunnel, which you can see running along the bottom of the fence:



Cat run supporting posts
Cat run supporting posts

The Cat Enclosure Woodwork

It took the whole day to concrete these upright posts in, and then on the second day the wooden rails were attached, which would add strength to the structure and to which the wire mesh would be attached.


The main wooden structure of the cat run
The main wooden structure of the cat run
We tried to keep the "woodwork" to a minimum because, unlike a pergola, we didn't want the actual wooden structure to be a feature and stand out.  However, over the patio, we needed support for the roof so we needed several supporting roof joists.


The roof supports over the patio
The roof supports over the patio
This next photo shows the cat run from the other end of the garden and you can see how the new enclosure completely fills the area between the conservatory and the cats' existing run (behind the three conifers just to the left of the shed).


Side view of the new cat run
Side view of the new cat run
The cat run ended up being an "L" shape - the widest part being over the patio and extending out to include the path, with the longest part running down the garden towards the shed.

Securing the Cat Run

Once the main wooden structure was built (thank you Matt Humby!) we then just had to add the roof, the wire mesh, make and fit three doors and then prowl around like a cat looking for, and blocking up, any ways to escape!

There was obviously going to be lots of wire mesh. As with our previous cat run, we used 2" square wire mesh which is far more substantial than chicken wire and you can pull it really tight and straight; without it bending or going out of shape. However, we also wanted to create some shelter from the wind and rain so, along the back of the cat run (at the right of the following photo), instead of wire we attached a bamboo screen which lets light through but does block much of the rain (the wind always seems to blow from right to left!) and adds a bit more privacy.


Secure Outdoor Cat Run
Secure Outdoor Cat Run
The bamboo screen is quite flimsy but we secured, it with battens, to the main wooden frame and it is quite strong enough - the cats even climb up it - see photos below.


Bamboo Screen at the back of the Cat Run
Bamboo Screen at the back of the Cat Run

The Doors in and out of the Cat Run

The whole idea of this new cat run is that our girls can be let out of the conservatory door into their secure enclosure but when we are not around, they can still get out of the cat flap, along the cat tunnel, into their old run and then through a cat sized hole - into the new run.  Obviously, our conservatory door opens INTO the cat run, so we needed a way to get out of the enclosure into the rest of the garden!  We made doors as a 2" square wooden frame and then covered that frame with the wire mesh, pulling the wire mesh really tight with a claw hammer and securing it with 3/4" staples. The tension in the wire really adds strength to the doors which fasten with bolts inside, and a hook and eye on the outside - gotta keep the girls safe! One door opens onto the path and the other opens onto the rest of the garden. We have a third door which opens down the far side of the conservatory (for the window cleaner!). To add further wind/rain protection to that cosy, sheltered, end of the patio, we made the third door from a strengthened checkerboard fence panel. ALL the wire mesh was attached using 3/4" staples.

The Roof on the Cat Run

Over the patio, we wanted to create a sheltered "human" area with a roof and sheltered side. We would have loved to have had polycarbonate roofing sheets (like a conservatory roof) but they are hugely expensive so we just used white PVC corrugated roofing sheets - a bit "car-portish" but hey, cheap, and it keeps the rain off!

We didn't think it was mecessary to cover the whole of the open part of the cat run with the wire mesh and, instead, opted to just enclose the top with a narrow strip of mesh all around the edges. However, our girls love climbing up the mesh walls and, whilst they would have to be contortionists to somehow manage to jump/climb upwards and backwards to get out, we ended up covering the whole of the open "roof" area with a very fine fruit tree mesh.  This is almost invisible and a cat could easily tear through it but it just makes us feel better!


The top of the Secure Cat Run
The top of the Secure Cat Run

Cosy Corner of the Patio

We, as well as our girls, LIVE in the new cat run - well, we do sometimes go inside the house! We wanted to make a really cosy and sheltered area at the end of the patio so we used a fence panel at the back (continuing on from the bamboo screen) and then a small half sized fence panel at the side - just to add that extra protection from the elements. You can also see that checkerboard fence panel door.


Cosy Patio Corner - for Humans!
Cosy Patio Corner - for Humans!

The Finished Cat Run

Wire and screen attached, doors hung, roof on, all gaps and holes secured with wire mesh and/or bits of checkerboard fence panel and... well, ok, it's not really finished yet but our girls are out there playing in safety - in and out as they please! We have yet to paint the wire mesh black, as we did on our first cat run, this makes the wire far less noticible. We are also going to build a series of high-level walkways, shelves and other interesting places for cats to explore and play in. Oh... we HAVE created a cat scratching post by wrapping some thick rope around one of the main posts - they love that and often run from the far end of the enclosure and throw themselves up onto the rope covered post - brilliant fun!


The nearly finished cat run
The nearly finished cat run

Inside the Cat Run



Patio in the Cat RunInside the Cat Run
Patio in the Cat RunInside the Cat Run

Cats in the Cat Run


Night time shot showing Tigerlily climbing the bamboo screen!

Pixie Kitten exploring the AcerPixie Kitten in the Cat Run
Night-time flash shot showing Tigerlily in the new run and Pixie Kitten in the old run, behind

Other Kit-Bits!

The beautiful colours in Pixie and Tigerlily's coat were the inspiration for the new range of CharmBreeds Cat Jewellery - bracelets and necklaces representing your cat's breed and/or its unique coat colour. The range includes: Siamese, Bengal, British Blue, Tabby, Black and White and, obviously, the Tortoiseshell Tabby

Our girls' antics were also the inspiration for some of the designs of other cat jewellery from Silver Animal Jewellery - great Christmas gifts for cat lovers!

1 comment:

  1. This is much more than we need, but it looks great. We only need our girls locked up when we go away for two days and our house is tented for termites. You have given me some ideas. Thanks for so many nice pictures.

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