And last (for now) and certainly least at 0.6 pound (but not least in our hearts), is our brand new resident, Baby Tiny! Tiny made his way into our home and hearts on April 17, 2007 when his previous owner (a neighbor down the street) decided he needed another home where cats were loved. However, shortly after his arrival at my front door the decision was made to draw the line at 15 rescues because of space constraints, and so I journeyed across the bridge to Indiana, where I knew of a no-kill shelter that was willing to take him.
Once the little guy was safely delivered and I was on my way back home, I was suddenly overwhelmed with horrible feelings of regret and sadness at having surrendered this precious little guy that the Lord had seen fit to entrust to my care. Of course, it didn't take long for Hubbie (yep, by this point in the story we have married) to see that this was not going to go away and that perhaps we shouldn't have been so hasty. And with his blessing, bright and early the next morning we were on our way back to the shelter to pick him up! And how glad we are now that we made that second trip. As with each successive child in a family, one can hardly remember what life was like before that child, and so it is with each new cat. Though tiny in stature, this little guy is SO big in heart that we cannot imagine what life would have been like without him, especially Sweetie and Fonzie who consider him their new b.f.f. (best friend forever)!
Building Dimensions, Materials and Sources
Overall Dimensions - 12' x 20' x 10'
Labor - One boyfriend/fiancé/husband helper – Not for sale
Roof – Because we wanted the most sun exposure for our cats, we used clear corrugated polycarbonate roofing panels Purchased at Lowe’s. Note: If you plan to walk on the roof, use something else. Though it has served our purposes as far as translucency, it is not terribly durable for walking on and it recently rendered us rather helpless during a rescue effort to retrieve Cutie (our only cat that still insists on going outside) from over 100 feet up in a tall maple tree nearby! Yes, this, too, will happen to YOUR cat without a cat enclosure!
Interior Shelves – Made from 2 x 12 untreated lumber, stained with Porter Paint’s best oil-base stain, and mounted so that the grain of the shelves will not cause them to curve up. Using treated lumber is harmful to your cats. Staining the untreated lumber before carpeting including heavily dousing the ends will help to extend the life of the shelves that are exposed to the weather. If your enclosure will not have a roof or some type of covering, I would strongly recommend using cedar wood for the shelving instead of untreated lumber.
Shelf Brackets – 10” x 12” fruitwood shelf bracket by National Manufacturing from $1.30 each (I purchased mine at Home Depot). These are plenty strong enough to hold the 2” x 12” ramps and shelving and the brown blends in with the deck stain very nicely.
Shelf Carpet – Purchased at Lowe’s - Watching more than one of my guys nearly slide off the shelves during a vigorous game of chase was reason enough not to skip this step. Boat carpet attached to each shelf with stainless steel staples, necessary to prevent rust from the rain water that blows in, works very well.
Floor Carpet – Purchased at Lowe’s – Heavyweight polypropylene green indoor-outdoor looped carpet (not easily scratched with claws or soiled with hairball residue). Though the cats didn't seem to mind the exposed deck planks, this was a personal choice to make my enclosure more sun porch like. Update: We have since removed this carpet because one of my Chihuahuas (yes, she too fits through the cat flap) found it tempting to urinate in the corner on the new carpet and we ALL know what happens when any carpet is once soiled with urine - a community TOILET! Thus, we replaced the wall-to-wall carpeting with a nice clean area rug and forever banished the doggie from the enclosure! Mission accomplished.
Wire – Two-inch square, 14-gauge vinyl coated weld wire purchased from W.A. Davidson of Jax, Inc., available in 100’ foot rolls of 36”, 48” and 72” wide. Don’t settle for cheaper quality wire; the cats will bend it and you’ll be sorry. Hint: When the wire is unrolled and cut to size for your enclosure, it will obviously be curling in the direction that it was rolled. We came up with quite an ingenious little way to fix this problem by using a small round cat scratching tower as a "rolling pin." We simply laid each panel out on our patio table, placed the cat tower on the wire, and then gently rolled it (but not too much) around the tower in the opposite direction, for a nice flat, curl-free piece of wire that was ready to nail up and much flatter against the wood structure.
WireStaples – Because of the thickness of the wire, regular staples will not hold it. The best thing I found for this purpose is plastic wire staples used by electricians for installing interior electrical wiring. Though the nails are not rust proof, the bit of rust that they develop is hardly noticeable against the black wire and nothing holds the wire better. They have two nails in each clip and once they are nailed in, nothing is getting those babies out of that wood!!!Theoretically, one could replace every nail with a rustproof variety but I wouldn't recommend this until you have an obscene amout of free time on your hands! So far, they are working just fine.
Fountain – Three tier cedar fountain purchased from Drs. Foster & Smith for $149.99. UPDATE: This fountain, though attractive and very restful when enjoying the enclosure with my cats, proved to be more of a nuisance than anything. It was difficult to keep on top of the cleaning and because some of the cats enjoyed drinking, bacteria was a constant source of worry for me. Then when the motor bit the dust after only one season, the logical choice seemed to be to remove it. A second factor in our decision to remove it was the water that continued to splash on the wood deck and the potential for rotting.
Doors – Purchased least expensive unfinished wood screen doors from Lowe’s, removed the screen with a carpet knife, coated the door with two coats of oil based paint, and replaced the original screen with the vinyl coated weld wire used on the sides of the enclosure. Regular screen will not hold up and would not be a safe choice.
Cat Door – Purchased from Hale Pet Door. Though more expensive as cat doors go (I actually used a dog door for the bigger size), I knew this door would get a LOT of use with my growing feline family and as it turns out, it's a very good quality door and I'm glad I didn't spare the expense. FYI, the hale door has sliding plexiglas panels that can be used to block access to the outdoor enclosure when necessary. And I recommend ordering the unit with the double flaps for the best draft-free weather protection.
Well, this ends our little tour for now and the story of 26 (updates to follow) lucky cats but more importantly, four luckier humans! For those of you who, like I, have pondered long and hard about how to accomplish a cat house of your own, below you will find a materials list to help you in your journey and hopefully save you the countless hours of research that were required to accomplish Sally’s Cat House! There are also plenty of links on the Home page to help you.
Thank you for visiting and most of all, thank you for taking the time to consider such a wonderful addition for your own cats. Trust me, it will be worth every penny!
And at last . . . Sally with Shorty and Mama, enjoying the fruits of her labor! Please be sure to sign our Guest Book - we love our visitors!
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