How to build your own bee-proof cat run...


The cat run (2005)

We discovered that our cats (Minke and Selby) love anything that flies, including bees. Minke and Selby chase, catch, play with, and eat bees. At first we thought it weird but harmless until Selby was stung on her lip. She was most unimpressed...but it didn't stop her doing the same thing next time she was outside. A few weeks later Selby was stung again, but this time it was much worse...she almost died from an allergic reaction to the sting.

As a result, we decided to build a cat run/enclosure that is bee-proof...

Outside view of the cat run Inside the cat run One of the two hammocks in the cat run The chute into the house and the ramp into the enclosure (this picture was taken before the flywire was attached)


  • Bee-proof: no bees can get in because the whole cat enclosure is covered with flywire or shade-cloth.
  • Cat-proof: no cats can get in (or out) because the whole cat enclosure is covered with wire mesh. The mesh is strong enough for them to climb up, and it protects the flywire from being damaged.
  • Weather-proof: the materials used are weather-proof (except the wooden ramp and platform, I'd guess these will need to be replaced). The cat run has survived a hail storm.
  • Access to house: there is a chute that joins the cat run to the house. The cats can go in and out as they like.
  • Platform: there is a bench at about 1.5m height that runs the full length of one side. They like to be up high to do some perving.
  • Ramps: there are two ramps, one for getting up and down to the chute from the platform, and one for getting from the platform to the ground.
  • Cat house: there is a shelter in the cat run which allows them to be out there in the rain. Though, they mainly use this for sleeping in on sunny days.
  • Hammocks: there are two hammocks (made out of shade-cloth) which are on the platform. One is in the cat house the other is in a sunny position.
  • Door: we can't fit through the chute! So we put a small hinged door onto the enclosure. It is wide enough to get the lawn mower in.
  • Grass: half the enclosure has grass, they like to eat it and they like to lie in it on a hot day.
  • Plants: the other half of the enclosure has plants and trees (cut short). The cats like to be hunting tigers in the undergrowth.
  • Fish pond: within the plants is a fish pond. Minke and Selby like to think they will get the fish one day...when the water dries up. They also like to fall in it occationally.
  • Sunlight: half the day the run is in the sun, but there is enough shade from the trees. The flywire doesn't cut out much light at all. Other materials do!
  • Airy: the flywire and mesh let plenty of air through. Other materials may not.
  • Tall enough: to walk around in without hitting our heads on the roof.


  • Height: approx 2m.
  • Width: 3m.
  • Length: 3m.


  • Frame: Metal Mate Slotted Steel Angle System.
    We used five x 2.2 m and eight x 3m lengths.
    This consists of: five vertical posts of 2.2m, four roof horizontals of 3m, and three wall horizontals of 3m, and one more horizontal of 3m for the platform.
  • Mesh: green plastic coated galvanised wire 1 cm squares.
  • Flywire: fiber glass.
  • Hammocks: shade-cloth.
  • Chute: wire fence, broom handle, shade-cloth, marine carpet.
  • Door: possibly a cupboard door?
  • Ties: cable ties.
  • Wall anchors: clothes line wire and tent pegs.
  • Ramps: a fence post, and a bit of wood with steps nailed onto it.
  • Bench: Laminated chip board.
  • House: A large plastic box.


About $800 AUD

Design the enclosure

Our cat run is square (3m x 3m), with walls about 2m high.

There is a narrow door in one wall. This is essential, because we cannot fit down the chute! We need to get in there to collect poo and mow the grass.

Along another wall there is a bench. The bench is used for many of the features - the chute descends to it, the hammocks and rain shlter are built on it, and the feance-post-ramp leads up to it. Also, the bench gives more rigidity to the structure.

Put it together

The frame
  1. Decide where the corner posts will go on the site. We chose to make it on half grass and half garden bed.
  2. Place the four roof rods (the 3m ones) on the ground...in the shape of a square.
  3. At one of the corners, bang one of the shorter (~2.2m) rods into the ground to a depth of about 20cm.
    I used a small mallet and a ladder for this. It went into the dirt fairly easily.
  4. Bang in the other three corner posts.
    At this point I had four rods sticking up out of the ground. They were a bit unsteady...but I figured that was OK because it would make it easier for me to make them meet with the horizontals at the corners.
  5. Screw the four horizontal roof rods onto the four corner verticals.
    The framing system made this pretty easy...all I had to do is screw two roof rods into each corner.
    All the rods were attached with the screws and angles from the Metal Mate system:

    The Metal Mate joins
  6. Make the doorway by banging in another vertical rod 80cm away from one of the corner posts.
  7. Screw on 3 of the remaining horizontal 3m rods halfway up the three "walls" that don't have the door.
    These rods make the structure fairly strong. Without them, it moves a bit.
  8. Screw one of the remaining 2.2m lengths horizontally along the wall with the door.
  9. To make the bench, attach the last 3m rod about 40 or 50cm away from one of the edges, at the same level as the horizontal along that side.
The mesh

Now that the frame is up, you can start putting up the wire mesh. I found this fiddly but fairly straightforward.

The whole enclosure had to be covered except for the door, which came already covered with flywire.

The mesh came in 50m rolls so I just cut them to size and attached them to the frame with cable ties.

Frame with mesh.  No flywire yet.
The chute

After the mesh is up, it's time to make the chute from the house to the enclosure. Here's what I did:

  1. I went to the shop at the Reservoir tip, and found a little fence made of heavy wire that I could use for the chute to the house.
  2. I rolled it up and cable-tied its ends so it made a tube wide enough for a cat.
  3. I cut a hole in the mesh of the enclosure, just wide enough for the chute, and high enough to line up with the laundry window.
  4. I then jammed one end of the chute into the hole in the mesh.
    Here's what it looks like from inside the enclosure:

    View of the chute from the house
  5. I cable-tied the other end of the chute to the window's security grille.
    Previously, I had cut a hole in the security grille for the cats...before we realized they couldn't go outside.
    I used bolt cutters to do this :-). Bolt-cutters are now my favourite tool.
  6. To make the chute a bit more solid I used a broom handle to take the weight of the chute.
    I attached the broom handle to the frame of the run and to the security grille, with cable ties.
  7. To make the chute bee-proof, I covered the chute with shadecloth, which I attached with cable ties.
    By this stage, the hardware shop had run out of cable ties. We had bought them ALL.
  8. I put marine carpet in it so the cats would have something nice to walk and lie on.
    Here's what it looks like from inside the house:

    View of the chute from within the run
The door

At the tip I also found a little door which already had flywire on it. However, the flywire was only nylon, which cats can scratch through, so we decided to use the same green metal mesh to cover it too: cat-proof and bee-proof.

We put hinges on it...and cable-tied the hinges to the frame.

When the door was closed, it wasn't quite bee-proof. There was a bit of a gap between the door and the enclosure wall.

To make it bee-proof, we stapled flaps of shadecloth to both the door and the door-way. These flaps overlap when the door is closed, keeping out bees.
The door to the cat run

The bee-proofing

At this point the cats could come and go into the run without escaping. However, we still had to put the flywire up.

This took the longest time and used the most cable ties.

We cut long strips and tried to cover as much of the area as possible without needing overlaps. Where there were overlaps, we joined the sheets of flywire using cable ties.

To make sure that the bottom of each wall was bee-proof, I ran a piece of plastic-coated cable around the bottom of the run (except for where the door is). This gives the mesh and flywire something to attach to at the bottom.

I used a wire tensioner to tighten the cable.

We cable-tied the mesh and flywire to it, then used a few tent pegs to lock the wire to the ground.

This stops bees and cats getting under the walls.

The wire tensioner

The bench, hammocks, ramps

All that was left was the bells and whistles.

To make the bench, I laid two pieces of laminated chipboard between the two 3m rods.

At each end of the bench I made hammocks out of shade-cloth...attaching them with cable ties.

I cable-tied an old fence pole from the bench to the ground which is used by the cats to get from the ground to the bench.

I made a little ramp with steps to get from the bench to the chute...you guessed it...it was cable-tied onto the chute.

Fish pond inside the encloser


Poo Cats like to poo in dirt. There is only a limited amount of it in a cat run, so we put a kitty litter tray in the cat run, with some dirt mixed into their normal kitty litter (Breeders Choice).

Mowing Our cat run includes some lawn, and it needs to be mown. We let the grass get a bit long, because they like to be hunting tigers in the shoulder-high savannah.


For more photographs of the cat run click here.

The extension (2006)

I got a little carried away with an idea for extending the cat run because I noticed rats in our garage. I decided the problem might go away if our cats hung out in the garage. I built a tunnel from the existing cat run to a new cat run which had another tunnel that allowed the cats to get into the garage.

The new cat run Inside the new cat run

The tunnel

The tunnel runs from the existing cat run along the side fence to the back fence then along the back fence to the new cat run. It is about 18m long.

The tunnel joining the old and the new cat run The join of the tunnel to the cat run

The tunnel is made out of plastic garden trellis and Biomesh. The trellis is cut into lengths of about a meter and its ends are joined with cable ties to make a tunnel section. Each tunnel section is joined to make the lengths needed to join both cat runs. The Biomesh is like fly wire but stronger. It allows plenty of air to get into the tunnel and it is see through. The Biomesh was used to keep the bees out.

The new cat run

The new cat run is built the same way as the existing cat enclosure. The only real difference is that it is on cement. The cats love rolling on the cement!

Inside the new cat run The cat run door The garage entrance The garage entrance

The new enclosure has a ramp up to a large hammock. At the end of the hammock is a tunnel that joins the new cat run to the garage. The door is made out of a wooden trellis.

The new chute

We also had to upgrade the chute because we did some renovations and the window that the old chute connect with was removed. The old chute is gone and it has been replaced with a cat flap which opens into a wooden tunnel. The tunnel joins into the old cat enclosure a little bit below where the old chute joined. The tunnel is covered with shade cloth. It took Minke one day to learn how to use the cat flap and it took Selby about four days.

Cat flap from the inside Cat flap from the outside The new chute The new chute ramp into cat enclosure

The cat flap was installed by Pet Doors Australia for $175 AUD including the flap itself.


Site last updated 31 July 2015
All photographs are © Trudi Ersvaer, 1994 - 2006