We prefer to keep everything off the floor if possible. So I looked for a piece of furniture that we could hang. Take a look at our completed rat cage made from the Besta cabinet and doors.
It was a little time-consuming but not all that difficult.
Step 1: Hang the cabinet where you want it. (We purchased the extra-sturdy wall hangers from IKEA.) Once hung and secure, I used a door knob drill kit to cut several holes on both end pieces (for circulation) and several in the middle wall and between the floors. This is where you can have a little fun. You get to choose where your rat or other small mammal will be exploring. I didn’t put holes between every floor or wall, so she would have to get more exercise. You also need to decide which shelves to use. We only used 3 of the 4 included shelves so they would be different heights.
Step 2: I ordered the cheapest 12″x12″ peel-and-stick tiles from Amazon.com, since my local hardware stores didn’t sell any plain white sticky tiles. I had a box of 20 tiles, so I just stuck the tiles on the floor of each level and then measured what I had left to determine just how high I could tile up the sides of each floor. THE KEY: you need a perfect seal around the edges and in the corners. [Don’t do what I did! I started with the whole tile in front but that left my seams in the back. I won’t do that next time. You should start by placing your whole tile in the back corner and work outward.]
Step 3: I had enough tiles to go 4″ up each side wall. So I used a ruler to cut each tile into 3 very straight pieces. I laid them out to make sure everything fit.
Step 4: You’ll need to stick the tiles to the wall — and cut holes in the tile where it overlaps with the holes you’ve made.
NOTE: I ended up using the last bits of tile to fill in these front edge pieces, though I don’t think it was necessary. Our rat (and probably yours, too) prefers to pee in the back corners – which is why you want them to be sealed and easy to clean.
Step 5: Once you start sticking the side tiles, you may notice they aren’t exactly even. That’s okay! I made sure they were even at the top and I used kitchen caulk to seal all the way around every corner and between every tile seam.
Step 6: See how the unmatched seams disappear? They’re easy to seal with matching caulk. Now your edges match and the tile seams barely show.
Step 7: Now I cut the wire into sizes that would cover the holes. This part is also very easy. Once measured and cut, simply use a staple gun to secure around every exterior hole.
Step 8: To make a cage that looks like your furniture (and not so much just like a cage) we figured the doors would be the most important part. So, we bought the Besta doors and removed the glass. Once removed, I used the glass as a template to cut the wire so it would exactly fit. Then, we put the door back together by replacing the dowels we cut and using wood glue. (Time-consuming but fairly easy.) Just be gentle! You need to use something thin, like a razor, to remove any glue that was holding in the glass and then remove one of the door seams. Then you can slide out the glass, replace it with wire and then glue it back together.
For extra security, we drilled out the dowels that were originally used and simply replaced them with another dowel piece (and glue).
Step 9: After you’ve let your door (now with wire where the glass used to be) dry at least overnight, you’ll need to secure the wire in the door frame. To do this, I decided to try using wood glue. So easy! I simply filled one side of the door at a time. Then I let it dry for 24 hours before turning the door on its side, repeating the process and letting it dry another 24 hours. This will take 4 days if you let it dry completely each time. (BEWARE: If you turn the door before the wood glue dries, it’ll dribble out where you don’t want it to be.) This glue dries almost clear, so it’s a perfect solution. And it’s amazingly sturdy!
Step 10: Meanwhile, this will give you time to cover the holes you cut and make some fun stairs and tunnels. I couldn’t find a tube at the petstore so I decided to buy a 10′ plumbers tubing from Home Depot. It was perfect! It’s easy to cut and bend. So, I made stairs by cutting the right length of tube and then slicing in half. I also cut small tubes to cover the holes I made in the cabinet itself. Because it’s black, it makes your furniture look whole again. (Plus, this material is bumpy like stairs and is easy on your rat’s feet!)
Step 11: Once your doors are properly dried and you’ve got the cage setup however you like, put on your doors per IKEA’s instructions.
Step 12: Choose whatever locking mechanism you like. I chose to hide ours underneath, so the cabinet doesn’t even look like it has handles or locks. I just wanted the front to look clean.