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.