Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Building a Balcony Pet Enclosure

A long time ago I had this idea, and then I completely forgot about it.  And then something happened, probably we got very crowded with cats, and I remembered it.  The idea was to enclose the back balcony with a pet enclosure so the cats could safely use it, using something very secure and see through like metal fencing.  If we had an enclosure on the balcony, I thought, we could leave the upstairs back sliding glass door open, and the cats could enjoy some fresh air, a more stimulating view of nature, and more space all around to boot.  So last weekend we set about to make it happen.



At first we tried adverstising on Anglo Info Cyprus for professional fencing.  After two weeks, that brought out only one man for an estimate.  That didn't go well.  As it became clearer and clearer he was more worried about our not being able to use the balcony anymore to hang our laundry to dry, and that he was the victim of an old world Cypriot view of animals, I had to come right out and ask him, because I am getting a little smarter than I used to be,

"Do you like animals?"

"Me?" he answered, "I have dogs."

"Do they go inside your house?"  I asked.

"They are hunting dogs." he replied

"Oh, do you like to hunt?"

Well he just about did back flips, "YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSS! - " he exclaimed, and then caught himself too late, realizing we might not be fans of hunting.



Hmm.  So I figured he was not the best person for our particular job, knowing how hunting dogs are treated here.  I humored him for the rest of his estimate, which was mostly a lecture on what would "be better", and told myself, "Only if we are absolutely desperate will we have this man do the work!"  It just didn't make sense to me that he could possibly understand what we wanted, or where we were coming from.

And then our friend, Ron, who has done a lot of building at his own house for his and his wife's Anne's pets - 4 cats, a rabbit, and a dog - stepped up like a hero to lend us a hand.

So that is what we did last weekend.  We started building a pet enclosure.  The beauty of it is we can take it with us when we leave, because it comes apart very simply.



It is hot here right now, so I have to hand it to Nik and Ron.  When the sun hit the balcony they were sweating like kefalotyri cheese in a green house. 

When I saw at first that it didn't fill the whole length of the balcony, I had them make some changes,and that made it a little wonky, so if you see wonky, that's my doing. 

We need something like this because we don't have an open door policy for cats here, for three reasons.  Firstly, we have handicapped cats that simply cannot go outdoors.  Secondly, we live on the Indiannapolis 500 race track for Cypriots, and we don't want our cats to get hit by a car.  And, thirdly, an outdoor pet cat's life expectancy is less than 5 years, while an indoor cat can live 12-20 years.  (BTW, a feral or street cat's average life expectancy is 2 years, although some say 3.)


We hope we will finish it this weekend.  We are really excited to introduce the cats to it.  We think it is going to make them very happy.  We will let you know how it works out!

PS  You can see the cats enjoying their balcony pet enclosure here.

6 comments:

  1. Can you tell me exactly what materials you used please. I want to do this as well :)

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  2. Hi Gina. How are you? Yes, I can tell you exactly which materials we used - let me check with Nik when he gets home from work so I can be sure to be accurate. Please check back. Thanks!

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  3. Hi again Gina. How are you?

    The materials we used for our balcony pet enclosure were:

    6 meter length aluminum pipes cut to(for our balcony)
    3 pieces 3 meters long
    4 pieces 1 meter deep
    5 pieces 2.5 meters tall (you will probably only need 4 if your balcony is not very long)

    They can be cut with a hacksaw or a grinder.


    The pipes were connected with steel pipe joints. We used:

    8 3-way corner joints
    and
    3 T-shaped joints

    In the 3-way joints are bolts which restrain the pipes running into them from moving.

    For the fencing we used wire mesh - it's like chicken wire but the holes are rectangular and about 1 inch x 1/2 inch. We wrapped it over our frame and overlapped it for extra security.

    The mesh was attached to the pipes with plastic ties - we used about 50 or 60 of them. We also used the plastic ties to secure the overlapping mesh.

    We attached it to the house with 2 universal L brackets or plates.

    Basically, we made a box that was missing 2 sides - the floor and the side against the house being the missing sides, as they were unnecessary.

    WE also added an extra pipe because we had originally cut the length too short and we wanted to extend it.

    Does all that make sense?

    Please don't hesitate to ask any questions if this is unclear! We planned a little with a picture and then figured it out as we went - It very much helps to draw a picture first!

    We built it so we would be able to dismantle it and take it with us to our next house - this was important to us.

    Best Wishes,

    Anita



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  4. Hello! Thank you so much for your detailed reply! This is very helpful to me. I will let you know how it goes. Thanks again Anita!!

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  5. You are welcome, Gina! I look forward to hearing how it goes! Cheers :)

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