The Cat Pen
It's extremely important to us that our cats are pets first and foremost. It feels harsh to keep them permanently locked in a house, despite it being far safer for them than outside, but equally we don't want our cats stuck in a pen half way down the garden.
For this reason, I have custom-built a cat pen which attaches to what was our utility room, but will soon be converted to a snug... or in Wales we are calling this the Cwtch Room. ('Cwtch' is pronounced 'Kutch', and means 'cuddle'). It gives us a safe indoor/outdoor zone that we can lock a cat or 3 if need be, all separate from one another. The Cwtch Room being the internal part, and the Cat Pen has an inner and outer section, with wire separation. The Cat Pen can be accessed from the utility room window (which we obviously keep locked shut at night), so that the cats can come and go as they please.
The two sections to the Cat Pen allows us to gradually introduce cats to one another, letting them get accustom to each other's smell, and presence, before finally allowing them to meet.
It has driftwood that has been collected from the local beaches, and is arranged for climbing. There are also two thermally insulated boxes, which provide a cool space in summer, and a sheltered space when it's windy, or chilly.
What do the cats think? Well, they frequently go and sit by the utility room window and wait for us to open it so that they can go outside and enjoy the fresh air.
Each stage of construction is shown in the photos on the right.
I have absolutely no construction experience whatsoever. I spend all day working on a PC. This Cat Pen took about 4 months to construct. It was done very slowly, thinking through how I wanted the end result to look, and how things were going to fit together. It's not perfect, there are a few bendy lines, but it serves it's purpose very well, and just goes to show that if you take your time and plan carefully, you can get a good result. Total cost was about £700, which was a bit more than I expected, but wood isn't cheap.
Learning point: Those plastic roof sheets are rubbish. They broke in the first strong wind. Furthermore, the roof is the hardest bit and requires careful consideration over how you are going to get the angle you need, and how the beams of the roof are all going to be connected. Mine is poor, but it keeps 90% of the rain off.