Outdoor Cat Shelter

You can make an outdoor cat shelter

Keep your outdoor cat(s) dry all year, and warm in winter, in a long-lasting plastic storage bin shelter. The finished shelter accommodates 2-3 cats

Example 1:

Tools/Supplies Needed:

  • 2 storage boxes (one larger)
  • Insulation
  • Tubing
  • Utility knife
  • Cutting surface
  • Marker
  •  a brick to weigh down the shelter
  • Straw

Optional:

  •  Spray paint made for plastic. Paint the shelter the color of your home’s foundation and it will be less noticeable.
  • Tarp to spread over the cat shelter(s) for added protection from inclement weather. A tarp will add more protection from the weather and camouflage the shelters.
  •  Second entrance/exit for cats that will not use a shelter with only one hole.
  • A solar pool cover can significantly raise the temperature in the shelter. Place the shelter where it will get plenty of sun.

Bedding material typically consists of straw or wood chips & similar materials. Cedar bedding materials may be added in small amounts to provide flea resistance. Alternately, we recommend a sprinkling of a high quality, veterinarian recommended, and cat-safe flea powder in the bedding. Do NOT use blankets, towels, etc. inside the shelter! The inside will be exposed to moisture from outdoors and the cats themselves, and fabric tends to mold and mildew.

Remember to keep the shelter up off the ground and have just a small entrance cut in so there is less exposure to the cold/predators.

Cat Shelter Building Instructions:

  1. Cut a 5-6 inch round (or square) entrance hole in larger storage tote. The hole should be 3-4 inches off the bottom to prevent flooding in inclement weather.
  2. Place the insulation material into the bottom of the larger box.
  3. Place the smaller box inside the larger box to make sure the lid of the outer tote will still close.
  4. Place the smaller box inside the large one, and use the cut-out circle to trace the same size circle on one end of the larger box.
  5. Place the smaller box inside the larger box and line up the cut-out circles. Squeeze the flexible plastic tubing together and pass it through both circles, making sure it fits snugly.
  6. The tubing should stick out of the outer box a few inches. That way the entryway also serves as a wind break and water shield.
  7. Fill the cat shelter half way with clean dry straw (not hay). Straw is a very good insulator for the cats. They will nestle in, and under, the straw to stay warm.
  8. Pack the spaces between the two boxes with more straw for additional insulation.
  9. Put the lid on to the smaller inside box, then cover it with plenty of straw. Finally, snap the lid on to the larger outer box
  10. Place 1 or 2 inches off the ground (make sure it is stable), and put a brick on top to weigh it down.

………………………………………………………………………

Example 2:

Tools Needed:

  • Utility knife for cutting hole in plastic bin and foam sheets. (A dremel power tool makes cutting the plastic bin quick and easy.)
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure or yardstick
  • Glue gun

Supplies Needed:

  • Plastic storage box: 31 gallon, 32”L X 20”W X 16.5”H Rubbermaid Ruff-neck will last the lifetime of the cat. $10 on sale (No-name storage bins can crack in cold weather.)
  • ½” foam insulation with foil radiant barrier 4’X8’ (polyisocyanurate) ($16 per sheet will line two shelters)  Alternative: 1” thick Styrofoam insulation sheet, 2’X8’ ($8 for one shelter) 
  • Duct tape
  • Straw for bedding ($8 bale – fills 10+ shelters)

Cat Shelter Building Instructions:

  1. Cut a 5-6 inches round (or square) entrance hole. The hole should be 3-4 inches off the bottom to prevent flooding in inclement weather.
  2. Cut insulation sheet to fit inside snugly. Cut the bottom first, then sides, and finally the top. The height of the sides should be 1” shorter to leave room for the 1” foam sheet top. Cut the sides a bit narrower at the bottom to fit the slant of the storage bin.
  3. Cut the top as wide as possible to prevent gaps where the cat’s warmth can escape. Make sure the plastic lid fits securely to keep out cold weather and warmth in.
  4. Affix the insulation to the sides of the shelter using a glue gun. Cats have very sensitive noses and hot/warm glue does not smell like standard tube glues/adhesives.
  5. Use 3” pieces of duct tape around the entrance holes to prevent moisture from getting between the plastic bin and the insulation.
  6. Fill the cat shelter half way with clean dry straw (not hay). Straw is a very good insulator for the cats. They will nestle in, and under, the straw to stay warm.

Winter Cat Shelters – Placement Tips

  • Plan for more cats than you are currently feeding. Additional cats may find you and need shelter from the elements.
  • Place shelter away from where you feed the cats. Uneaten food attracts raccoons and other predators. Never put food or water in the shelter. (If possible, feed the cats in the morning. Feeding at night can attract predators.)
  •  Place the shelter inside a shed, garage, or barn if possible. Otherwise, place on the south side of your home or a building. This will block the coldest north wind and most snow drifts.
  • The entrance/opening should face the building to block the wind) If there is no building and you have multiple shelters, you can align the shelters so the openings face each other.
  •  Put some weight on the top corners on the shelter to prevent the wind from moving it.
  • Fill the shelters with straw. The cats will nest and burrow into the straw to stay warm during the winter months.
  • Note: Do NOT use blankets, towels, etc. inside the shelter. The inside will be exposed to moisture from outdoors and the cats themselves. Wet fabric will draw them warmth away from the cats and can grow mold and mildew.
  • If needed, add a little catnip in the shelter to draw the cats inside.
  • Check the inside of the shelters weekly to make sure they aren’t taking in moisture that would chill the cats.
  • Upgrade your cat shelters in winter by covering them with a solar pool cover. These covers can be found on the side of the road during bulk pick-up days. A 12 ft round cover costs about $30. Cut with household scissors and drape over the shelters, silver side down.