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DIY Cat House

By Picardy Project on Jan 24, 2013

My stepmom has started a cat rescue program at a local community college up where she and my dad live.

Lots of colleges have feral cat overpopulation problems, so her group traps, spays, and releases them. When litters are born, the group gets the cats adopted out, and they help make sure all the kitties are fed.

One problem they have is that raccoons eat the food, and they don't really have "nice" feeding stations. In order to make the program more enticing to be formally introduced into the school (she'd love for it to continue after she stops taking classes there), she wanted to have some feeding stations built—the kind of station that made it difficult for raccoons to access—as well as a small little hut.

For her birthday Chris and I gifted her building the stations so she wouldn't have to pay someone. She found a plan for the raccoon proof feeder and emailed it to us

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But we didn't have a plan for the small hut one. Wendy had sent me a photo of one she'd like us to try and replicate, so I drew up a simple plan

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We made a cut list and headed out to HD. The materials for the hut were simple: 2x4's and plywood. The materials for the raccoon-proof one were much more detailed according to the plans that Wendy found. It required a 2 ft. stake sledged into the ground, a special bracket to attach the 4x4 post to the feeder box, two sets of hinges so the top could be opened, plus metal sheathing around the bottom to prevent raccoons from being able to crawl up the 4x4 to get to the feeder.

Just those four components rang it at about $50. Yikes. Luckily Chris and I came up with some alternative hardware and building options (we found some of the hardware and instructions to be unnecessarily heavy duty), so that if Wendy needs more of these built in the future, the cost can be brought down.

We built the simple little hut first, because it was a lot easier. I stupidly gave Chris the wrong directions for our cut list, so we had to re-cut several pieces, and I rewrote the plans to make them easier to understand. Whoopsie :)

With the plan figured out we got to working. Chris was excited to try out his new Festool saw

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This saw was pretty awesome and easy to use and made the process of cutting everything down a lot easier. And once everything was cut down we started assembling.

The plan was pretty simple—four 2x4's in the corners and 5/8 plywood on the sides, back, bottom and top. Wendy wanted the roof to be slanted to shed water, so we cut the tops of the 2x4's at a 13-degree angle and attached the sides to the 2x4's with wood glue and screws

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We had the sides open at the top rather than go all the way up to the "roofline," because that's what the hut looked like in the photo Wendy sent me. I'm not sure if it has any benefit, but I just replicated what the photo looked like in our plan.

Next up we installed the bottom, or floor. To make assembly easier we cut the floor down and installed it inside the four 2x4's

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Next step: installing the back. We installed this sheet of plywood inside the back 2x4's with pocket screws

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And the last step? Putting on the roof, another piece of 5/8 plywood. We made it overhang about 3" on all sides to help protect the kitties and also make it look a little nicer

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I think it looks pretty snazzy

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It will of course be outside, so it needs to be painted or treated for the elements, but some art classes at the community college will spiff it up (I believe the current idea is paint and mosaic).

The second feeder was a bit more in depth, but not really too difficult. To make it raccoon-proof there will be a 24" x 24" x 16" box with two sides open (for the cats to jump into) attached to the top of a 4x4. The box will have metal sheathing attached to the bottom of it, which apparently helps prevent raccoons from being able to climb up the 4x4 and into the feeder box.

The box was pretty simple to build

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And then I apparently took no more pictures of the process until the box was built. Here it is sitting on top of the little hut feeder

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The side facing the camera and the side laying against the hut's roof are open for the cats to be able to hop into. The roof (which is slightly open to help it balance on top of the roof) has two hinges on it so that it can be opened to switch out food and water and clean it. There is a bracket at the bottom for attaching the feeder to a 4x4, once the 4x4 has been put into the ground. And lastly, the metal sheathing needs to be wrapped around the bottom of the box. But all of those steps will have to be done on the site.

Wendy liked them, and we were excited to be able to gift her something helpful that she (and her group) really appreciated. Hopefully all the kitties like them too :)

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