The Cat’s Meow: How to Build a Zombie Apocalypse Proof Kitty Condo

How to build a kitty condo, zombie apocalypse proof or otherwise, was far from my thoughts that day. The cat’s meow in my book would be seeing progress in trimming out the interiors for the new windows, painting same, and getting the basswood blinds up to replace the cheap plastic Walmart versions. However, I hadn’t included my wife’s Honey Do list in my calculations. One of the outside cats roaming the neighborhood had finally decided to adopt us and that made all the difference, especially since we’d checked with all the neighbors and they all agreed this critter did not seem to have a current home. Definitely not feral, but very likely abandoned or left behind when its previous humans had to move.

Mind you, Pam did not say anything about an apocalypse, but she did bring up the new feline acquisition (whom I call Namo, meaning blessing, and she calls Kitty Sunshine which amounts to pretty much the same thing).

“She needs something to keep her warm in the (enclosed) porch when it gets below zero,” she pointed out. Never mind that I thought Namo was a he or that we haven’t come to any firm gender conclusions to this day. “It would be nice if she could come in the house, but I’m not having her claw up my furniture and Kitten Precious wants to tear her a new one.”

It all made sense, at least to us. Gato had charged the porch door glass when Namo, prior to adopting us, had showed up on the other side, but his initial reaction was nothing compared to that shown by K.P., our eleven year old and understandably jealous female. Both Gato and Precious are strictly indoor cats, declawed in front, who’ve been with us since they were kittens; adding a massive-pawed claw slinger to that mix at this point would not be right even though Namo is clearly a lover, not a fighter.

Namo also declined to be photographed for this post, so Gato volunteered, staking his claim to my bed (which is where he sleeps more often than not).

Gato on my bed, staking his claim. He recently celebrated his seventh year with us.

It became instantly clear that the mere windows-for-humans trim work would have to be put on hold. After looking up a number of commercially manufactured kitty condos online and rejecting every one as unsuitable for our purposes, it was obvious that if it was to be it was up to me. Next came the design for the Mother of all Kitty Condos, built with 2″ x 4″ stud walls all around the cube, filled with R-11 insulation, and finished on both sides with quality exterior house siding called Smart Siding which is basically OSB strand board with a hard, water resistant outer layer.

Except for the dimensions, Pam and I could live in this structure.

The finished zombie apocalypse proof kitty condo, lacking only a bit of weather stripping from NAPA which will be added under the lid.

Everything you see is insulated, including walls, base, and lid. But why is it so big? Or is that entryway tiny, designed for a midget cat?

Um…we have Pam to thank for that. The entryway is full sized, a generous 9″ x 10″ opening. Before I started building, she’d already donated a laundry basket with a nice, comfy comforter to Namo. The condo was literally built around that sizeable basket. Spoiled much, kitty cat?

That big box is more than slightly heavy, having absorbed nearly three full sheets of siding, more than a dozen 2″ x 4″ boards, and lots of nails. It would be unwise for two men to pick it up and walk off with it unless they were either showing off for their girlfriends or training for a Strong Man Competition. It’s also slightly elevated. This was necessary because rainwater and snowmelt frequently flow right into the porch from a sizeable gap under the back door plus slower leaks around the edges of the two corner walls where stone masonry meets concrete. There’s a drain built into the porch floor, so the influx of water never covers the entire floor, never gets too deep, and usually doesn’t hang around for too long. However, getting the wooden structure wet at all–especially the OSB strand board siding–is not an option, so the kitty condo is supported by four “pavers,” concrete “bricks” that serve as mini-stilts.

Concrete is not entirely pervious to water, though, so a piece of 30″ roofing felt (tarpaper) is placed between each brick and the wood above it, preventing a wet brick from getting the wood even a little damp.

Why roofing felt? Simple. I found the tag end of a roll in in the garage, left over from last summer’s porch roofing project. One uses what one has, especially since we’ve got close to $150 in this little building already.

A look at one of the paving brick supports with 30# roofing felt forming a moisture barrier between concrete and wood.

It’s absolutely essential to be able to remove the basket and comforters for airing and cleaning, so the lid had to be one we could open. To that end, the left side of the lid is hinged, the right side has a grab handle, and at “full open” the lid rests nicely against the sturdy wooden chest of drawers standing behind the railing on the steps. In another setting, it might have been worth it to add a restraining chain to the construction, but for now the chest of drawers will do just fine.

Kitty condo with lid open, resting against the chest of drawers. Except for the cat entryway, it looks rather like a chest freezer, doesn’t it?

Although it may not get used a great deal, one final option was added. Two 100d spikes, which we had lazing around in our cargo trailer, were treated to makeovers using the DualSaw, cutting off their heads and points to produce a pair of simple iron rods. Then shallow holes were drilled into the inner surfaces of the lid’s underside and the right hand wall’s topside, just enough to keep the support rods from slipping out of place. It might never happen, but we wouldn’t want to see the heavy lid come crashing down if the cat rubbed against an easily dislodged rod. This arrangement allows the condo lid to be raised to “half mast,” resting partway open, allowing for free flow of fresh air during good weather without using the “wide open” position.

Kitty condo with lid raised to half mast.

Pam is, in her own words, “very proud of me” for doing this for Namo. That’s a twofer, getting credit for something that was a pure joy to do in the first place. Frankly, I counted it as recreation.

Oh, the “zombie apocalypse proof” part? My wife mentioned that she wants to find a talented person with a woodburning pen to label the front “The Kitty’s Meow.” I shifted that back to “The Cat’s Meow” for the title of this post but also responded, “This kitty condo is built human house strong. We could walk on this thing with no problem. In fact, I’d venture to say this kitty condo is zombie apocalypse proof!”

Naturally, that stirred Pam’s creative juices. “We need to get her some kitty grenades.”

“For blowing up zombies?”

“Sure. She’s got the claws to pull the pins, then toss them right out that hole, and ka-blooie!”

Point for Pam. Looks like an inside hook should be added so no zombie can lift that lid from the outside. With that and a bit of research on kitty grenades, we should be good to go.

Welcome home, Namo. No zombies allowed here.

8 thoughts on “The Cat’s Meow: How to Build a Zombie Apocalypse Proof Kitty Condo

  1. Your creativity and Pam’s imagination show no boundaries. I am impressed with your Kitty cottage. All it needs are some pretty paintings for the inside and some carpeting on top, to sharpen her claws with. A scrap piece from somewhere ought to do. The carpeted piece could even serve as a seat cushion for an extra porch seat.

  2. Nice job and fun story, Ghost! I hope Namo likes it, since my experience with cats is that they live and sleep where THEY want to… maybe a catnip toy to entice him in? Of course, if it is the warmest and comfiest part of the porch, Namo might just like it… 🙂
    Question: is Namo going to have access to the outdoors, too? or is he porch-bound?
    Final comment: How is it that Namo hasn’t let you or Pam rub his/her belly yet ? I understand a feral cat would be much harder to pet, but a domesticated cat is usually more amenable to being cuddled.

  3. Becky: Hm…the pretty paintings would have to be done directly on the interior walls since the comforter rests against the wood and there’s hardly any space between wall and basket to begin with, but your carpeting idea is primo. I’ll have to keep that in mind. Our local building supply store does sell carpeting, so maybe it wouldn’t be that hard to come up with a remnant.


    Manny: Namo loves it and was sleeping in the basket long before the kitty cottage (Becky’s term for it is better than mine) was built. Although I lounged in a chair on the porch with my legs stretched out on a plastic tote for more than an hour tonight with Namo in my lap, both of us snoozing, and that seemed to make the chair more desirable even after I came into the house.

    Namo loves laps and has no objection to belly rubs. In fact, it’s that lap attraction that makes it difficult to get a picture of cat-with-cottage, as said feline is generally following one of us around rather than posing. And no, not porch-bound. Any day the weather’s workable, Namo gets to go outside either alone for a while or with one of us. This is one kitty that’s more than happy to cuddle. (Whereas Gato is affectionate but refuses to be held, and Kitten Precious can–meh!–take it or leave it.)

  4. Sometimes they get rid of the carpeting samples that are not being sold anymore. Maybe they will have some of those. If not, the guys that do the carpeting are more likely to have scraps. Then you would have all the pieces for the porch perch.

  5. Our outdoor cats in minnesota had a heating pad in a wooden box in the garage, because grandpa set it up for them.
    Thats a wonderful kitty condo. I’m wondering where the door flap is? Big open hole for cold air to get in up north in the cold? I know what cold is like up there, I’m sure you all do too. Beautiful place for Namo I just think it needs a door flap to keep cold wind out.

  6. Hi Mary, and good to see you posting!

    A door flap would be good but may not be possible–because Namo will not go into the condo if there is so much as an inch of blanket overhanging the top of that kitty entrance. Pam thinks it may be related to something in her past, that she was not treated well, trapped, whatever, by humans in the past who used “trick doors.” We are trusted implicitly but anything even hinting at a cover (or flap) to that opening is not.

    However, the condo is not outside per se but inside the enclosed porch where Pam goes to sit and smoke or just plain sit. With the garage blocking weather on the north side (a portion of the garage’s north wall is the porch’s south wall), the insulated breezeway “blocking wall” I built recently, a portion of the mobile home’s west wall forming the east wall of the porch, massive reduction of the glass (70 square feet less now) compared to when we moved in, remaining windows replaced with smaller and better cold-blocking new windows, and Pam’s use of the laundry dryer (which vents into the porch) plus a milk house heater when she’s out there…it’s not exactly an outdoor situation. Yes, cold air will get in, but not wind, and not as cold as the outside. Last night our low was 27 degrees and the porch held around 40 degrees.

    And then there’s the “nest” inside the condo box. Namo has a nicely “dug in” position with the comforter wrapping up around much of his body, leaving only his furry little back exposed.

  7. Becky, we decided to settle for an old blanket we had on hand. It’s kind of a faded blue color, sturdy enough but mostly good for wrapping furniture, doesn’t suit either of our beds, so we wrapped the lid today, being careful to leave the opening as “all wood” to avoid Namo’s reaction to any overhang there. Cat loves the soft pad on top even if it isn’t as thick or sturdy as carpet, lies on it but does seem to know what’s good for sharpening claws (like a 4″ x 4″ wooden post) and what’s not. I added some weather stripping under the lid as well, the thinnest I could find, but even that jacked the lid up a bit, so the weather stripping was then removed and the (folded) blanket draped over the top, covering all sides far enough down to prevent drafts from slipping through between lid and wall tops.

  8. Sounds like you took care of everything. I like the pad on top, because sometimes they just want to sit out there and watch what’s going on. Blake does that too. She likes the ottoman, because it gets her up off the floor where she can get stepped on, and she can see everything that’s going on. Namo probably likes getting off of the cold floor of the porch too.

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