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HowtoBuildaCatCage

IsaacW.Foraker
Copyright2003IsaacW.Foraker
TableofContents
DisclaimerforHowToBuildaCatCage
Introduction
1.RequiredTools
Tools
RecommendedTools
2.Materials
3.Tips
4.Cuttingthebasecorners
5.Buildingthefloor
6.Buildingtheframe
7.Installingthewheels
8.Installingsometile
9.Buildingthelongshelf
10.Buildingthetopshelf
11.Buildingthebottomshelf
12.Buildingthetopdoor
13.Buildingthebottomdoor
14.Buildingthelid
15.Finishingup
A.AfterThoughts
B.Feedback
Abstract
Thishowtodescribesonepossible
modelforbuildingacatcage(orKitty
Condo,assomeliketocallthem).
Thecagepresentedintheseplanswill
be4'wideby2'deepby
approximately4'4'tall(dependingon
thesizeofthewheels).

DisclaimerforHowToBuildaCatCage
Inthesesuehappytimes,Iamcompelledtodisclaimresponsability.Pleasebearwithme.
Theauthorprovidesthefollowinginstructionsfreeofcharge.Theauthorprovidesnowarrantyforthe
accuracyoftheseinstructions.Theauthorisnotresponsibleforanydamage,injuryordeaththatmay
resultfromuseormisuseoftheseinstructions.
Thiscageisintendedforstationaryuseonly.Donotmovethecagewhilecatsareinit,orinjurymay
occur.

Introduction
Thishowtodetailsoneplanforbuildingacatenclosure.Ifyoudonotfeelcomfortablemakingyour
ownmeasurementsandcuts,thishowtoisnotforyou.First,alittlebackground.
Ihadadilemma.MywifeandIagreedtofostersomekittensuntilthelocalrescueagencycouldfind
homeforthem,butwedidnothaveakennelforthem.Agoodsizecatcagecostsanywherefrom
$300to$500,andthat'sjustabittoomuch.
IdecidedthatIwouldbuildacage.RunningimmediatelytomynearestInternetsearchengine,Iwas
disappointedtofindverylittlehelp.Severalpeopletalkabouthavingbuiltacatenclosure,butIonly
foundonesetofplans.Timeforplan"B".
IbegantovisualizewhatIwantedinacatenclosure.Ithadtobeabletofitthroughadoor,beon

wheels,beeasytogainaccessto,andbeeasytoclean.Ifoundascrap
pieceofplywoodinmygaragethatmeasured4'x2',anddecidedthat
wasagoodsizeforthefloorofthecage.Therestoftheplansarebuilt
aroundthis.
MyonlyqualificationforthisprojectisthatIhavewatchedafewtoo
manyepisodesofHomeTime.Theinstructionsthatfollowdescribe
4'x2'x4'highenclosure.Inthepagesthatfollow,Isharemy
experiences,includinghowIfixedmymistakes.

Chapter1.RequiredTools
TableofContents
Tools
RecommendedTools
Youshouldalreadybefamiliarwithhowtouseeachofthesetools
beforeyoubegin.

Tools
SafetyGoggles
EarplugsorEarMuffs(ifyouusepowersaws)
Gloves
WoodPencil
4'straightedge(3'isokay,buthardertowork
with)
TapeMeasure
Cuttingblade
SawHorsesoraworkbench
Asquare(trianglelookingruler)
WoodSaw
HackSaw
Hammer
ScrewDrivers
StapleGun
Pleantyofstaples
Pliers
CClampsand/orQuickGrips

RecommendedTools
WoodGlue(forsecurejoints)
ElectricDrill(cordlessisgood)withscrewdriverbits
MiterSaw(Savesalotoftimeandgivesyounicesquarecuts)
Firstaidkit
Stronghandsoap(especiallyifyouuseglue).

Chapter2.Materials

Allofthematerialsyouneedshouldbeavailablefrom
yourlocalHomeDepotorLowe's.Remember,itmay
beagoodideatobuyalittleextra,incaseyoumakea
mistake.Manyofthesestoreswillallowyouto
returnedunusedmaterials.IputanestimateofwhatI
paidforthematerialstogiveyouanideaofwhatto
expect.
102"x2"x8'boards$1.86ea(1.5"x1.5"acutal,
suggest1extra)
21"x2"x8'boards$0.89ea(.75"x1.5"actual,
suggest1extra)
*4'x8'x1/4"plywoodalreadyhadscrap,est.$10
4'x15'chickenwire$17(Ihadtobuy25'because15'wasnotavailable)
161'x1'selfadhesivetiles$0.29ea(suggest2extra)
**52"castors$3ea(wheelsthatspininanydirection)
BoxofStaples$2.67(foryourstapler)
Boxof21/2"$3nails
Boxof21/2"woodscrews$4(Ilikeselfdrillingmasonryscrews)
Boxof11/2"woodscrews$4
2pairsmallhinges$1.67ea
1pairmediumhinges$2.29
4latches$2.86ea(1fortopdoor,2forbottomdoor,1forlid)
***Somewoodtrim(optional)
****Paint$15(optional)
*****Screen(optional)
*Manyhomeimprovementstoreswillcutyourwoodforyou.Thisisareallygoodideaasfarasthe
plywoodgoes,especiallyifyouneedtofityourmaterialsintoacar.Eitheryouorthestorewillneed
tocuttheplywoodintoa4'x2'piece,4'x10"piece,then22'x1'pieces(cuta4'x1'piece,thencutthat
pieceinhalf).Thatwillleaveyouwitha4'x4'2"piece,whichyoumaywanttokeepforyournext
project.
**Thecastorsareoptional,butrecommended.Ifyoudonotplanonevermovingyourcage,youcan
saveafewbucksandgetrubberfeetinsteadofthewheels.
***Woodtrimcanmakeagoodlipforshelves,soit'sharderforthecatstoknockbowlsoffofthem,
andalsoforcoveringtheedgesofthechickenwireontheoutsideofthecage.
****Theseinstructionsdonotcoverpainting,soifyouwouldliketopaintyourcage,youareon
yourown.
*****Ifyouareplanningtokeepanopenlitterboxinthecage,itisagoodideatoinstallscreen
aroundthebottomofthecagetokeepthelitterfromsplashingalloveryourfloor.
Soyouarelookingataround$100to$125dependingonwhatyoubutandsalestax.

Chapter3.Tips
Readthroughalltheinstructionsbeforebeginning.
Makesureyoureviewthe"Afterthoughts"chapterbeforeyougettoofarintotheproject.Ifyouwant
toaddanyofthefeaturesImention,theywillbeeasiertoaddbeforethecageistogether.

Usethepicturesofthecompletedpageasareferencewhenyouarenotsurewhereashelfordoor
shouldgo.
Thisdoesnotneedtobeasoloproject.Thingsmaygoalotsmootheriftwopeopleworkonit
together.
Useyoursafetygoggles.Youneverknowwhenastraysplinter,dust,orchickenwiremighthityouin
theeye.
Measuretwice.Cutonce.
Anelectricscrewdriverordrillwillmakethingsgoalotfaster.
Putadroportwoofwoodglueonjointsbeforescrewingthemtogether.Thiswillhelpmakethecage
moredurableandstable.
Makesurealljointsarescrewedtogethertightly.Ifthereisagapbetweenthejoints,removethe
screwandtryagain.
Keepyourcagecleanforahealthycat!

Chapter4.Cuttingthebasecorners
ThefirstthingIdidwastocutsquaresoutofeachcornerofthefloor
board.Thesemeasurementsassumethatyour2"x2"boardsareactual
1.5"x1.5".Ifnot,youwillhavetomakeyourownmeasurements.
Thiscutwillallowthe2"x2"cornerboardstoattachthroughthe
plywoodfloortotheboardsunderthefloor.
Onyour2'x4'pieceofplywood(that'sfeet,notinches),measurea
1.5"x1.5"squareineachcorner.Markthesquarewithawoodpencil.
Checkyourmeasurement.Asyoucanseeinthephoto,Igotitwrong
thefirsttime,whenIthoughtthe2"x2"boardswereactually2"x2".
Cuteachcornersquareoutwithahacksaw(orjigsawifyouhave
one).Aftereachcut,measuretomakesurethecutwasbigenough.It
isagoodideatotakea2"x2"board,andfititintothecorner,tomake
sureitsitsflushwiththeedgeoftheplywood.Iftheboardisabit
sunkenin,thatisokay.Iftheboardsticksoutbeyondtheplywood,
youneedtoincreaseyourcut.
Afteryouhaveallfour
ofthesecutssquared
away,youwillbeable
tobeginmeasuringfor
yourfoundation
boards.Keepthe
cornerpiecesyoucut
out!Youwillneed
themlater.

Chapter5.Buildingthefloor
Youshouldnowhaveasheetof
plywoodwithfourcornerscutout.If
youhavea4'straightedge,youcan
seehoweasyitwillbetomeasure
prettymuchanythingyouneedfor
thisproject.
Inthisstep,youwillbeattaching
boardstothebottomofthefloorto
giveitenoughstrengthtosupportthe
weightofthecage,cats,and
accessories.
Youwillbecutting2"x2"boardsforthisstep.Youwillrequireapproximately11/48'boards.If
your2"x2"boardsarenot1.5"x1.5",thenyoumusttakeyourownmeasurements.Wearecutting
thesebeamsbasedonthethefloorbeing48"wideby24"deep,minusthe1.5"foreachsquarecut
outofthecorneroftheboard.
Cuttwo(2)45"beamsoutofthefirstboard.
Cutthree(3)21"beams(youshouldbeabletogettwofromthefirst2"x2",andthethirdfroma
second2"x2").
Afteryoufinishcuttingthebeams,
youarereadytoassemblethefloor.I
highlyrecommentusinggluewhen
attachingthebeamstothefloor.Place
alineofwoodgluealongtheedgeof
thefloorbeforeyouattachabeam.Do
notusetoomuch,oritwillseepout
andmakeabigmess.

Nowplacethebeamontheedgeofthefloorwhereyouhaveputalineofglue,andusetwoorthree
clampstoholditinplace.Theclampswillholdthebeaminplacewhileyouscrewthefloortothe
beam.IfyouareusingaCclamp,itisagoodideatousescrapwoodbetweentheclampandthe
floortopreventtheclampfromdamagingthefloor.

InsteadofCclamps,IamfondofusingQuickGrip
clamps.Theseclampslockintoplaceasyousqueze
them,andhaveaprotectiverubbermouthinsteadof
rawmetal,soyoudonotneedextrawoodtoprotect
whatyouareclamping.Comparatively,thequickgrip
clampsattachinacoupleofseconds,asopposedtoa
minuteortwooffussingwithaCclampandscrap
wood.

Onceyouhavefirmlyattachedthebeamtothefloor
withclamps,turnoverthefloorandattachthebeam
tothefloorwith1.5"woodscrews.Youwillbe
screwingfromthetopofthefloorintothebeam.I
suggestsix(6)screwsforeach45"beamandthree(3)
screwsforeach21"beam.

Onceyouattachthebeam
withscrews,removethe
clamps.Youshouldhave
somethingthatlookslikethis.

Forthemiddle21"board,measuretothemiddleofboth45"boards.Thisshouldbe22.5"inches.

Don'tforgettolayalineofgluebeforeattachingthe
centerboard.

Screwthe21"centerboardtothe45"sideboardson
eachsidewith2.5"woodscrews.Itisagoodideato
visuallyverifythatthescrewwillgoalltheway
throughthefirstboard.

Turnthefloorassemblyoverandpreparetosecurethefloortothecenterbeam.Measuretothe
centeroftheboard,whichshouldbeexactly2'ifyouareusinga4'widefloorboard.Drill1.5"wood
screwsintothecenterbeamfromthetopusingthecentermeasurementasaguide.

Thecenterofthefloorshouldlooklikethis.

Nowstandupyourfloorassemblyandlookatthebottom.Ifitlooks
likean"8"onadigitalclock,thencongratulations.Youhave
successfullycompletedthefloorassembly.

Chapter6.Buildingtheframe
Nowthatthefloorisdone,wecanstartbuildingtheframe.Youwillneedtocutsome2"x2"boards
first.Again,ifyourboardsarenot1.5"x1.5",thenyouneedtotakeyourownmeasurements.
Cutsix(6)4'beams.Basically,cutthree(3)ofthe2"x2"x8'beamsinhalf.
Cuttwo(2)45"beams.
Cutfour(4)21"beams.

Aftercuttingyourbeams,attachthefirst21"beamto
thecenteroftwo(2)4'beamstoforman"H"shape.
Placeamarkat2'intoeach4'beam,andthatiswhere
thescrewshowgo.Screwtheboardstogetherusinga
2.5"woodscrew.Whenattachingtwobeamstogether
likethis,Iliketostandoneachbeamontheground
whileIscrewthemtogethertoensureasnug
connection.Makesurethegroundisflatifyoutry
this.

Thejointofthejoinedboardsshouldlooksomethinglikethis.

Attachthetwo"H"sectionstothefloorassembly.Itmaybeeasierto
dothiswiththefloorand"H"frameontheirsides.

Whenattachingtheframewalltothefloorassembly,itisbesttodrill
screwsinfrombothdirections.Makesureyouoffsetthethescrews
(i.e.putonehigherandonelower)sotheydonothiteachotheron
thewayin.

Attachthetwo4'beamstothetopofthe"H"framewallsusing2.5"screws.

Attachthetwo21"beamstothetopofeachwallasshowninthe
picture,keepingtheallthetopbeamsflushwitheachother.

Thereis,unfortunately,notapictureforthisstep.
Installthetwo45"beamsonthesidewallsoftheframes.Theseshouldbeatthesamelevelasthe
beamsontheendwallssothatashelfcanbeplacedonthem.Attachthesebeamswith2.5"screws.
Decidewhichsideofthecagewillbethefront.Measure2'fromtheleftside.Thiswillbewherethe
largebottomdoorgoes.Thisdoorneedstobelargeenoughtoallowyoutocleanandputinortake
outalitterbox.
Measuretheheightfromthefloortothebottomofthecenterwallbeam.Thisshouldbe
approximately19.5",butuseyourmeasurementforcuttingthenextbeam.Cuta2"x2"beamtofitin
thespaceyoujustmeasured.Attachthebeamwith2.5"screws,beingsurethatthereis2'ofwidth
betweenthebeamandtheleftwallbeam.

Chapter7.Installingthewheels
Turntheentirecageupsidedown.Cutfour2"longblocksfroma
2"x2"beam.Glueeachblocktoeachofthefourcornersunderthe
floor,asinthepicture.
Letthegluesetforafewminutes.

Turntheentirecagerightsideup.Using1.5"woodscrews,screwtheblockstothe
floor.

Turnthecageupsidedownagainandlineupeachwheel.

Attacheachofthefour(4)cornerwheelswithfour(4)1.5"woodscrews.
Forthefifthwheel,Iattachedthewheeldiagonallyacrossthecenterofthemiddlefloorbeamwith
onlytwo(2)1.5"screws.

Chapter8.Installingsometile
Alwaysplacethetilesintheirdesiredpositionbefore
attachingthem,tomakesuretheywillfitproperly.
Youwillneedtocutoutbitsofthetilesbeforeyou
attachthemtofitaroundthewallbeams.

Whensettingthetiles,trytokeepthemsnugglytogether.Thiswillhelppreventmoisturefrom
gettingbetweenthetiles,andmakethecageeasiertoclean.
Workyourwayacrossfromonesidetotheother.

Thisisaviewofthefinishedfloor.

Thisisanotherview.

Chapter9.Buildingthelongshelf
Cutapieceofplywoodto10"wideby4'long.It's
easiesttohavethestorecutthisforyou.

Cutout1.5"x1.5"squaresfromthetwocornersthatwillrestagainsthewallbeams.
Placetheshelfandsecureitwith1.5"woodscrews.

Dependingonyourpreference,youcanstartplacingtilenoworwait
untilyouhaveallthebeamsinplace.
Cutthetilestofitontheshelf.Youcanusuallyusescissorsora
cuttingblade.

Youmaybeabletocutthetileinplaceusingacuttingblade.Simply
scorethetile(makeasmallcutalongthelineyouwanttocutout),
andfoldthetileanditshouldsnapneatly.

Hereisthecompletedshelf.

Chapter10.Buildingthetopshelf
Forthetopshelf,cuttwo(2)2"x2"beamto1'long.
Measurefromthecenterbeamtothetopbeamand
cuttwomore2"x2"beamstofitverticallybetween
them.Separatelymeasurethebeamsforeachsideof
thecage,sincethelongshelfwillcutabout1/4"offof
therearverticalbeam.Lastly,cuta2"x2"beamto
21".
Itishelpfultousea1'beamtomeasuretheplacementoftheverticalbeams.
Attachtheverticalbeamstothefrontandbackusing2.5"woodscrews.

Ifyouhavealreadytiledthelongshelf,youwillneedtocutouta
squareoftiletoallowtheverticalbeamtohavecontactwiththe
woodunderneath.

Chooseaheightforyourshelf.Markthisheightinwoodpencilonall
thevericalbeams.Thenattachthehorizontalbeamsusing2.5"wood
screws.

Cutapieceofplywoodto1'x2'.Cut1.5"x1.5"squaresfromthetwocornersthatwillbeagainstthe
wallbeams.Placetheshelfandsecureitwith1.5"woodscrews.

Chapter11.Buildingthebottomshelf
Preparebeamsforthebottomshelfasyoudidforthetopshelf.Iused
a1"x2"beamforthefrontandbacksupportofthisshelfbecauseI
wasrunninglowon2"x2"beam.Don'tworry.Thisispleantyof
support.Usea2"x2"beamforthesidewall.

Cutasheetofplywoodto1'x2'.Cut1.5"x1.5"squaresoutof
thecornersthatwillbeagainstthewallbeams.Placetheshelf
andattachitwith1.5"woodscrews.

Atthispoint,yourcageshouldlooksomethinglikethis.

Chapter12.Buildingthetopdoor
Ididn'twantagapundermytopdoor,soItookscrapsofplywood,
andfilledinthespacetothebeam,asshowninthepicture.

Youwillbemakingthedooroutof1"x2"beams.
Whenmeasuringforthedoor,makesureyouinsertatileontheshelf
soyoutakethepropermeasurement.
Maketheleftandrightdoorbeamsmeasurefromtheshelffloor
(withtile)tothetopbeam,minusabout1/8"toallowthedoorto
swingwithoutscrapingtheshelforceiling.
Whenmeasuringthetopandbottombeamforthedoor,rememberto
subtractthesidebeamsfromthemeasurement.Again,subtractabout
1/8"sothedoorhasroomtoopen.
Thisnextpartisamatterofpreference.Forthisdoor,Idecidedtoattachthesideofthedoortothe
hingesfirst.Thismeansthatyouhavetotakethedoorsideoffwhenyouattachittotherestofthe
door.Isuggestbuildingthedoor,andthenclampingthewholeassemblytothecagebeam.
Withthedoorfirmlyclampedinplace,attachapairofsmallhinges,
beingcarefultokeepthehingecenteredbetweenthethedoorboard
andcageboard.
Itisimportanttokeepthescrewsinthecentersoftheholesinthe
hinge.Ifthescrewistoofartowardtheinsideofthehinge,thenthe
pressurecreatedwillcausethedoortopopopen.

Thisisapictureofthesidebeamofthedoorattachedtothecage.

Testtomakesurethatthedoorwillbeabletoswingallthewayopen.

Starttoassemblethedoor,makingsurethatthetopandbottem
beamsgobetweenthesidebeamsofthedoor,andnotontopand
bottomofthesidebeams.

Ifyouattachedthesidebeamtothehingesalready,takeitoff.Youwillwanttomarkwhichendis
upwithawoodpencil,andthenattachtherestofthedoorframeontheleftsideofthisbeam.

Attachthedoor.
Youcangoaheadandattachchickenwiretothedoornow.Thiscan
helpyoufeellikeyouaremakingprogress,becausethedoorwillbe
completelyfinished.

Whenunwrappingthechickenwire,wearyoursafety
goggles.Theserollsareusuallywrappedinathin
wirethatcanunexpectedlywhiparoundandhityou
intheeye.Itisalsoagoodideatoweargloves,as
chickenwirehasalotofsharpends.

Cutoutapieceofchickenwirebiggerthanthedoor.Attachthewire,
thenuseyourfencecutterstotrimofftheexcess.Useapairofpliers
tobendbackanywiresthatarestickingoutsonoonecutstheirself
whileopeningthedoor.Therewillprobablybealotofwiretobend
back,butit'sworththeeffort.
Installthelatchonthedoorandsidebeam.

Congratulations.Youhavefinishedthetopdoor.

Chapter13.Buildingthebottomdoor
Measureforthebottomdoor.Ibuildthebottomdooroutof2"x2"
beamforthetopand1"x2"beamsfortherestofthedoor.Iuseda
thickertopbeambecausethisdoorisheavier,andIthoughtitcould
usemorestrengthatthehinges.
Whenmeasuring,makesureyouputatiledownonthefloor,ifyou
havenotalreadytiledit.Leaveabout1/8"gapatthebottomofthe
doortogivethedoorroomtoswingopenwithoutscrapingthefloor.
Alsoleaveabout1/4"inchgapforthesidesofthedoor(thatis1/8"
foreachside).Thetopandbottombeamsshouldbethewidthofthe
door,andthesidebeamswillgobetweenthem.Onmyproject,the
topandbottombeamswere23.75",andthesidebeamswere191/8".
Still,takeyourownmeasurements.
Attachthedoorbyusingclampsagaintoholditinplace
whileattachingapairofsmallhinges.Keepthescrewsfor
thehingesinthecenterofthehingeholes,oryoumayhave
troubleopeningorclosingthedoor.
Youcangoaheadandputchickenwireonthisdoornow,
usingthesamemethodasforthetopdoor.
Testthedoortomakesureitopensandclosesfreely.
Installlatches.Iputlatchesoneithersideofthedoorsothe
catscannotbendasideofthedoorbecauseithasnolatch.

Chapter14.Buildingthelid
Atthispoint,Ihadjustenoughwoodleftforthelid(Ididnot
buyextrabeams,soit'sagoodthingIdidnotmakeany
mistakeswhilecuttingthewood).
Theperimeterofthelidisall2"x2"beam,andthecenter
beamis1"x2".Cuttwo(2)4'beams(i.e.cuta2"x2"x8'beam
inhalf).Cuttwo(2)21"beamsfrom2"x2"beamandone(1)
21"beamfrom1"x2"beam.
Assemblethepiecestoforman"8"shape.

Coverthetopofthelidwithchickenwire.Pullthe
wiretightasitwilltendtostretchanyway,andwill
bulgeifitistooloose.

Chapter15.Finishingup
Atthispoint,ifyouhavenottiledthefloororshelves,doitnow.
Carefullyunwrapandattachthechickenwiretotheoutsidewallsofthecage,tryingtokeepit
stretched.Iadviseusinganexcessivenumberofstaplestoattachanypartofthechickenwirethatthe
catswillbeleaningagainst,orthisareaismorelikelytobreakunderthestress.

Phwew!Almostthere.Allthatisleftistoattachthe
lid.

Attachthelidtothetopwithhingesandlatch,andyou'realldone!
Addacatforsize.

Ithinkshelikesit.

Andfinally,whoitwasallfor.Witha
nicewarmblanketandalitterbox,our
rescuedkittenscansettleinuntil
they'reoldenoughtobeadopted.

AppendixA.AfterThoughts
IhadafewrealizationshitmeafterIfinishedthecage.
Thecageneedsmoredoors.Iwillneedtoaddadooronthefirstshelfonthebottomleft,andonthe
middleshelf,probablyunderthethirdshelf.
Thekittensliketopushtheirbowlsofftheshelves.Iwillneedtoaddapieceoftrimtotheedgeof
eachshelftomakealipthathebowlswillbehardertogetover.ThiswillrequirethatIcutaway
someofthetiletomakeroom.

AppendixB.Feedback
Ifyouwouldliketosharefeedbackaboutthisproject,youcansendanemailtotheauthorat
<isaac(at)noscience.net>.Youwillofcoursehavetochangethe(at)toan@sign.

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