Picture of Cat House
This is a heated cat house that will keep your outside cat warm and cozy all winter long. There is enough room inside for food, water and a bed. Inside the house the water will not freeze even when it is freezing outside.

Step 1: Start

Picture of Start
You may need to train your cat to use the house by feeding them inside. They will see how warm and cozy it is in there and before you know it they will be using it on their own.

We keep our cat houses out all year long but we only feed them inside on very cold days. They are plugged in all winter, day and night. In the spring we unplug them during the day when the weather is warm and plug them in for the cold nights. During the summer our cats dont use the inside, so we put foam pads on top and they love to lay up there. When we turn the houses on in the fall as the days and nights start to get cold again, we find our cats sleeping inside, they really love their houses!

Having fun checking out their new house.
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jgodsey6 years ago
commendable that you rescued them. But why not just take them inside all the time, or at least when it is cold out. It is not like they are true ferals. and why the rope light? they don't need it.
pdjinc.com (author)  jgodsey6 years ago
We have inside cats already and unfortunately they will fight. The rope light is used for heat and reading (if they are in the mood).
Thats too bad, our rescue group has found that fighting is very very rare with anything other than Tom cats who would rather be outside. Cats are communal and usually reach a form of detente.

Not my cats! They are all spoiled brats!

pdjinc.com (author)  jgodsey6 years ago
I seem to have the rare event on a daily basis, RATS!
depending on where u live an the speacies of the rat. they can be smarters than you. but once they an you get to know each other they can be very helpfull as well.
My poor cats have to put up with snakes, dogs, mini komodo dragons and hedgehogs!

Love the answer! :)

Radmila3 years ago
I feed an outdoor, homeless cat. I got him a shelter made of large plastic storing crate. It is insulated, and has straw for a bed. Unfortunately, Ginger refuses to enter it. Another cat, who has a home uses it instead. I am very upset. Shall I make the entrance larger? You said place food inside. I am rally desparate. Toronto is known for very cold winters.


pdjinc.com (author)  Radmila3 years ago
With the cooler I open the lid, put the food inside, then put the cat in from the top, then close the lid. They will come right out the door. Repeat as much as necessary. After they are used to using the door block it with card board and keep them inside long enough for them to eat. Soon they will get used to it.
KDWalker1 year ago

My feral cat is very suspicious of anything I set outside but wonderfully settled into this house after a couple of days. Initially I bought this - http://superblog.co/the-kitty-tube-outdoor-cat-house-review/ - but he never really used it so that was a waste of money. I tried enticing it with cat nip but he only stays inside for about a minute or so at a time before heading back out. I followed the instructions on how to build this one and so far, he likes it! My only problem is the lid leaking at the hinges when it rains too hard outside. I could caulk it but I'm afraid I won't be able to lift the lid anymore for cleaning purposes. Any ideas to keep it from getting wet inside? I'd really appreciate it so thanks in advance!

ticktop KDWalker8 months ago

I've seen some with the cooler's lid as the bottom which I'm guessing solves the lid leaking problem.

pdjinc.com (author)  KDWalker1 year ago

I have added an update to the last page that covers a neat fix (i hope) for the leaking problem.

pdjinc.com (author)  KDWalker1 year ago

I have mine on a covered porch which is recommend. You could try a board a few inches larger then the width of the house, glue it on to the lid after sealing the wood to provid an overhang. Or you could run a bead of caulk just above the hing to act like a gutter. IS this a new chest? If water can get in them it would not work well as a cooler.

forum6310 months ago

Hey thanks for the update. Using a pole in the middle to hold them up, I tented tarps over the top of the house and arranged them so there was an awning over the door as a windbreak. I also put the cooler up on blocks and made little ramp up into the doorway. This helped keeping it form getting snowed in and let the snow slide off the roof as it warmed during the day. If you do this be sure to hold the tarps down with bricks or something heavy so it doesn't blow away in the wind. I also put a heating pad in it under an old fur coat that I had cut up as a pad. It was on low 24-7 and no problems (though you might want to keep the cat house away from your house in case of fire, though the cooler.) Anyway, the stray I was trying to help went in after I kept leaving some cat food in it and he used it all winter. I was so happy and he's now part of our family. :)

scooter76 made it!11 months ago

Thanks for the inspiration http://www.instructables.com/id/Cat-House-for-the-Winter-and-for-Feral-cats/

WARNING! We lost a cat who was playing in a cooler like this. The cooler was in the basement and we had no idea she was in it. At some point the lid snapped shut, and she suffocated to death. It was horribly painful to know she died that way.

Please don't use a cooler for a cat shelter. Or, at least remove the lid or secure it so it won't accidentally snap closed. Take it from someone who had to learn the hard way.

Hey there, if you notice in the pic above, a hole with a flap is cut in the side of the cooler for entrance and exit- the lid is closed but the cat still can get in and out. On the other hand, leaving a regular cooler ( with no holes cut) with the lid open around pets or small children is never wise.....
I like the idea a lot. It's a commonplace outdoor item, so it hides fairly well. Yes, there is a good sized entry hole. I would still recommend a second vent/exit in such a well sealed container. I am also concerned about the lights, as cats could become entangled or chew on them.
forum631 year ago
Success with THE LIGHTS! I found the incadescent rope lights at Lowes. The other suggestion I would make for heating is a seed mat and a thermostat. Described here in the review of a heated cat bed: http://www.amazon.com/3093-Extreme-Weather-Kitty-Fleece/product-reviews/B0009YWJRE/ref=cm_cr_pr_btm_link_next_2?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&pageNumber=2&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending
amishjim5 years ago
I really like this build. I am going to make one, but with a couple changes. First off, Hay or Straw is the way to go, so it will dry, as cloth may not. A waterproof heated pad sold at pet stores for heat that could be attached to a thermostat to automatically turn on when it got below "x" temp, I'll have to look that up, to see what a good temp would be. Good stuff, thank you.
any temp below 40 F should work. electronic battery / solar powered unit should do the trick
cats can form long term relation ships with each other to the piont , if 1 dies before the other. the other cat sometimes will die on its own shortly after. yes cats can get moody out of sorts. i dont know the exact terms 4 it tho.
forum631 year ago
Hi and thanks so much for posting this. My cat house turned out great. I actually used a cheap cat door from Pet Smart rather than the rug. The only mistake I made was I bought LED rope light which I now realize is not what you meant because it puts out no heat at all. Home depot doesn't seem to sell the Hampton Bay super bright 12' any longer with the incadescent bulbs. I'm still looking around. Any suggestions?
rolszewski2 years ago
DON'T use hay or straw around cats. Our cat died in one day from a respiratory infection. Look up "Aspergillosis in Cats."

solofiddle2 years ago
How long do the lights last? I bought some cheap ones from WalMart that only lasted one season as outdoor Christmas lights. Do you have a brand recommendation for better longevity? Also, would this be safe to use inside a barn? I plan to build one very soon for two strays that appeared on my property. Thanks - it's a great idea and the cats will love you for it!
sbilyeu753 years ago
I've made a similar house for my cat. I am having a problem with the the lid leaking at the hinges when it rains too hard outside. I would caulk it, but I want to be able to lift the lid for cleaning purposes. Any ideas how to keep it from getting wet inside?
You can tack a flap of rain proof material along the hinged edge that drapes down the back over the hinges. Tack it with adhesive, short sheet metal or drywall screws, whatever you are most comfortable with that will bond the flap to te plastic of the cooler lid. The material can be anything, but heavy vinyl or even rubber would be best.
pdjinc.com (author)  sbilyeu753 years ago
You should put some plastic over it and hold it down with rocks or wood. You might try a different cooler or build a shelter over the cooler. I keep mine on my porch which is covered.
bluefly12156 years ago
is there additional air vents? I know that air does come in the door area but wouldn't the air get stale and contain more carbon monoxide? This would work for our ferel and stray male cats.
pdjinc.com (author)  bluefly12153 years ago
The door is not a seal so ventilation is not a problem.
woofdog2943 years ago
I have two heated cat houses in an outdoor enclosed shelter. These houses are made with plywood panels and 1-1/2 inch styrofoam cores. Circular hole as door is covered by cloth flap. Heating system consists of 100 watt long life light bulb (covered by steel can) and Honeywell $10.00 thermostat connected in line. Keeps stray cat/cats warm and comfortable at constant 70 degrees with outdoor temperatures of minus 30. Insulated top panel is removeable to allow for easy changing of light bulb if required. House is equipped with cctv camera which allows for monitoring of food, water, and temperature. Food is removed at night to keep raccoons away. Video at homedepot.ca honeywell thermostat model CT410A1001 customer review.
ebell83 years ago
This is a GREAT idea! We will be making one of these this weekend for our two outdoor kitties! I love my animals, but I DO NOT love having them inside my house. My kids and I like to spend lots of time outdoors with our pets.
mlemaster4 years ago
How much colder is it in summer?
pdjinc.com (author)  mlemaster4 years ago
A cool house is a good idea! You could add peltier coolers. I'll work on it.
Music man4 years ago
you are a god for saving the cats
katilicous4 years ago
you made my mom soooooooooo happy, thank you. She trapped and spayed 14 or 15 ferals in NJ about 4 years ago, 5 are left and she worries about them all of the time. My bf built them a house to match her office 2 winters ago off the ground complete with matching roofline and siding. Winters are tough there however and she wasn't sure it was warm enough inside despite the foam insulation and non contact with the ground.
This winter we put a remote thermometer inside to gauge the inside vs. outside and found the inside temp to be the same and outside minus the wind factor and snow / rain. Searching for a quick fix bc we were only there for a week over the holiday I found your similar story and wonderful instructable.
Thank you soooooooo much for the idea. Although I wasn't able to do the professional job you did mounting the lights bc of the blizzard that had just started, I stuffed the rope lights under the bedding on both interior levels and ran the electric off the same cord as their heated water bowl. Also did a double rope length to give them a heated path to the house from the waterbowl doubling over the lights so some of the snow would melt.
Immediately there was only about 5 degrees difference - overnight that went to 20 degrees and now despite the awful low temps it has normalized and stayed at 60 degrees in their house. My mother keeps the remote temp sensor ($10 at Rite Aid) inside their house and the base inside her office which is on the same property as her home.
Honestly the only thing she has talked to me about since we did the rope light is the rope light and how happy she is that her kitties are warm. She will never talk those cats into being indoor cats but now they have their own indoors and reported to me yesterday that she sees them popping in and out of it.
Thank you, thank you, thank you and God Bless.
pdjinc.com (author)  katilicous4 years ago
Hi, Thank you for your feedback. Please be careful with the lights underneath bedding. You may over heat the light rope. Also, note that the rope light when new may out gas. It is best to run the light with some ventilation for a month or so. I know at night you do not want to lose the heat so during the days that are not so cold try opening the house up a crack to vent and then close it up as the temp drops. Spring time or fall is the best time to break in the light. But anytime it gets cold you do not have a choice.

I hope this helps to increase the well being of the cats and makes there life a bit better.

Take care,
Astros5 years ago
Could some sort of a "window" be incorporated in this design? There is a lot of bird watching to be done between naps.
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