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Building A Cat Hut

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1 - What You Need

These pages are about how to build a Cat Hut to shelter your feline friends. No special skills are required, just basic tools and common sense. It will be superior to anything on the market, and you can of course adapt the design to suit your situation and the personal preferences of your own cats.
It will be the envy of neighbours' cats, and win you a lot of comments. The comments will range from admiration to concern for your sanity, but your cats will love you anyway.

Introduction

The picture above is of the hut during building. It is raised off the ground to keep the floor clear of snow and damp (the underneath of worktops is not intended for external use!) and provide an 'open-air' alternative shelter underneath.   The floor has been sawn into at the corners to take the legs, but its weight is supported by blocks on the legs, with only long, thin screws tying the legs and floor together.   The frame created by the legs is strengthened by the struts at each side and front and back underneath - these also act as hand grips for moving the hut because the cladding is not strong enough.

The tops of the legs are linked by more struts, and you can see the internal wall frames which provide rigidity plus fixings for the cladding and internal walls.   The gaps between the cladding and inner walls are filled with cut-up polystyrene ceiling tiles to act as insulation (two thicknesses of tile, leaving some air circulation to allow the wood to dry out without rotting).   Around the bottom of the inner frame is a 'D' molding, but it's not strictly necessary.

The front legs are 1" shorter than the back legs, to allow the hinged roof to drain. Allow a minimum of 2" overlap for the roof.   Because of the fall to allow rain to run-off, the roof will not fit flush with the tops of the legs. You will need to sand them to fit the angle. The wood chisel is to sink the hinges flush into the rear top cross-frame.

Roger was quite a large cat. The height may look excessive, but in practice it works well, given that the floor is covered in 'VetBed' and then old towels etc. It has slept up to 4 cats (rare but it has happened), and the usual couple of feline residents need space to jump over one another to get in and out without infringing territorial rights!

Suggested Materials and Tools

  • Hammer
  • 1" Nails (galvanised)
  • Screwdrivers
  • Brass Screws - various
  • 2 Hinges (brass)
  • Coach-bolts
  • Wood Saw
  • Stanley knife
  • Wood chisel
  • Hand or power Drill
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Sheet of Perspex, or 3mm milled-edge
    glass cut to size for the window
  • Fine saw, if using Perspex
  • Tape measure and pencil
  • Paper for doodling notes
  • Kitchen worktop off-cut or ¾" boards
  • ¼" Plywood for the inner walls
  • ¾" Plywood board for the roof
  • Roofing felt
  • 3" x 3" wood for the legs
  • 2" x 2" wood for the frames
  • 2" x ½" wood for roof batons
  • ½" x 1" wood for the roof underside
    and window fixing framework
  • Polystyrene tiles for the insulation
  • Fencing boards for the exterior
  • ½" 'D' molding (optional)
  • plus
  • Low-odour animal-friendly wood preservative
  • 'VetBed' washable 'fur' lining
  • Some old towels or rugs etc for bedding

Notes on the Materials

The nails should be galvanised and the screws and hinges brass, to minimise rusting. Aim to use screws wherever appropriate as this reduces the likelihood of splitting wood, not to mention causing less damage to your thumb ... And when you decide to alter something (which you will), screws simply unscrew, whereas nails are a pain to extract. However, grease the screws or they will rust whatever they are made of.

Cross-head type screws (Phillips / Posidrive etc) are easiest to use. If you have a power-screwdriver, don't over-tighten screws into soft wood. It is best to pre-drill screw holes, to ensure they start off easily and go in straight. This also prevents wood from splitting. A hand-drill may be preferable, as power drills can zip too far in too quickly!

No, I'm not going to estimate the number of screws and nails required, or the sizes to use. You will need quite a few, but exactly how many of which depends upon the sizes and type of the wood you use and the dimensions you choose. I used a lot of 1½ - 3" No 8. The 1" nails for the cladding (fencing boards) are smaller than would be used on a fence. If you want it to last, consider what the wind might do if you don't use enough!

The coach bolts are for the window, but you may prefer to modify the material and design and use tacks and putty to fix it in. I use internal-standard Perspex because it is cheaper than external-standard or getting safe glass cut to size. It does deteriorate, so when discoloured I simply unscrew the bolts (keep them lubricated) and fit another piece cut from the sheet.

I used a spare piece of kitchen worktop for the floor; offcuts are not hard to come by. If you cannot find one use a minimum of ¾" boards, and ensure they are supported underneath - cats can be heavy. Cover the whole floor in a durable waterproof material (eg, a spare piece of 'lino' well glued down) before adding the internal struts.   Wet fur drips a lot of water, so don't give your cats old pillows or cushions; they don't dry out and rot easily.

The worktop-floor is heavy, so is not directly supported by the legs. When making up the basic frame, first fix blocks onto all 4 legs at the same height (c 17") for it to rest on, then screw the legs and floor together.
Metric equivalents 
¼ "
½ "
¾ "
1 "
1 ft
6.35mm
12.7mm
19.1mm
25.4mm
30.5cm
Sizes given are approximate.

Instead of repeating 'length of wood'
'strut' is used in the descriptions

1 - Introduction and Materials 2 - Dimension Diagrams 3 - Front Diagram 4 - Construction 5 - Roof and Finishing

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Design, photos & diagrams © Bob Downing 2000