My current cats recently figured out our electronic dog door, so I’ve had to make some changes to keep my cats safe. I decided to build a two-story cattio enclosure to reduce hopefully their escape-artist urges.
I started with two of the boards where the forklift blades went in – and didn’t trim them – just left them at their natural width. I decided to make the depth of the cattio be 24″, and used some more of those bottom pallet boards that were broken/damaged (so they were just like a regular 2×4 – no cool arches). I then put four sturdy boards in for the corner supports and used thinner boards (like some of the 1×2″ boards from some of the smaller pallets) as cross-supports. I then floored it in pallet boards.
The next step: cool factor for the kitties. I built a 2nd story for them, and then below that little 2nd story floor is where we’ll put their cat box, so I enclosed the outer wall to provide a little privacy. I built a 2nd perch on the opposite side with just one wide board, and then I secured in a natural pecan branch that fell in my yard from my neighbor’s beautiful pecan tree. I stripped a lot of the old bark off, but otherwise left it, and the interior wood surfaces naturally for them to scratch. I did lightly belt-sand some of the surfaces that were too splintery but didn’t put a lot of effort in it.
I then built a door for the cat box area, again from pallet wood that I split to make approx 1×2″ wood strips, and mitered the corners, securing with wood glue and screws. I recycled some old brass door hinges from when we renovated our house and removed one door entirely. I used aluminum screening material and stapled it in, then tacked down some wood strips over the edges to protect little “toe-beans” (kitty paws), and to prevent them unraveling it and escaping!
The window-style latch was actually reclaimed from the Goodwill Clearance Center in Las Vegas – it was a child’s toy that was a little pressboard with many small doors/windows, and it had those little latches, hinges, and various styles of hooks (like hooks & eyes, door-chain latches, etc.), and it was ten cents for over twenty pieces of hardware I’ll be able to reclaim. I secured it with reclaimed screws from the house renovation as well. I screened in the remainder of the sides – and you can see the pictures for that. The back, since it’ll be against the house, was just sealed up with pallet boards.
The roof: I cut the front vertical supports about 2″ shorter than the rear to allow for natural water runoff. My husband had mentioned something about 1″ of drop for each foot, and I figured it was a good policy to follow, so the side structural supports between back and front of the cattio meant that I had to cut them at about 6 degrees angle (just using the # from my chop saw, so forgive me if I’m saying it incorrectly). I ensured that the plywood I used was cut to overhang how I wanted it to provide for shade AND weather protection (and honestly, I thought it looked cute like it had a little porch of its own). I used some plywood from one of the weirder pallets I found locally, and then covered the exposed edges with a rubberized adhesive strip for a weather barrier that I overlapped the edges with by approx. 2″. I added a drip rail along the front edge, although this will get tiny weather. I covered the remaining area with tar paper left over from when we re-roofed our garage and secured it with a few staples & a slap hammer (one of the funnest tools to use ever, haha). I was going to use traditional roll roofing material, but my scraps I had from the garage weren’t long enough. . . So what to do?
I used a lot of the trimmings and boards that were broken or split, and due to my table saw limitations, I had first to cut them down to less than 4″ wide, and then turned them up on their side and cut them in half. Some were naturally even narrower, which worked well since you’re supposed to alternate the seams on real shingles. I started roofing it from the bottom left corner, and pre-drilled them so they wouldn’t split, and used roofing nails to secure them.
I then used some “Power Grab” construction adhesive and secured the edge pieces, and used it to fill some of the cracks/holes/gaps (that’s the white stuff showing on the one close-up shot). It dries clear, and is pretty water resistant, and stands up to southern California exterior demands well. I will use some Tung oil on the roof material so I can maintain it routinely.
Then I used some old stain/sealer and coated the whole thing. I ran out of the dark brown color on the front (the boards sucked up the sealer like crazy as I used some of my oldest, nastiest, worn-out wood). This meant that I had to use a 2nd, similar stain/sealer on the backboards.
It’ll be installed on a couple of A-frames that I’ll build out of … You guessed it … Pallet wood and the little tunnel that’ll connect the cattio to my house will be installed and attached to a real cat-door to reduce the amount of bugs that may get in.
My cats should get to use it within a week. I’m excited!