Cat run

Let us celebrate the return of photo goodness with photos of something old that I mostly already had pictures of.

This summer I built an outdoor run for my indoor cats.This was unquestionably the most ambitious build I had done yet.

tall outdoor cat run against the side of a house with two cats on an upper shelf

Somehow I managed to make it 1) stand upright 2) stand stable 3) fit where it was intended and 4) function as intended. To be honest this still seems like a miracle to me.

I built the frame out of 2×4 stud and waterproofed the crap out of it with Thompson’s. And the cats had a party in it that lasted all summer as I added more shelves and perches and cushy beds and a hammock for them. My Kreg Jig (I have the R3 version) came in really handy for making very strong and fairly easy joins when I put up shelves.

When the rains arrived I got the bright idea to roof it with fiberglass panels. However, it soon became apparent that even though I Googled I still didn’t have much idea what I was doing. Since the run is sheltered against the side of the house and we don’t usually get powerful winds anyway, and since I was scared of jacking it up, rather than install the panels permanently I decided to weight them down with bricks.

tall cat run up against the side of a house; there are lots of shelves in it and it has a fiberglass roof

Surprisingly, this seems to have worked okay. They’re not leaking at all. I like the idea that I can easily remove them in the summer.

I also took the opportunity to upgrade the sort of crude entry I’d made for the cats, designed and built in a moment of frustration during the initial build when I realized there was a gap I needed to bridge between the actual laundry room window and the back of the run. So on the outside, I framed out the tunnel sort of thing I’d built:

a framed entry through the window for the cats

And on the inside, I installed a cat flap.

a cat flap installed in a wooden frame, wedged in the opening of a window

This time around, I also made sure the entire thing was put together with screws (the white oblongs next to the cat flap are pocket hole covers) so that it can be disassembled to close the window for cleaning, or to repair or modify any part of it. In order to get the original build out of the window I had to grind through staples with my Dremel, not to mention using a hammer claw to pry apart the tunnel itself from that wooden board that closes off the rest of the window opening, and I don’t intend to repeat that.

The build that seals off the window now has weatherstripping and is as airtight as I can make it so the run can be available to the cats without the rest of us freezing our butts off. The mornings and evenings are chilly now but several cats are out there routinely to watch the birds (and the garbage truck).

a large yellow cat on a very high shelf that must have taken some agility to get to

Even the three-legged cat. How did he get over there?

15 thoughts on “Cat run

    • Hi Anna, sorry, no — this was a labor of love. If you can make a sketch with measurements and material specifications, you might be able to find a local contractor to build it for you. Good luck!

    • Hi, I didn’t want to drill into the siding so I built it to stand level and stable on some bricks next to the house where I put it. However, I also screwed one of the side beams into a strong stable fencepost that was right beside it. The site I chose is sheltered from high winds which made me pretty confident about it, and after over 2 years there haven’t been any problems. Hope that helps.

  1. Hi there – love this! am just wondering if you have any sketches/plan/drawings from when you completed this? I have twisted my dads arm to make me one like this but he is insisting on some sort of drawings haha. Thanks in advance – hopefully!

    • Hi, I didn’t do any sketches first, I measured the space I had available and worked from there. It’s basically a very simple framed box with a door framed in for human access, and the goodies were added in off the cuff. I highly recommend square/rectangular welded wire fencing over chicken wire because it’s much more secure and easy to tack down. Good luck!

  2. This is fantastic. I’ve been scouring the internet for ideas for my build, and yours most closely resembles what I had in my head. Two questions – 1. what are the measurements (l x w)? 2. How many cats do you have?

    I have four cats who were indoor/outdoor until one day my psycho neighbor threatened to kill them all, and just like that, they became indoor cats. They are losing their minds being stuck in the house, so I want to make sure they have enough space in their cat run, while not taking up my entire backyard 😉

    • It measures 5.5′ wide x 30″ deep x 8′ tall. Mind you, those measurements were tailored specifically so the footprint would match an existing flowerbed that was easy to level and left clearance for nearby gate, so there’s no reason it couldn’t be bigger with the space and budget (although I think vertical space is important because of cats’ need to climb, and they definitely prefer to hang out in the upper half). I built it for 4 cats. You might want to make your human-access door lockable given your situation. Good luck!

      • Just wanted to say a huge thank you for this blog post and for your response! We got ours finished this weekend. We still need to add more shelves and things, but they can at least get out there now!

        (It looks a little wonky because it’s on a hill and we haven’t figured out a good way to level it, but it’s getting the job done!)

  3. And I thought I was pretty smart but I bow to you! Beautiful job – You should go into business – I would hire you for one of these!

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