DIY indoor cat door

DIY & Save Money / Saturday, February 24th, 2018

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We live in a relatively small house, around 1000 square feet if you don’t include the gym. Because of the limited space, I do not want to see litter boxes out in the open. I hate litter. The texture and smell are just as bad as what it’s used for. Besides this, my dogs consider cat scat quite the delicacy. Ew! No one wants doggy kisses with litter breath! Haha.

Our issue: we have four cats, three large litter boxes, and two dogs who love to eat kitty-litter Tootsie Rolls! So after much deliberation, we decided put in a cat door that leads down to our small basement. The litter boxes fit perfectly under the basement stairs–hidden! I’m going to share how we went about purchasing, installing, and concealing our super-cool cat door–it’s a-DOOR-able!

Step one: buy a cat door. This wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. We have three regular-sized cats and one over-sized basketball cat (a rotund orange tabby whom we call Fatty). Fatty was too large to fit in a normal-sized cat door. His head wouldn’t even fit! So, we found a medium-sized DOG door from Tractor Supply (8 1/4″W x 12 1/4″H).  Super-sizing from the cat door to the dog door doubled to the cost to $60.

Our house was build in 1903 and the doors are all original. It was admittedly very painful to cut a hole into it, but we had plans to make the pet door look as if it had always been there. So the first thing we did was cut out the shape of the door with a hand-held electric jig saw using the enclosed template as a guide. We did retain the removed wood in the event that a future homeowner might want to attempt to restore the door. We then installed the door according to the manufacturer’s directions.


Okay, so that white plastic is hideous compared to the beautiful door. We had to hide it. So, we covered the white plastic with wood-grained contact paper from the Dollar Tree. By itself, $1 wood-grained contact paper can be equally hideous, but it was effective camouflage when used in a limited quantity for this project.


It’s almost hidden! Next, we placed the amazing oak antique frame over the pet door and secured it with wood screws.  The frame fit the cat door perfectly, and the wood grain and tones match! It was meant to be! We just happened to find a pre-made vintage frame of the same dimensions, but you could have any framing shop create custom trim for your project to match your style of door. The frame set us back $30.


The total time investment from creating an opening to installing the oak frame was about two hours. The total cost was $91. The most basic cat door would set you back $20-30, but we do everything over-the-top!

But, what good is a door if the pets are unwilling to walk through it? It took a while for the cats to figure out the new cat hatch. We had to leave the flap open for a couple weeks, but they finally got it! Here’s the finished product with Fatty sitting beside it. 🙂

We hope you enjoy our indoor cat door. Share your projects below!

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2 Replies to “DIY indoor cat door”

  1. I don’t know how you do it with all of those cats in such a small space. We have enough trouble with one cat in a small apartment. BTW, not five minutes ago he walked all over my keyboard I had to delete some gibberish from the middle of something that I was working on.

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