Published on April 6th, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Outdoor Cat Enclosure

Materials: Sten (old) shelves – use GORM

Description: We have 4 cats and live on a busy street. The cats go outside but I did not want to let them run free. We took two old STEN shelving unit from the garage and made a cat enclosure.

1. We purchased a cat door from the local hardware store. A friend created an insert for our dining room window with a piece of MDF wood. Using a router he cut out the area for the cat door and inserted the manufactured door into the wood. We raise the window enough to wedge the wooden piece with the door, in the opening.

2. We adjusted the shelves in the STEN unit, so they were staggered, (allowing the cats to climb up and down by zig-zagging, also cancelling the need to cut the shelves) then screwed the two units together side by side.

3. We measured the distance of the front of one cabinet and built a basic door – 2X4′s, chicken wire and some hardware. We fastened it to the “front”. (in case we had to get a cat out due to an emergency)

4. We built a “tunnel” – (a box with no top or bottom) turned it on its side so the cats could get from the structure to the cat door in the window without escaping. We screwed that into the STEN unit.

5. We purchased some chicken wire from the hardware store and wrapped the unit, stapling the chicken wire to wood where possible to prevent escape.

6. The unit was a bit short to line up with the window, so we set it on, and screwed it to a platform.

7. A bit of paint and a name – we call it a Catio and voila!

8. In the winter we remove the cat door insert and we are able to close the window.

~ Kate Wilke/Randall Seddon, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

46 Responses to Outdoor Cat Enclosure

  1. Julie says:

    cats LOVE to be outside domesticated or not. It’s inherent!! A safe outdoor enclosure is a fantastic idea as long as it is big enough for the cat to roam around a bit . The catio should also have appropriate roofing to keep dry from rain and snow.

  2. Anna B says:

    Very neat idea, but our 2 little furballs are going to be trained (to the best of our ability ) to be outdoor cats
    It just seems so cruel to have them locked up in the house when we have such a nice big backyard and a front yard which they try to get out to all the time, now that they have settled into their forever home with us:-)

  3. Snaillady says:

    To the “Anonymous” who thinks domesticated cats should run loose….the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is 2-3 years, the average lifespan of a house cat is upwards of 20 years. Domesticated cats kill thousands of wild birds every year. Cats who kill rabbits can, during certain times of the year, die of a disease known as “rabbit fever”. This isn’t difficult information to find…do some research. These are just a few reasons to keep the animal, who depends on your protection, indoors. Love your animal, make them a true part of your life and family.

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you for saying that. I have 6 oldies that love being in the window at our new house. I’m building them a safe enclosure fir them to come in and out as they please

  4. Beaufort says:

    Nice little outdoor cat enclosure. Aside from all of the other hazards for free-range kitties, I don’t trust other people from harming them. Some people do horrible things to some outdoor kitties on purpose. Good on these cat owners.

  5. dinnae says:

    some cat rescue and adoption agencies allow adoptions to INDOOR HOMES ONLY. no jokes.


    and you want a link about who recommends AGAINST free-roaming cats? how about the american vertinary medical association? https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Free-Roaming-Owned-Cats.aspx

    it’s not like the cats are in the catio 24/7. they go out there when they want to be outside. likely they have an entire apartment, house, townhouse etc to explore and enjoy. you people can’t see the forest for the trees.

  6. Leslie says:

    I’m in the States, and my 2 cats do not go outside. they love laying in the open windows. This is certainly a great idea to let them actually go outside, and still be safe.

  7. Anonymous says:

    We’ll be moving to a busier area in a few weeks, and this is DEFINITELY something we’ll be doing. Want to know the penalty of letting out cats outside ‘as nature intended’?

    Two cats killed in ten years by being hit by cars.

    One cat who nearly died, spending eleven days in the vet hospital, after she was bitten by a paralysis tick.

    One cat stepping on glass and spending nearly two months recovering, and nearly losing his paw from the infection that set in from walking around on a cut foot outside.

    One cat who’s a) had an abscessed tail after getting into a fight, b) getting another bite in the same area, which, thankfully, I spotted before it became abscessed because the area was shaved, c) another fight earning him a cut-up paw, and d) he’s in the vet hospital RIGHT NOW because the vet said he got caught in a fence or something similar and fell, and has a dislocated knee and severed tendons and ligaments, and he’ll be undergoing surgery tomorrow.

    Those last sets of incidents, with the two males? They happened in the span of FOUR MONTHS.

    So YES, we’re going to keep them safe from now on! ‘As nature intended’ resulted in pain and death for our cats, and if you actually CARE ABOUT THEM, then you’ll take any measure to protect them!

    And yeah, if that means ‘omg locking them in cages!’, then yeah, so be it. They can get fresh air and sunshine and space to move, and we can be relieved that they’re not going to get run over, get into fights, or get caught in fences. Better a sunny enclosure than a cage at the vet’s.

    Kate and Randall, sorry to get my rant on on your hack. I love the idea, and I think we’ll be doing some shopping around for Gorm shelves and chicken wire!

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed! Protect you cats while still giving them some fresh air.

      Also, if you think a catio is expensive, think how much you can save yourself in vet bills and heartache.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Great idea and I totally disagree with people claiming it’s cruel… going outside IS dangerous for cats and every vet would tell you this. I don’t know where you people live, but there are several dangers for cats roaming free – first, the cars – this is a huge danger. Second, dogs or other aggressive animals (maybe wild, depending on where you live). Third, cats may get diseases from other cats or other animals. Also cats can get trapped or get lost. Or be snatched by other people who think they’re lost.

    You people totally antropomorphise cats and imagine what things cats ‘enjoy’ and what not, like people who think it’s cruel to neuter animals because they can’t ‘enjoy sex life’. You completely miss the fact that cats are not humans and that they’re not wild animals, but domesticated, also they’re not fit to face dangers like car traffic. Some cats, in some places are ok with it and it’s actually due to owner’s what risks they take.

  9. Bill Dechau says:

    Nice idea! I will be doing the same!

  10. Cora Shaw says:

    What a great idea…I was looking at purchasing something but it was going to cost around $300.00 CAD. After losing our Russian Blue (hit by a car and we don’t live on a busy street) I have bee relooking at this.

    Thank you!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Good ol’ Rule 4 of the internet.

    Nice catio — good design. Thanks.

  12. Anonymous says:

    will think of how to make one for my kittens :) i would like a bigger Catio but the bigger, the harder to make…

    Ty for the DIY, it’s very cool!

  13. AngelCakes says:

    What a great solution to a very common kitty problem!! I bet they love it!

  14. Anonymous says:

    People have different ways to discipline their children, just like people have different ways to care for their pets. Everyone has their own opinion.

    This is a great idea to keep your kitties safe.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes and the Nation Socialist Party of Germany also had different ways and ideas on how a society should be formed and run. Unfortunately wrong is wrong no matter how your try to gloss over it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Horrified by cruelty of this this cat cage.

      • Leanne says:

        That’s funny. I live where they can run free (an acreage) and I have lost two cats to foxes and coyotes. We tried to get them in every evening but sometimes they would just hide under trees and laugh at us from a distance. Our neighbors have also lost many cats to predators. I have indoor cats now, so they will not have the fun of being torn apart alive by wild animals (I am sure the ravens, hawks and owls that are out at night also would love kitty for lunch instead of a bunny from time to time). So for heaven’s sakes, saying “The National Socialist Party” and wrong wrong wrong and “cruelty” are just ridiculous. BTW, we used to live next to a very busy street when I was small, and my dad made us a playpen outside with wood and chicken wire. We didn’t find it cruel, we found it fun to be outside and playing in the sun. And we’re all adults alive to tell of it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah letting them run free risking get hit by a car (as one example) sounds more humane…

      If we could all live in the woods that would be ideal, but we don’t and there’s too many animals in need of a home. So stop your whining jerks.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cats are not wild animals and cannot be let to run wild without endangering themselves. Not to mention how lovely it is to have my neighbours cats bury their muck in my garden.

      • Leanne says:

        Not to mention the birds and other animals. One day last summer my cat (who has now been eaten by a coyote or fox) brought in four different rodents from meadow voles to one that looked like a wee kangaroo rat or mouse, and a mole. It was so sad. Another time they crunched a whole nest of fledgeling robins… the birds were all left alive, but with their wings and legs all broken and mangled as they screamed. Yes, very nice to have cats running free outside as it is “less cruel”. not.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Here’s a thought. If you don’t live somewhere safe enough for a cat to live it’s life freely, happily and as nature intended, then don’t get a cat!!

    • Dafne Ink says:

      Is not that simple, now when we made cats domestic…there are too many, and they need care, food and we need their company. Leaving them alone is cruel.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, they need neutering and appropriate homes. Not loonies locking them indoors with the misguided impression that they’re ‘caring’ for them.

      Letting them out to run and play is love. Not locking them up. If people didn’t try to make animals fit their lifestyles, and just thought about the animal’s welfare before getting them, we wouldn’t have the welfare issues that we do.

    • Anonymous says:

      And what about rescue cats? Our two wouldn’t be alive if we didn’t have them. They seem pretty happy. Would they be better off dead?

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed a cage is just a cage no matter what pr fluff you spin around it.

  16. MyFuZZyButtZ says:

    I just think you should put a lock on the door to keep anyone from opening the door for “fun” or on purpose if you’re not home. Yes, the wire could be cut open, but that would require a tool and not as easy as sliding a bolt over.

    Good for you though, for thinking “outside the house!”

    • Anonymous says:

      I would definitely do that if they were open to the elements, but they are in a fenced yard. Unfortunately the fence doesn’t keep them in the yard – they still manage to get out to the street and into the neighbour’s yards, but it does keep unwanted humans out.
      We have extended it by two more units. Last year only the two white cats were using it, but this year the two others want access. Now there’s plenty of room for all. thanks for your comment… Kate.

  17. Zulaya says:

    When I first saw just the picture on the front page of ikeahackers I was a bit startled at cats being caged on a patio, but reading I thought this was BRILLIANT and well done. Nice job!

  18. Moontree says:

    This is wonderful. Not only for your cats’ well being, but for the well-being of local wildlife. Domestic cats destroy local songbird populations & spread toxoplasmosis when they are allowed to roam free outdoors.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been thinking about building something like this every since I read the NYT article about catios, but I’ve always thought it would cost too much! This is great inspiration!!

    Here’s the article if anyone hasn’t read it; isn’t the tree catio awesome?? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/17/garden/17catio.html?pagewanted=all

  20. Kelly says:

    Most vets advise you to keep your cats indoors for safety, not just for cars, but for other animals..this is a wonderful, safe option!

    • Anonymous says:

      Please provide a link quantitate statistical data required to validate having made such a statement.

  21. Anonymous says:

    This is a smashing idea – lovely that your cats get a taste of the outdoors without the risks associated with busy roads!

  22. majeral says:

    nice, glad you keep your kitty;s safe

  23. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate cat owners who go out of their way to ensure their furry creatures are safe. Thanks for sharing!!

  24. prue says:

    plumbing: and do they also have the right to be run over on the busy street these people live on?

    I think this catio is a nice solution somewhere between keeping cats inside the flat only (which I do and my cats seem perfectly happy to chill out on the balcony in the sun, but then I live on the first floor) and putting their lives in danger.
    Obsolete if you live in the country, of course, or in an area with little traffic. But otherwise this seems useful.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’d rather die a free creature than live like a caged one. I think all other animals would agree with me if they could talk.

    • cinnarose says:

      I’ve seen too many pets, some of them my own, run over by cars due to lack of supervisor/stupid owners. You are an idiot, and I hope you don’t own any animals.

    • Leanne says:

      Actually, not obsolete if you live in the country. I always had outdoor cats in the city (Regina, Montreal) and never lost a one. They all died of old age. But I have lost two in two years here, due to foxes, coyotes, ravens… not sure which got them. But now I have indoor cats and I see them mooning looking out the windows and wanting to go out the door…. so I am building them a big cat run with a cat door in the screen window.

      BTW, I think Plumbing wasn’t saying they shouldn’t be in the cage. I think Plumbing was saying they have a right to a nice cage, and getting to go outside, ie in it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Love your cat bird cage! IKEA RULEZ!!!

  26. plumbing says:

    Our kitten like other animals have the right to have descent cage. They also want to be free and play outdoors.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Great thing! I bet they love it!! That’s the best way to give kitties a taste of the great outdoors~ :)

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for taking the time and effort to protect your little ones. Thank you, also, for sharing a great idea.

  29. Anonymous says:

    This is awesome!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Would love to do this for mine.

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