A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

A Hole for Cats (or a Very Large Mouse)

In preparation for the impending bathroom remodel, we’re transitioning the cats to use the litter box in the basement. I never wanted to have one in the bathroom in the first place but the basement was such a mess that I was afraid their curiosity would get them into trouble. Over the past several months we’ve slowly rearranged and reorganized the unfinished part of the basement and think we’ve plugged every hole and put away anything that might have been dangerous.

I still had a giant litter box that I bought for Henry and Ella, so I set that up before we let them venture downstairs.

Lena is always the one peeking under the basement door when we’re downstairs, so although you could tell she wanted to explore she cautiously peered down from the top step when I first opened the door. I had to get Romy to lead the way, which she did immediately with Lena eventually following. They both took to the new litter box with no problem.

We’ve been leaving the basement door ajar to let them explore on their own, and for now we’ve kept the bathroom litter box in place to wean them from it. They’re still using it a little bit, but they’re definitely preferring the basement one.

We used an antique iron as a doorstop in the hallway to make sure the basement door doesn’t close shut, however my goal was to be able to keep it closed which is why a long time ago I bought a Cat Door (I bought it from Amazon). It’s really intended for doors only, but I definitely wasn’t going to cut a hole in one of our beautiful original doors. I thought we could modify it to work in the kitchen wall instead, which is just on the other side of the basement stairs.

Several years ago and before Henry and Ella showed signs of their Feline Leukemia, Pete had cut an arch in the drywall on the basement stair side using the paper template they provide. That’s as far as we got until last weekend.

We thought it would be a quick little afternoon project, but it took the better part of the day to finish it all off and make it look nice. Here is the spot in the kitchen that allows access to the basement stairs, which is immediately as you enter the kitchen from the main hallway.

First we removed the trim in the kitchen and punched starting points through the drywall from the basement side that would match up with the hole we already made there.

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We wanted to make it as close to the top stair as possible, so it’s right next to the wall stud. Peek-a-boo!

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Pete found some scraps from our attic reno trim project that would cover the bottom plate and I quickly stained the stud with the gel stain I recently bought.

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He also found a scrap 2×6 to plug up and create the opposite “wall” of the access hole and then we screwed the arched cat brush (included in the kit) to the studs.

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I put a quick coat of stain on the wood arch trim (on both sides of the wall), then Pete cut the baseboard trim to fit around the hole and we’re done! (I decided to just use the darker stain instead of using the kitchen trim stain since the walls and floor of the access were darker too.)

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Lena was a little unsure about it on her first go-through as you can see, but she’s comfortable with it now.

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I might take the bathroom litter box away sometime this weekend and then after a few days once they’re used to that we’ll be able to keep the basement door fully closed.

2 Comments

  1. jamie on March 15, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Love this! We included a “mouse hole” in the moulding of our old staircase and it was appreciated by many (especially us), but a passage for cats…that’s wonderful! 🙂

  2. Drew on June 12, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    This is so cool! Before you finished it, it really did look like an entrance for mice, but the finished product looks great.

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