Picture of Easy Winter Cat Shelter
This easily constructed cat shelter is perfect for our outdoor feral friends during those cold months. From start to finish only  took me less than a hour to complete. I had everything to make do this project around the house, besides the styrofoam cooler which was only a couple dollars.
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Step 1: Supplies and Tools

Picture of Supplies and Tools

Styrofoam Cooler - I got the cheapest one I could find from Wal-Mart for about $5

Tape - the stronger the better, I would suggest duct or packaging tape. Something that could hold up to some abuse outside

Insulation - Batting or Packaging Peanuts work great and are easy to find around the house. You can use Hay or Shredded Newspaper too. However some cats are allergic to Hay. It is important that whatever insulation you choose, it not be rigid or unable for the feline to burrow in it.

Plastic Bags - So the insulation does not got moldy from moisture I'm putting it in plastic bags.

Scrap Fabric - For added warmth and burrowing capabilities inside the shelter I used some scrap fleece I recycled. A old pillowcase or cotton fabric works great as well.


Box Cutter


Adhesive (Optional) - make sure it is suitable for use with styrofoam
RickK13 days ago

Hay is a terrible insulator, I would use straw instead. Because it's hollow it makes for better insulating value. Hay is nothing more than a weed.

This may sound like a really silly question but I have never had cats before so I'm not sure what the answer is. How do you clean this as it's duct-taped together and will feral/stray cats use this as a litterbox as well as a shelter? Thanks. =)

Most cats will not urinate or defecate in their living areas, so it shouldn't really be a problem.

I've never seen a cat use it's shelter for a litter box, as long as it's not trapped in there.

Use straw only in the cat shelters, it's better then blankets for warmth and staying dry. They will make a little nest in it.

scooter76 made it!2 months ago

Thanks for the inspiration.

athenasrealm2 months ago

I like how you did this.

I did something similar a couple of years ago, none of the feral cats used it. Mine took longer and was more expensive - but worth the experience.

This is my project for tomorrow. I've just moved to an area where a cat is left out all night and the UK is smothered in snow, and will be for some weeks. I can't take the cat in (badly allergic) but it begs at my door (I think the previous person who lived here used to let it in) and it's been upsetting me. I never even thought of this sort of solution until I saw this idea. If the cat doesn't use it, we have an urban fox I've been feeding, so thanks a lot.
umm ? unban fox might be friendly to that cat.
katerlyn1 year ago
I wonder if one could use the travel bags that you suck the air out of to enclose the insulation? And perhaps straw could be used (versus hay, commonly misconstrued)...thanks for helping the poor cold cats out there. I have a special place in my heart for feral cats.
These are great! Thank you
katieboop1 year ago
There aren't many feral cats in my area, I've only seen one or two. I do, however, have several bunnies in my yard that keep crawling under my car when it snows. Maybe they'll like a shelter? I'm going to make a couple of these from some Omaha Steaks shipping coolers I have laying around, thanks for the idea!
mole11 year ago
This is great! The drainage holes are important. I recommend the packing peanuts (the non-cornstarch kind) for the padding instead of anything that can absorb water. I also recommend woven fabric to hold them rather than a plastic bag, so any snow, or other moisture that comes in with them will drain out rather than puddle.
Wish I'd seen this years ago when an old stray adopted my backyard! (I'm deathly allergic to cats, so I couldn't touch it or take it inside.) Ended up building something much more difficult and not nearly as nice as your idea.
One question - Do they need an escape route out another side?
rmazzupappa (author)  mole11 year ago
Thanks for the great suggestions!

As far as a escape route, I find that keeping the entrance just large enough for the cat to get in and out of makes the shelter pretty defensible. Feral cats are pretty tough and I feel could hold their own if another animal tried to get at them while in the shelter.
As the resident Instructables cat lady, I just have to say that this is wonderful! I have some friends back in KY that make little shelters like this for the cats in the neighborhood - but they use large plastic totes. This seems like a nicer insulated option. :)