There was one day that I was admitting about 15 kittens from a nearby humane society and had to come up with a solution to house them in about two days. I decided that I wanted to give them plenty of space to run around and the opportunity to enrich their life while in my care, so I looked at my options, which were too expensive or incomplete. The problem with large dog kennels is that kittens can often climb them and end up hurting themselves, or they can go through the tiny bars. I could have erected a large dog kennel and covered the top with chicken wire but did not have the time or the budget.
So I was looking on Amazon and came across transparent panels that were made to be linked together. The purpose was not initially intended for cats, but I found a way to make them work for our rescue with some trial and error. Most people purchased the panels so they could house their exotic animals such as rabbits or small puppies. I bought six boxes of them because I did not know precisely how many sets I would need or how to put them together.
Each pack of 12 panels costs about $50.00 from Amazon. A 12 pack of panels can make a few different patterns that allow you to embrace your creativity. I find that one level is perfect for kittens under 12 weeks old, then you have to expand to two levels, which will work for up to about five months. You will need to expand your structure to 3 levels once you start considering this type of solution for adult cats or a mother cat with kittens. This is not a steadfast rule, and you may need to adjust based on the situation. The panels that you will be using to construct the designs have a total of 8 areas that you can put a zip tie in. You have the four corners and a middle slot on the top, bottom left, and right, which allows for any design to be durable and creative.
I put the panels together using zip ties now rather than using the little connectors that come with the panels, even though that is an option. In the pictures above, I used connectors along with the zip ties but found out the zip ties are plenty strong and hold together better by themselves. In the above cage, I have a kuranda bed because I have the playpen inside of a dog kennel since I often allow the mother cats to get out and exercise so they have a break from the kittens. Kittens as young as above, up to about twelve weeks or so, cannot escape on their own.
You may use the connectors rather then zip tie the panels if it makes the process any easier for you – using both is not an issue but I find the connectors rarely hold up on their own without additional support. You will still use the connectors to make the feet and to hold the initial panels. I have had absolutely no trouble from any group of kittens or adult cats of any size knocking over or destroying the panels once I had them set up.
Keep in mind that cat towers are ideally in the middle as not to give leverage so the kittens or cats can escape. I found out recently that I could make a door using the panels strategically, which really will help in the long run if you have to make a two-level or three-level enclosure. Using a ladder is not a realistic way or getting in and out. No instruction is provided for making a door – I will show you below on how to accomplish this. You will need strong snap hooks from any local department store for this step.
In this picture, I would zip tie everything, but the top left and right spots of the right panel and I did not zip tip the panel on the right in the right corner so I could use a snap hook. The snap hooks go on the top right and left of the panel that is to be the door. This strategy will keep the panels together but will enable you to remove the hooks so that you can fold the top panel downwards, allowing you to walk in. When you walk out, you can then snap the panel back where it should go. I do zip tie the bottom of the panels in the middle because this allows them to fold under while not allowing the panel to all off completely.
This is more of an advanced design but did not take me long to do it or to think up the concept. On the middle panels, I did not zip tie the right or left upper corner of the second level panel and did not zip tie the top right or left corner of the upper panel. This allowed me to keep the panels in with an eye hook. I do zip tie the bottom of the panels because this will enable them to fold under while not allowing the panel to all off completely. Avoid carabiners as they just do not work like snap hooks.
I also have used the panels successfully to line the inside interior of large dog kennels to prevent the kittens from escaping through the bars, which is a common issue in shelters and rescues. This is more practical in some environments than the previous methods that I have suggested, as everything depends on your setup. Below is a picture. I zip-tied the panels to each other and used one zip tie to connect the top panel to the actual kennel to keep them from shaking.
I hope this guide makes sense as I thought about how to be present this guide without making it sound confusing. This construction project is best learned by experience, even though it is not that difficult. I did not find that any previous handyman experience was needed. Finally, I will put a few pictures of how the Kitten Lady has integrated these panels.