Cattery Construction

First thing is to have a decent concrete slab...sloped to drain, and have plans for where the rinse water and rain water will go.  A large grassy area works fine.

The structure of the runs is formed from Schedule 20 1 3/8" chain link top rail.  The wire is 1" X 2" X72" galvanized welded wire.  The overhead rafters are 6 inch lightweight steel framing, some are 20ga and some are 18ga.  Fasteners are self tapping screws.  The lightweight steel is not welded, but fastened with screws.  It's not readily apparent, but there is a fiberglass skylight here, covering the walkway.

Available shade is made use of.  I try to have at least a 2 foot overhang in all directions.  The roofing is 26 and 29 gauge Galvalume roofing sheets.  I use 2X4 for roof perlins and fasten it to the lightweight steel structure with screws, and then use roofing screws to fasten the roofing sheets to the 2x4s.

This shows you the details of how the runs are secured against unauthorized feline exits.  On these runs I was in a hurry so I used the nylon zip ties to fasten the wire to the frames.  Each frame is made so that it can be removed and the rest of the structure left in place.  Then the frame can be repaired or replaced without having to tear the whole mess apart.

The steel tubing is flattened slightly then welded to form a very strong and neat corner.  Individual frames are bolted together with clamps made for that purpose.

 

This is a press assembly I made for flattening the tubes.  I tried simply using a hammer and anvil, but it does weird things to your hearing.  I made this out of scrap angle iron and channels.  In the frame at the end is a 6 ton bottle jack.

The tube fits into the press between the jack and the top frame.  I use a little piece of steel on top of the jack to give it a smooth surface.  Just operate the jack and it easily flattens the tubes.

I didn't have any panels under construction so I didn't show the details of welding them together.  Use your imagination.  It's best if you have an area where you can set up a table or jig so you can cut out the tubes for the whole run, and just clamp them together and weld them.  If you try to just do it free hand on the ground, you'll make a mess of it.

The Straps.  The USDA requires that you have something more secure than the plastic wire ties.  After a year in the sun, they can break pretty easily.  This leads to searching the neighborhood at 2 am with a flashlight calling "Here Kitty, Kitty..."

This is a Galvalume fastener to hold the wire to the tube.  I use it when I have time to make them.  It's actually a simple process.  They last forever, and can be removed easily if you have to, but they are very secure.

This is simply an angle iron frame with a pair of old snips welded to it.  I get the Galvalume straps at a sheet metal shop.  The Galvalume comes as 42" X 10' sheets, and is used for making roofing trim.  Sheet metal shops will always have odd sizes left over.  I get them to make me strips of it 3/4" by 10 feet.  They usually charge me $1.00 per strip.  I use the shear above to cut the long strips into 6.25" pieces...the exact length I need.  The shear is designed so that if I run the long strip through the snip and butt it against the upright, that gives me the exact length I need.  I can cut up a 10 foot length into individual pieces in about a minute.

This little jig is used to fold offset angles on each end of the cut pieces.  It started life out as a piece of 18 gauge angle, but I flattened it and cut it so that it looks like this.

The Roller is used to preform the strap so that it matches the tube it will be used on.  This roller was made from an unused short length of tube.  I cut a slot in it with a chop saw so that I can roll the strap.

At this point you would wrap the strap around the tube, and in actual use you would pass it through the wire mesh.  The two offset ends will overlap each other.

Take a pair of sheet metal clamps and flatten the two offset ends, and at the same time pull them tightly around the tube.  Do this while also squeezing them together.

Finish it off with a hammer.  Gently tap it flat.  If you have to take it apart, just use a flat screwdriver and reverse the process.

This is a view of a door corner and three panels.  Usually I use the plastic zip ties to hold the wire in place till I can use the Galvalume straps.  4 panels make up a run, with a roof overhead.  The panels are clamped together, and then wire fastened onto them.  The door is made into the front panel.

There are many details that I haven't included here.  If you are smart, you will overcome them as you build your structure.

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