The Cat Cottage
By VICTORIA JEFFERS, Anjou Bengals

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Anjou Bengals is a small cattery located in North Central New Jersey.

When owner, Victoria Jeffers, wanted a separate cattery building with an outdoor enclosure for her studs, she designed a custom-made "cat cottage".

When you first catch site of the little house in the shade of the mature maple trees, you could be forgiven for thinking you are looking at a gingerbread house in a fairytale.

From its steep center peak of the roof line to the over-flowing flower boxes, it is quaint and adorable — and the cats love it! Read on and learn how Victoria designed and built her Cat House

The Playhouse

Having decided to buy my own stud cats, my next decision was how to house them. I wanted a separate facility just for "the boys" and their special needs. I wanted it to be warm and cozy in the winter, cool and airy in the summer, and to include an outside area.

Not being a carpenter myself, I decided to begin by purchasing a prefabricated garden shed available at most home centers — and then customizing it for the kitties. So off the my local home center I went.

Once there, I saw a storybook playhouse prominently displayed. These little houses are constructed by the Amish people in Pennsylvania and they are not that much more money than the less attractive, utilitarian sheds available for storing lawnmowers, tools and such.

I had already checked our local zoning laws and knew we could add any number of outbuildings to our property as long as each is 100 square feet or smaller. I ordered a playhouse that was 8’ x 12’ - or 96 square feet total. It was perfect!

Customizing The Look

There were several standard shed styles available, but you could also request a custom design. I chose a building that could be custom finished on the exterior. I chose a bead board siding and left it natural without paint.

The house came with standard wood doors. I had the wood doors replaced with a sliding glass doors, which involved raising the height of the house by 6 inches. These doors allowed for lots of light to shine in. Two windows were standard and I had two more added onto the back of the house to provide extra cross ventilation and even more light.

The standard roof was rustic cedar shakes but I liked the storybook look of the slate. This was, of course, extra. Nothing too good for the cats!

And so a standard playhouse was custom designed into a cat cottage!

Cat Doors

The customized playhouse was delivered to the home center, where I had them install pet doors on one side and in the back. These doors would provide passage from the cat cottage to a planned outside enclosure. Because the openings were being placed through an insulated wall instead of the typical installation in a solid door, it was a bit more complicated (and expensive).

I had the doors installed several feet above the ground because my Bengal cats love to perch up high and I planned on adding a platform to each door so the cats could have a high vantage point.

The Installation

On Christmas Eve the house was delivered to my home. My landscaper had already prepared a level area that received sun in winter and shade in summer... I didn’t want the cats to be baking in August.

This area was covered in crushed stone to provide drainage. The garden center installed the cat cottage on raised seasoned 2 x 4s.

The Interior

Once the building was "on site" construction moved to finishing off the inside.

I have a talented handyman, Kjeld Peterson, who works for me from time to time and he agreed to take on the job of doing the interior of the cat cottage.

First he constructed platforms 18” high along 3 walls of the cat cottage and covered them with white linoleum.

He then fitted “cages” onto these platforms. The cages are made from the vinyl covered wire shelving that is sold at Home Depot—installed vertically.

Each cage has a door formed by this shelving and hinged with plastic ties. The cages each have a cat flap that leads to the next cage so that cats can move freely from area to area.

These flaps lock. Being able to lock the flaps is handy if you have a cat who wants privacy. For instance, my female, "Happy", is not fond of other cats and has her own cage out there where she can see (and hiss at) the other cats but not be intruded upon by them.

Kjeld also installed a third cat door so that I could eventually have runs on three sides of the house if I wanted. Outside of each cat door is a platform for the cat to sit and contemplate the neighborhood.

The walls received two coats of varnish to facilitate cleaning. This house was for stud cats and I wanted to have some control over the smell.

Electrical

The wiring was connected to the wiring to my house, although on its own separate circuit. The house has a ceiling light and two outside lights. In addition, there are two plugs inside, one of which is heavy duty to carry the power of the heater.

Heat & Cold

I live in New Jersey where winters are cold and raw, so it was necessary to provide heat and insulation which also involved having the house wired for electricity. I have a DeLonghi electric heater for chilly days.

When summer came, I installed a small window air conditioner. This was partly to cool the house but also because the New Jersey humidity can foster mold and fungus growth.

The Outside Enclosures

At the same time I ordered the playhouse from the home center, I also ordered a prefabricated dog run that would be the outside enclosure for the cats. It is a 6’ x 8’ chain link run with a plastic floor and a canvas roof. It abuts to the cat cottage and has a door in the front for access from the outside.

Because of the slope of the lawn, the run is higher than the floor of the cat cottage and so it is supported by cement blocks.

I added second and third outside runs soon after the inside was finished.

I bought the materials over the internet and built the runs myself. The runs were made up of 3’ x 4’ sections from Options Plus. I used 13 sections per run, which includes the wire roof.

The floor, from the same manufacturer, is plastic (not a particularly good floor but better than dirt) and sits on crushed stone.

In the rear of the cat cottage is a third run: this one is made from a 4’ x 6’ x 4’ high dog kennel that I bought on e-Bay for under $150.00 plus shipping.

This had to be elevated and sits on cement block, with a plywood floor covered by gym matting of the kind that has sections that fit like a puzzle.

Outdoor Furnishings

Carpeted cat trees were added to the outside enclosures to provide lots of comfy perches and climbing exercise for the boys.

Of course, I added a plastic lawn chair both for an extra place to lie and for a place I could sit and visit. An assortment of cat toys completes their outdoor play area.

The Final Touches

I landscaped with deer-proof shrubs. I planted the flower boxes. I sat back and admired the finished project.

The Cost

The total cost of the project ran about $12,000.00, of which about $9,000.00 was the house before Mr. Peterson’s custom work. You could do it for significantly less if you were handy.

Playhouse to Cat Cottage! Both my cats and I love it!

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