How to build outdoor cat enclosures

Updated April 17, 2017

An enclosure for your cat ensures that it will enjoy all the benefits of the outdoors without the risks. It will be able to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and more exercise while being protected from cars, predators and other cats. Enclosures may be made from lattice, fencing or chicken wire. The possibilities are endless, and you have many options depending upon available resources and budget.

Make a list of features you would like to have in your cat enclosure. Do you want a kitty walk shelf? A scratching post or two? What kind of access do you want the room to have? Access could be through a window in your home or a cat door installed in a wall. Or the enclosure could be a free-standing cage outside with its own entrance gate.

Think about how free you would like your cat to feel and if you are comfortable with it coming and going as it pleases. What material do you want the enclosure to be made of? Lattice or chicken wire?

Measure the area where you would like to build the enclosure. Do this by estimating how much room you think would be suitable for your cat. The easiest choice is to use standard sheets of precut lattice or chicken wire. You can buy these precut sheets at any hardware store, and they are usually 1.2 metres (4 feet) tall by 1.8 metres (6 feet) long.

Using that example, place a tape measure down at a starting point and run it to an end point. Using the example measurement, each wall should be 6 feet long. With a can of spray paint or chalk powder, mark a line indicating each wall until you have a pattern of your enclosure marked on the ground. If you have your own measurements in mind, use the tape measure in the same manner, and mark each wall so that you have a pattern of your enclosure.

Figure out how many square feet you will need of either lattice or chicken wire, using your previous measurements.

Take your list to the hardware store. You will need enough 10-by-10cm (4-by-4-inch) posts to set at 1-to-1.5 metre (3- to 5-foot) intervals around your enclosure. If you have decided to make your enclosure of lattice, you will also need several pieces of lattice, a hammer and nails. Buy paint if you intend to paint the lattice.

For a chicken-wire enclosure, you will need about 1-by-1 metre (4-by-4) posts, a staple gun and staples, and lengths of chicken wire.

Obtain a post digger or shovel and concrete for setting the posts.

Purchase scratching posts, kitty walks and toys at a pet supply store. Be sure that the kitty walk can be properly attached to your material of choice by checking the brace types. Look for kitty walks that have a metal shelving brace. It should easily attach to the posts, or to the side of your home if you are building the enclosure as a house addition.

Dig a hole for each post according to your measurements for the area. The posts should be at least 1 metre (3 feet) apart but no farther than 1.5 metres (5 feet) apart to ensure structural stability. Place the posts in the holes, which should be slightly larger than the posts. Mix the concrete according to the directions on the package. Pour it into the holes around the posts, and allow it to cure for 24 hours.

If you plan on using chicken wire, place a 2-by-4 piece of lumber across the bottom and top borders of your enclosure. Nail them securely to the posts by laying the edges flush from one post to the other. Insert two or three 5cm (2-inch) carpentry nails through the board and into the post. The bottom border should be flush with the ground. Your chicken wire enclosure should now have the appearance of a wooden cube.

Nail the lattice or chicken wire you have measured to the posts. If you are using chicken wire, secure the edges to the borders at every other link to ensure there is no way for your cat to get out.

If you are building your enclosure as an addition on the side of your home, nail the lattice or chicken wire directly to the side of your home. Construct the other three walls to the posts extending away from the house.

Lay a piece of lattice across the top of the structure. Nail it from the top into the posts so that the roof is secure. Staple the edges so that each lattice edge meets a top edge. If you are using chicken wire, staple a strip to the posts and border across the top. Make sure that you staple it at intervals of every other link.

Cut away a 0.5-by-1 metre (2-by-4 foot) section from the lattice with a jigsaw. This will be your entry door so that you can clean the enclosure. Sand rough spots from the door, and screw one side of the hinge to the door piece and the other side to the lattice wall. Attach one side of the safety latch to the door and the other side of the latch to the lattice wall. The door should be able to swing freely, and the latch should be able to be secured tightly.

If you are using chicken wire, you should remove a 0.5-by-1 metre (2-by-4 foot) section of the wire with wire cutters. You should up-curl the edges of the wire so that there are no rough or sharp edges. Cut the door piece 2.5cm (1 inch) shorter than the door opening.

Staple plastic 2.5cm (1-inch) quarter-round moulding around the door opening and around the door itself. Secure the one end of the hinge to the opening moulding and the other end of the hinge to the door's moulding. Attach one side of the security latch to the door frame moulding and the other side to the door's moulding. Again, it should open and close freely, and the latch should secure tightly.

Place the additional kitty furnishings, such as scratching posts and kitty shelves, inside the enclosure. Gently push on the sides and top of the enclosure to ensure that everything is safe, and make adjustments as necessary.


Staple mosquito netting to the outside of your enclosure over the wire or lattice for insect protection. Be creative with your building, and feel free to add personal touches such as planters full of fresh catnip.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Spray paint or chalk powder
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • 10-by-10cm (4-by-4-inch) posts
  • Concrete
  • Post digger or shovel
  • Lattice or chicken wire
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Jigsaw or wire cutters
  • Plastic quarter-round moulding
  • Hinges
  • Safety latch
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