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Building Cat Pens and Runs

  1. #1
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    Jul 2013
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    Building Cat Pens and Runs

    I imagine this may be an issue for some readers. We had to go through this ordeal, personally, (purrsonally, I should really say) last spring to quickly house 5 ferals under imminent threat from construction on their former farm land.

    I have a lot of leaflets on this sort of subject from our own research at the time. I am not sure where all of them are, right now, we are not very tidy in this house. But I am going to go into the free fence possibility, as a starting point. That is the route we did go down, in the end, here. I do think, if you have the space, it is the most economical option and the nicest for the cats.

    Our initial idea was to have a fixed run - with wood and chain link pen, build off the garage, and to divided the garage to provide an indoor area for the ferals. I am talking about ferals here, in our own case, but this equally applies to all cats, where you want them to be able to have outdoor access, but not to be able to leave your property. This is a concern, these days, in some urban areas, where rules are being made about cats wandering about.

    If you have a back yard you do not want your cat to get out of, there is a product called a 'Purrfect Fence'. It is American, and there is also a UK distributor of it. This fence is virtually unclimbable to a cat. I will say virtually, as one Houdini did get out of ours. One out of 5. I believe in the overall statistics of these fences, he is more like one in a hundred, to have achieved it. We know how he got out too, and it was design flaw in our lay out, more than any problem with the fence itself, but he was one tough cookie, anyway.

    With my proven incompetence at posting links, I would just suggest that anyone interested in this Google 'Purrfect Fence'. In Canada there is no distributor, and to import a kit from the USA into Canada is costly, in terms of custom's duty. However there is a rival company called 'Deer Fence Canada'. They do modifications to a deer fence, to keep deer out of vegetable gardens, to achieve the same thing, a fence to keep cats in.

    Do not believe any advertising claims to the effect that these fences are easy to put up, and that a couple of cat ladies can do it in an afternoon. It is not that easy! It might be, in a very small, flat area with soft ground, or elsewhere if the two cat ladies are 6 ft Amazons with a lot of construction experience. In a larger area, with any sort of angles, and bends to go around trees and such, it is more complicated. But that said, you need the help of a competent handyman (we actually got helped by a guy who is a carpet layer, and he was VERY helpful) you do NOT need a qualified tradesman, such as a carpenter, charging you tradesman sort of prices.



    We got the cat fence materials for $2000, and have made a gorgeous, VERY large, run for our ferals with it. We were quoted more than that for the modification of the garage and to make a not very big fixed run off it, by a carpenter. The cats would not have been nearly as happy either.

    If someone is looking to make a small run, off the back of a house, into a small back yard, I would say this is 100% the way to go, for you and your cats. Your cost will not be nearly so high as our fence here is, for a smaller area.

    By the way, I do not work for 'Purrfect Fence' or 'Deer Fence Canada'. The instructions on the latter were poor and confusing. But it remains a great product. A cat proof fence is not any easy thing to accomplish.

    I will try to find my leaflets on other options. We explored every avenue before settling on the fence one. We saw a lot of good products. Some of them suitable even for apartment dwelling cats, and even without a balcony in an apartment in some cases. A lot of them are expensive, but I think with ingenuity a lot of people could make them themselves.

    I am not going to post links, I am bad at it. I am going to leave people to Google. If anyone else wants to join in on the thread and post links, or plans, or whatever, please do! I will try to upload some pics of our own cat pen though.

  2. #2
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    My hubby built a small one for one of our cats years ago, here's the thread where I mentioned it, and also a link to some other enclosure ideas...http://www.petforums.com/showthread....Cat-Enclosures

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha1 View Post
    My hubby built a small one for one of our cats years ago, here's the thread where I mentioned it, and also a link to some other enclosure ideas...http://www.petforums.com/showthread....Cat-Enclosures
    Hi Alpha,

    Interesting link you have on there showing all the different pens. I have uploaded two pictures of our pen here. My technical challenge for the morning!

    Do you still use the cat pen your husband built?


    IMG_0925.jpgIMG_0940.jpg

  4. #4
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    Beautiful yard, cats and very nice pen you have! No, that was many years ago, and we took it down, as we went for a loooong time without a cat, until we got Loki, around a year and a half ago. He's been pretty good about staying in the yard, it's fenced and he has lots of trees, etc. to keep himself amused. When we go camping, he comes with us and stays nearby, just like the dog. There's an album of camping pics on my profile page.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha1 View Post
    Beautiful yard, cats and very nice pen you have! No, that was many years ago, and we took it down, as we went for a loooong time without a cat, until we got Loki, around a year and a half ago. He's been pretty good about staying in the yard, it's fenced and he has lots of trees, etc. to keep himself amused. When we go camping, he comes with us and stays nearby, just like the dog. There's an album of camping pics on my profile page.
    I must look at your camping pics. Loki sounds like a very unique cat.

    Indeed, they are a handsome batch of barn cats! I was trying to tell you in a PM about Loki, which I sent to myself by mistake , that they are all descendants of a Russian Blue queen who someone dumped in the country. I guess there used to be a variety of cats over at that farm. But the Russian Blues seemed to be smarter and tougher, by the time I took over they were the only ones left. They were a lot easier to deal with than the average feral as they are so smart. Though on the down side it is a very nervous breed, even under optimal conditions. We have one really serious neurotic.

    They have a new picnic table in there now. That old home made one in the pic collapsed. So we got them a new, National Park style one. That is their sun deck. I seem to be having a tech idiot day today. I PMed myself instead of you. Now, somehow, this post has got into two font sizes, one microscopic. The mighty achievement of managing to actually post those pics has caught up with me!

    Arrgh! Font thing is still there in the preview. So I will post this before something else goes wrong! One of my butterfingers days, it would seem!

  6. #6
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    He is very special and dog-like. You're doing just fine with the posting, lol...you can't be any more computer-challenged than I am. The default font size is 1, so you may have accidentally adjusted the size mid-post.

  7. #7
    We are currently building a 24ftx12ftx8ft high enclosure that has been divided into two sections for males and females. Also adding 6 insulated, lighted and heated cat boxes, so they'll stay warm in the winter. This is constructed by many 2x4's and chicken wire. Has a roof and this winter I'll place plastic on the sides to help keep snow out. It's up against our sun room so this winter I can just open the window (screen removed) and flip the lid of the feeder box and put food and water in there for them. So far the whole structure has only cost about $1000.00.

  8. #8
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    That sounds like a nice big enclosure ProudmomNY, are you breeding the cats?

  9. #9
    No Alpha these are feral cats that have lived on our property over the past 7 years. Some wander off, some are injured or become sick over the winter. We've taken in 4 off them adding to the one we had indoors which brings our total indoors to 5. Plus one dog who gets along with them. He's a self appointed feline police. When they get into an arguement he'll run in between the two and stand there. I wanted to put an ad on a popular list online to give away the kittens but I heard that medical testing facilities will get their animals from that list. So I decided we'll just keep them all. Have them fixed and keep them safe. We told family it's a pet enclosure (ones that have asked) We're not telling anyone else to avoid cat drop-offs.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProudmomNY View Post
    No Alpha these are feral cats that have lived on our property over the past 7 years. Some wander off, some are injured or become sick over the winter. We've taken in 4 off them adding to the one we had indoors which brings our total indoors to 5. Plus one dog who gets along with them. He's a self appointed feline police. When they get into an arguement he'll run in between the two and stand there. I wanted to put an ad on a popular list online to give away the kittens but I heard that medical testing facilities will get their animals from that list. So I decided we'll just keep them all. Have them fixed and keep them safe. We told family it's a pet enclosure (ones that have asked) We're not telling anyone else to avoid cat drop-offs.
    Sounds all very good.

    Would be interesting to see some pics of it. Get them all fixed right away, if you can. See if there is a local Trap Neuter and Return program that will do it for you since it is a feral colony. How are you going to heat yours? We made our ferals a communal loft area in their shed with a product called a 'Hound Heater' in it. Keeps a small space a few degrees above freezing. We did not bother with light for them, apart from a small bulb in the downstairs of the shed. Mainly for us.

    If you neuter them, all there is probably no need to segregate by sex. Though it would be useful to have the facility to do so, if required. I don't know how many you have there, but if I were you I would just build two communal, well insulated boxes, waterproofed, with tar paper,or something like that, on the outside, and 2 inch styrofoam (sp?) lined if this is not contained within an shed, let them 'cat heap' for winter warmth. A very good bed is a Wiggy's dog bed. Survival sleeping bag material. They come in various sizes. It will reflect the heat back into the cats laying on it.

    If you put Hound Heater in each one they will not go below the freezing point.

    But you are going to be running a high budget on the winter heat, it you try to run six heaters in six cat boxes. Unless you have 20 or 30 cats to deal with. They do not need individual boxes, best to double and triple them up and more for warmth and bonding.

    Just ideas.

    Very good of you to rescue these cats.

  11. #11
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    This is one of the projects i intend to carryout early next year, a nice space at my backyard where my cats can play safely.

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