How to build a cat house for cold weather

Written by faith chandler
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How to build a cat house for cold weather
Feral cats spend the winter outside in unprotected conditions. (cat sitting in the snow image by Katrina Miller from

According to the Feral Cat Coalition, 60 million feral cats are in the country alone. These cats are semiwild and live outdoors year round. One can occasionally befriend ferals, but can't get them to come inside. One solution is to build an outdoor cat shelter to help feral cats survive the harsh winter weather. One particular shelter is easy for just about anyone to build.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 35 gallon plastic tub
  • 18 gallon plastic tub
  • Straw or cotton bedding material
  • 1 inch thick polystyrene
  • Hand saw

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  1. 1

    Obtain the necessary supplies for the cat shelter. Most of these items can be found at hardware stores. Many stores will even make straight cuts for you on items like wood and foam insulation. Straw can be found at pet stores, farmers markets or farms. Foam or batting material can be purchased at sewing stores.

  2. 2

    Place a sheet of polystyrene insulation inside the bottom of the larger plastic tub. This provides insulation against the cold coming in from the ground.

  3. 3

    Place the smaller plastic tub inside the larger plastic tub. A few inches of space should be between the two plastic tubs. The inside of the smaller tub serves as a dwelling for the cats.

  4. 4

    Fill the empty space between the tubs with the remaining polystyrene sheets. This protects the walls of the shelter from the cold weather.

  5. 5

    Break up any remaining polystyrene and use it to fill in spaces between the sheets. Any place that isn't protected with insulation is a place where the cold can creep in.

  6. 6

    Place the straw or bedding material inside the smaller tub and cover with the smaller tub with its plastic lid.

  7. 7

    Cut a piece of polystyrene sheeting to fit on top of the smaller tub. If no space exists between the top of the smaller tub and the lid of the larger tub to fit more sheeting, consider using batting or squishier foam. Place the lid on the larger tub.

  8. 8

    Pick a spot for the entrance and cut an eight inch hole using an electric hand saw. Saving this move until last allows you to line up the holes in both tubs and insulation easily.

Tips and warnings

  • Place the cat shelter in protected areas around buildings, so they aren't exposed to as much wind or snow build-up.
  • If you have trouble cutting through the plastic, warm it first with a blow dryer to soften the material.
  • Cats may not feel comfortable using the shelter with only one entrance. Consider adding a second entrance later if no cat has taken up residence in the shelter.
  • Check the shelter regularly during the winter to make sure snow doesn't block the entrance and trap the cats.

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