How to build an insulated cat house

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether you are building a shelter for your own outdoor cats or for feral cats in the neighbourhood, an insulated cat house makes a good shelter for cats during the winter. This shelter will help keep cats warm and provide cats a place to hide from predators. Feral cats may also use it as an area to commune with each other. This shelter can be built with totes of any size or brand, as long as one fits completely inside of the other.

Blow hot air on one side of the larger tote using your blow dryer and cut a 6-inch circular hole, about 4 inches from the ground. Warming the plastic is optional, but it makes it easier to cut. You want the hole to be on one of the shorter sides, and it will serve as the entrance way.

Line the bottom of the larger tote with about 3 inches of insulating material and place the smaller tote inside of the larger tote.

Mark where the hole is on the smaller tote's side. Remove the smaller tote and cut an equally-sized hole in the smaller tote, using your blow dryer to first warm the plastic.

Place the smaller tote inside of the larger tote, and fill the area between the two totes with straw or other insulating material. Line the bottom of the smaller tote with straw as well.

Place the lid on the smaller tote, and put the 1 inch polystyrene board on top, cutting it to fit inside the larger tote.

Place the lid on the larger tote, and place the shelter against a building where it will be protected from wind and snow drifts.


You can use a piece of discarded solar pool cover to help keep the shelter warm, if it often gets hit by the sun. Monitor the shelter when you first place it outside to ensure that cats are using it, and the wind and snow does not blow directly into it.

Things You'll Need

  • 18-gallon Rubbermaid tote
  • 35-gallon Rubbermaid tote
  • Blow dryer (optional)
  • Knife
  • 1-inch polystyrene board
  • Straw or other insulating material
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About the Author

Alane Michaelson began writing professionally in 2002. Her work has appeared in Michigan publications such as the "Detroit Free Press" and the "Flint Journal." Michaelson graduated from Oakland University in 2006, earning a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.